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Performance Management

Meetings: The Duct Tape of Workplace Communication

August 28, 2014
4 min read
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A survey revealed that 67% of meetings are considered by executives to be a failure. Meetings are intended as a productivity booster, a coming together to accomplish objectives, a “let’s get on the same page” gathering. So why are they considered the black hole of time in just about every workplace?

Day-to-Day Communication

Did you know that these unproductive meetings are steadily becoming more popular? Currently, 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings, and the amount of time spent in meetings has increased every year since 2008.

While there are no concrete reported causes for this increase, it is a safe bet to assume that poor day-to-day communication practices could be to blame. The more communication break downs that a group experiences, the more often they need to meet to align goals and stay on track with even the smallest of projects. 

The State of Meetings

The problem is that meetings don’t actually fix the core issues. Poor communication and leadership don’t go away when everyone is sitting at a conference table. 

  • 41% of survey respondents admitted to multitasking “often” or “all the time” during meetings. (Tweet this Stat)
  • 69% of those surveyed confessed to checking email during meetings. (Tweet this Stat)
  • 49% of employees surveyed revealed that they do other unrelated work during meetings. (Tweet this Stat

The Problem

At this point, it’s safe to establish that more meetings aren’t the solution; in fact, improving the effectiveness of meetings isn’t even the solution (although that helps). The root of the problem lies in the everyday communication and alignment of your teams.

Now that sounds harder than simply holding more meetings doesn’t it? Yes, and that is precisely why leaders tend to avoid the communication problem, and up the meetings, but this particular bandage (like most) isn’t working. Middle managers are spending 35%, and upper-management is spending as much as 50% of their time in meetings. Let’s revisit the opening stat: 67% of meetings are considered by executives to be a failure. (Tweet this Stat)

The Solution

Leaders have to fix the root of the problem: rip the duct tape off, and take a stab at transparency. What do you have to lose, besides the $37 billion dollars per year that unproductive meetings are currently costing U.S. businesses? Here are the steps to improving the everyday communication holes that simply can’t be patched with meetings. 

1. Establishing the Vision and Goals

A survey of 23,000 employees revealed that a mere 37% of employees understood what their employer was trying to achieve and why. To us, that is a jaw-dropping statistic. No wonder meetings are increasing; no one knows where their company is headed, much less their own role in getting there. This is your start line; establish the organization’s vision and goals, and let individual employees know how their role can and will support the reaching of those goals. 

2. Tracking Progress and Goals

Everyone sees the target, and they know their role in hitting it, but if leadership were that easy, you wouldn’t be reading this. Progress must be monitored daily. Even a weekly meeting can’t ensure that each moving part is on track; this must be a day-to-day initiative. If you’ve been in management for any amount of time, you know exactly how much damage just days of misdirection can do.

3. Continuous Feedback

Leaders, do you know why performance recognition is so frequently talked about? Because it is a huge deal! Drive, connection with the organization (or engagement), work relationships and an understanding of individual impact in the organization, are all improved when leaders create a strong culture of recognition. Continuous feedback allows leaders to connect and interact with employees on a daily basis, reducing the need for frequent, unproductive meetings.

In the same manner that putting duct tape on leaky faucet is easier than repairing the leak, calling another meeting is easier than fixing communication issues. These aren’t fixes; they’re bandages to a root issue. The faucet will need more duct tape, and the company without communication and transparency will need more meetings.

Want to know how to make your day-to-day workplace communication more meaningful with the help of proven tools and solutions? Check out what ClearCompany can do to fix the problems.

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