5 reasons why meetings don’t work

I hate meetings, and unless you’re a glutton for punishment you do too. Yet it seems like much of my professional life tends to drift towards…you guessed it, meetings! The problem with meetings is most meetings don’t work, and here’s why:


1. You can’t Work and Meet at the same Time

You can sit around and talk about work or you can work, but you can’t do both.

2. The Wrong People are in the Meeting

One of the most frustrating things in a meeting is having the wrong people in the room speaking into the right issues.

3. The Wrong Issues are being Addressed

It is a complete waste of resources to have high-powered problem solvers and decision makers in the room dealing with non-systemic remedial issues. Real leaders need real issues to face down that will really move the organization forward.

4. All Talk and no Action

Ever notice how you can walk out of some meetings feeling like you’ve actually had a “breakthrough” conversation only to circle around and be facing the same issue a couple of months later? That’s because there was no accountability to action out of the meeting.

5. The Meeting has become a Complete Free-for-All

When everybody comes with their own agenda for the meeting there is no agenda for the meeting.


What have you discovered that sets your meetings up for success?

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

5 Responses to “5 reasons why meetings don’t work”

  1. David July 11, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Hey Paul, Yah sometimes meetings can be a waste of time. A little planning up front sure makes a difference….Here’s what I learned over the years:
    1) Have the right people in the room, those that have a part in the real issue.
    2) No brainer…need an agenda or don’t have a meeting. LoL
    3) Meetings are part of the work that needs to happen. They are necessary and don’t always have to happen in the “management room”
    4) Give a voice to those who know best, usually the person/s who are the workers not supervisiors.
    5) Take notes, minutes, assign action items, set completion dates, and follow-up…You only get what you inspect !
    6) Encouragement, recognition, praise, & how goes it are all important aspects of all meetings. All too often forgot about…

  2. paul alexander July 11, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    If people actually employed the steps you suggest they might be surprised by how much more they got out of their meetings! Thanks for the input!

  3. David July 12, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    BTW, Just thought I’d say your number one may be a bit off base. I’d say you have to meet to work! Meeting both people and issues are key no matter where it takes place.

    Thinking you can work apart from meeting can lead to false sense of getting things accomplished. Can’t do it nor should you do it alone.

    Although you may not enjoy meetings they are necessary for a host of reasons and in fact part of the process of work accomplishment.

    Enjoy the process and gain insight from others…

  4. paul alexander July 13, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    To clarify…meetings go wrong and don’t work for all kinds of reasons. This is just a simple list of 5 reasons that frequently cause meetings to go south quick.

  5. Jonathan Alexander September 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    I’d add this: “Your meetings have no conflict” or “You don’t encourage/challenge people to really share what they think or feel about an idea or issue.”

    My favorite two great books on how to have great meetings:

    Death by Meeting – Patrick Lencioni

    Boring Meetings Suck- John Petz

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image