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Wasting Time at Work Through Business Meetings

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If you want to improve productivity, increase your business and be more efficient overall, the last thing you should do is a hold a meeting. Meetings (as everyone knows) are often a waste of time.

That’s the topic of a new blog post from the Wall Street Journal. Robert C. Pozen writes:

Internal meetings are the bane of corporate life. There are too many meetings, they take too long, and they get too little accomplished.

Why? Because most meetings are really not necessary. Before you call a meeting, think about whether you can accomplish your goals through email or a quick phone call. You rarely need to call a meeting if you’re just planning on sharing information or issuing action instructions.

Professional business meeting in a conference room

Productivity by Not Holding A Meeting – from Flickr user Victor1558

Pozen is absolutely correct. We’ve seen this before: study after study that shows how much time people waste in meetings. That’s partially because meetings are often called without any plan (like an agenda) and without any outcome (like a list of action steps or responsibilities).

But there’s something more insidious going on in meetings besides just a general lack of productivity. Not that issues with business efficiency wouldn’t be enough—but there’s a deeper problem that’s even worse.

Meetings reinforce unhealthy power dynamics at work.

It’s true. Consider the following situations:

  • One employee who arrives late, and makes everyone start over again
  • A boss who insists on reading announcements at meetings
  • Individuals who are not expected to speak at a meeting unless asked a question
  • Forced scheduling of meetings by writing on someone else’s electronic calendar.

Aren’t these all symptoms of a larger workplace culture issue? They remind us that so much of the problem at work that we aren’t always focused on working. Instead, many people spend much of their time politicking, grandstanding, brown nosing or just waiting.

It’s true that we’re business improvement consultants and we want your company to be more productive and more efficient. But we also want your company culture to be more satisfying. In fact, that may be the most fundamental change of all. Meetings are the core of where culture improves. Change the way you interact in the conference room, and you just might change your whole company.

Thanks to reader Katie P. for submitting this blog idea.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


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