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  • Do you enjoy going to meetings?
  • Could you get more work done if you didn’t have to attend so many meetings?

I have heard many employees complain about the number of meetings they have to attend but feel slighted if not invited. At a point in my career, I used to say in jest that I’d be better off being paid by the meeting than having a salary. I had standing meetings with my direct reports, but my boss thought that it would be good for me to attend meetings with other leaders outside my department to expand my network of influential people. I was more interested in getting work done during the proverbial “9 to 5” while he thought it was more important for me to build relationships. I ended up working after hours to complete non-relational responsibilities. While I did not understand the value of going to all those meetings at the time, my boss did, and it paid off in the long run.

Meetings without purpose or value are a waste of time and money. When you consider the salary per hour of each employee leaders must carefully contemplate who should attend each meeting and for how long. I wonder how many leaders who call meetings think about such things. On the other hand, if the employees who attend these meetings are salaried the bottom line might not be affected as much. However, productivity and burnout could be a consequence.

That is why leaders should think about the value added to the organization and individual employees when calling ad hoc or perpetuating standing meetings. The most important thing leaders need to think about is the purpose of the meeting. Is it to provide status reports, problem-solving, communication enhancement, social/relational, or some other value-added purpose? Then they must decide who really needs to be there and for how long. Why force a person to stay for an entire meeting if they have more pressing issues to tend to and the rest of the items on the agenda aren’t pertinent to them?

I have found that when the agenda was given to participants at least a day before the meeting and they came prepared, the meeting quality was so much better. I could always tell who did or didn’t do their homework. Steven G. Rogelberg, studies meetings. In his article, “Bad Meetings Drain Time and Energy –…”, he suggests that leaders periodically evaluate the quality of meetings. That is great advice. I wish I had thought of it.

Now, it is clear to me that my boss’s purpose for sending me to all those meetings was social/relational. He understood long before I did, that relationships matter.

What ideas do you have that would make meetings more productive and enjoyable? To learn more about my coaching practice, visit: