Long, tedious boring meetings are one of the favorite reasons for the employees’ backbiting. Is there a way to change the situation?

Many companies are thinking about how to speed up the deliberative process. They use a great variety of tricks: some companies limit the number of words for the speaker, others force employees to stand while meeting. But it does not bring the desired results, says Nigel Nicholson, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School. “The necessity to stand while the meeting is perceived as superior’s freak and his authoritarian behavior”, – he says. To make the meetings effective, you need to maintain it properly, says the expert.

How to hold the meeting: Alan Palmer’s tips

Alan Palmer, the author of Talk Lean: Shorter Meetings. Quicker Results. Better Relations says: “In the beginning, you must identify the purpose of the meeting. Do not mix the purpose of the particular meeting with the overall business objectives. The purpose of the meeting should necessarily be clear and understandable. It should not be a kind of general, global idea”. It’s better to say that the purpose of the meeting is to agree on concrete steps to move the project forward.

If you want to limit the time of the meeting, pay attention to it in the beginning. The staff will be happy to know that the time is strictly limited. As the chairman of the meeting, you are to comply with the proposed time limit: stop people who talk too long.

Palmer advises asking people to state clear ideas and reinforce them with concrete arguments. “We overestimate the ability of people to listen”, – he says.

During the discussion of the problem, do not generalize. For example, do not ask the subordinates why they haven’t performed their tasks in full. It’s better to ask a concrete question: “What we need to do to start working 20% better?”.

But don’t forget, says Professor Nicholson, that the meeting is not only order and logic. The business meeting is a complex mechanism of cooperation of people. If you rationalize it too much, you can lose hidden but very valuable benefits that it brings. “Meetings often help to realize the uniqueness of the project and the team in which you work. People get the feeling of comradeship” – concludes Nicholson.