THE TRUTH ABOUT MEETINGS, CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP
- For a variety of reasons, leaders tacitly delegate the authority to conduct poorly organized, weakly-led and marginally productive meetings to managers throughout their companies. The inadequacies of planning, execution and follow-through that cause meetings to underperform are diverse, but the single important truth is that each leader, from mid level manager all the way to the top, retains the responsibility for every meeting productivity shortfall.
- A company’s performance standards are part of the company’s day-to-day culture. One place where a company’s underperformance tolerance can be easily observed is in its meetings, and specifically in how meetings are planned, conducted and followed through upon. Two truths here; (a) without a clear standard that is expressed and enforced by company leaders, the overall culture will drift to the least effortful minimum possible within subcultures and (b) the de facto unstated performance standard that leaders tolerate in their subcultures is most visible in meetings.
- People who hold meetings are seldom held accountable by the employees and contractors who find the meeting unproductive. While people don’t like having their time wasted, they are usually either too polite or too concerned about cultural rejection to complain about a poorly planned meeting. Meetings don’t improve because of the reactions of dissatisfied participants because dissatisfaction is seldom voiced. The truth is that without culture-defining meeting leadership from the top, meeting productivity tends to decline.
- In summary, meetings only become and remain acceptably effective and efficient when company leaders consistently exert their power and their guidance to replace an absent or unfocused meeting standard with a much more consistent, higher yield meeting expectation.