We’ve all been there before.  The meeting that won’t end. The meeting that serves no real purpose. The meeting with so many important issues to cover and none that are getting fully addressed.  The meeting that is nothing more than a lecture.  All of these are unproductive, uninspiring, and unfulfilling.  What are the real costs of these meetings?  What are the consequences of an unproductive meeting?

First of all, company morale.  Sometimes the build up to a big meeting is stressful enough.  Often times employees are preparing for meetings and anxious to be sure that they are ready, organized, and present.  When a meeting is completely unproductive, employees that worked hard to prepare for it will be left feeling like they just wasted time.  It’s been a distraction from getting actual work done and instead has bred feelings of stress, dissatisfaction, and unproductiveness. 

In addition to affecting company morale and company culture, unproductive meetings cost actual time and money.  Time, money, and resources preparing for an unproductive meeting turn into a waste. 

From Return on Ideas:

TED speakers David Grady and Jason Fried want to take meetings to task –and for good reason.  Recent data shows that meetings can cost companies valuable time and money.  From inefficiency to unseemly costs, are meetings really benefiting your organization? […] ‘Meetings aren’t work –meetings are places to go talk about things you’re supposed to be doing later.’ Jason Fried.

So, should meetings be cut altogether? Absolutely not –that’s my opinion at least.  Meetings are important and do serve a purpose. It is necessary at times to get together and discuss progress, ideas, brainstorm solutions, etc.  The problem is meetings that lead to nothing and are nothing more than a build up to an event that fizzles out.

If you’re working as a consultant, you have to find the balance between productive and unproductive.  You have to establish a company culture that lends itself to success instead of failure.  You want people to come to meetings prepared and leave feeling like they’ve truly accomplished something.  A great way to do this is to assign roles and tasks (with deadlines) in each meeting.  Accountability is a good way to stay on task.

You can also schedule progress updates via email to keep up with tasks in between meetings instead of having several smaller less productive meetings.  You also want to focus on building up your team during meetings instead of tearing them down.  This doesn’t mean that you can offer criticism –just be sure that it’s constructive.  The point of a meeting is to accomplish something and to help your team or project grow and thrive.

What are your thoughts on unproductive meetings and their place in the workplace?  What are your solutions? What affect do you think unproductive meetings have on company culture and morale? What are your thoughts? Comment below!