A recent Microsoft on-line survey with 40,000+ participants revealed that in the average work week, over 17 hours are “wasted in meetings.” Wow. Assuming the average white-collar worker spends 50 hours a week at work that equates to roughly one-third of the week.


At the same time the Families and Work Institute reports that half of the workforce feels overworked. I’m not a mathematician, but there is an apparent error in this formula.


How much time do you spend in meetings each week? Could you stand to save some of that time?



There is a plethora of books and trainings that exist on how to manage meetings more effectively. Yet, if 17 hours a week are still going down the drain in trivial get-togethers, might it be possible that the current strategies are not effective?


The vast majority people we interview on this topic report that in most of the meetings they attend one of two things happen: the meetings are dominated by a few people who tell the others in attendance their opinions; or everyone spends time sharing their perspectives and the meeting goes off track, finishing with nothing accomplished and no plan for moving forward. (In fact, in addition to wasting time, might it be that some of the meetings in your organization actually cost much more than time as trust, communication, etc. deteriorate?)


The ego was built to be heard. And we all have an ego. On those days we can’t control the “ME! ME! ME! Mechanism” it leaves a path of destruction. And then leaves us baffled when others can’t see what we see. “Hey,” our ego rationalizes, “they brought me here to lead, to make a difference. They’re paying me to deliver results. I said my share — it’s their fault if they don’t listen to me and don’t follow my suggestions.”



Okay, let’s get real. Start a revolution in your organization by doing what you know works. First, you be the one who models leadership. You can be the one who doesn’t blame others for ineffective meetings, and instead does what you want everyone to do: actively contribute to a more effective model for meetings.


Secondly, kindly acknowledge your ego, and then rather than telling others what must be done to make meetings more effective, ask them what must be done. Ensure that someone is taking copious notes and choose the top three ideas.


Step three: ask the others how everyone will hold themselves accountable to the top three actions chosen — and then execute.


Follow the three-point plan above and then focus on all the times the team delivers what they said they would deliver. Then watch the wasted hours disappear.


Where did we learn to make things better by complaining about it? Consider that everyone in every meeting you attend has the same gripe about wasted time — and the reason nothing is getting done about it is because no one, until you, has had the courage to do something about it: to ask the right questions.


Is it possible that the reason people feel overworked is not because of the workload they carry, but because of how they handle their workload? That all changes now: In your own revolution. In the next meeting you attend. With the two simple questions above.


What is the difference between what ‘might be’ and what ‘can be’? You decide.



Subscribe to receive these blog posts, select videos and more direct to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This