Death to Meeting-Crazy Managers

Strategies to Create Better Meetings and Bosses

Death to Meeting Crazy ManagersIf I had a dime for every time I heard employees say meetings are useless, I would be a zillionaire. Team members know how useless meetings are, but managers remain unaware of how they waste the time of their most valuable resources – their people.

Too often, managers believe meetings are essential, but the participants feel they are a time-suck, a joke and a great opportunity to text friends. There is an obvious disconnect between a manager demanding people’s attendance and a meeting that lacks interaction, two-way communication and productivity.

When asked by companies to offer strategies to solve this problem, I like to get the full picture by observing a meeting or two. I have witnessed too many ineffective and badly run meetings. The most common management issues I have witnessed in meetings are:

  1. Routine Mongers
    Regular meetings are scheduled because it has always been done that way or based on a calendar rather than an identified need.
  1. Fear of Bad Feelings
    Entire teams or departments are invited to attend meetings rather than just the relevant people needed to contribute to the topic.
  1. Poor Leadership
    Meetings involve the whole group sitting in on a specific problem even though the issue only involves a few people.
  1. Fixing Bad Communication
    Meetings are called too frequently because daily communication is an on-going problem within the team or department.
  1. Ego
    Meetings allow micro-managers to flex their power and feel like they are in full control of all operations.

Meeting-crazy managers have more bad habits than just these few. But what can a business do? Fix them or fire them?

While firing them may seem to be the solution, it is more cost effective to fix those individuals; and as a coach, I have found most managers can be changed. In our Building Better Bosses program, we ask managers to start over when it comes to meetings. No precedent, no historical routine and no expectations. This way, managers can feel like meetings are their creation which fosters ownership and commitment rather than force. They become more personalized, filled with good strategies and a renewed perspective.

I challenge managers to start from scratch and ask key questions which will determine meeting needs.  Common questions include:

  1. What is the expected outcome of the meeting?
  2. Who are the key people who need to contribute to this outcome?
  3. When is the best time to schedule the meeting?
  4. How long should it take to reach this outcome?
  5. Is there another way this outcome could be achieved?

If the answers to these questions determine the need for a meeting, preparation comes next. Meetings must have clear agendas delivered to participants at least 24 hours prior so that just as managers should take time to prepare, employees should do the same. This ensures everyone has gathered the information they need to create the most efficient meeting possible.

Another way to assess whether a meeting is needed is to define its purpose.  Meetings can accomplish a number of tasks:

Share: provide information and educate participants

Ask: ask for information in order to make a decision

Debate: share perspectives and offer opinions

Brainstorm: request ideas and innovations

If your purpose is only to share information, then a meeting is not needed. If it is to ask for information, narrow invitations to only who is needed. For a debate, include only relevant people and teams. If brainstorm is the task then put a time limit on the length of the meeting. Different needs require different people, actions and limits. A mix of needs will also require different resources that need to be determined beforehand.

If this is the first of consecutive meetings, each proposed meeting should be assessed to determine that future meetings are required. Also ask if the same outcome is expected and if so, is there a better way to manage this need?

Every meeting requires an agreement that action will be taken. There needs to be responsibility and accountability. Requiring an action emphasizes the original objective for the meeting, people and timing. For example:

Bob will put these brainstorm ideas into a chart and send them to each person by noon on Thursday.

Each person will vote for their top 3 choices and send them to Lisa by noon on Friday.

On Wednesday we will meet to review the top 5, prioritize them and develop strategies to implement each one in the following quarter.

Each example has clear actions and deadlines so participants understand the reason for their presence, level of involvement and necessary duties.  When these criteria are met, then time is managed better, communication is strategic and meeting-crazy managers are dead.

Not only does looking at meeting necessity and purpose refocus managers, it also makes them more effective in running the meeting.

  1. They are able to create agendas that are clear, concise and outcome based.
  2. They facilitate the meeting more effectively because the goal is clear and tangents can be recognized and averted.
  3. Their communication skills improve because they know what they need from meeting participants.
  4. They complete meetings efficiently because they feel more in control and goal-focused.
  5. They are less likely to micro-manage because they pose the goal and help the participants formulate the solution.

When meeting-crazy managers stop doing what doesn’t work, get out of their own way and create meetings that are personalized and intentional, then everyone benefits. We can help managers learn to be better bosses and create meetings that are not time sucks, opportunities for daydreaming or sources of frustration.


If the managers in your company need to kick up their skills, it might be time for our Building Better Bosses program. Contact us to assess readiness and fit for the program. We can turn your managers into great bosses. 604-349-8660 or

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This entry was posted by Pam Paquet and is filed under Employee Training, Goal Setting & Motivation, Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.