by Jessica Higgins, COO of gapingvoid.com
In my work designing and changing organization’s cultures, it’s impossible to ignore this blatant trend across all my data: meetings are a real issue in businesses today.
We know that meetings can be annoying, sure. But that’s just a feeling we have. Below are the quantifiable results I discovered that led to this conclusion: meetings are one of the most important things that happen in your business when it comes to company culture.
1. How your meetings work reflects how your business really works.
Corporate culture design begins with an assessment of over 40 core indicators of employment experience. From that, I am able to run a predictive analysis of corporate culture. Just like when you’re online and a company offers you a product they know you already want: people operate in predictable patterns. I specialize in understanding and redesigning these patterns.
Time and time again, I discover that the quality and quantity of an organization’s meetings is a predictive factor for at least three and often five other core behavioral patterns that normatively govern your organization.
To summarize these patterns, people are shaped by group behaviors. When an employee experiences ineffective meetings, it makes them less effective in other areas of work. Not just the lost time from that meeting, but in their mindset and in their coworker interactions.
The opposite is also true. Effective meetings are significant predictors of communication styles and coworkers’ ability to deliver and receive constructive feedback.
Every meeting that happens inside your business every day can either boost performance, or act as ground zero for performance drain.
2. Meetings are a significant factor in employee engagement.
You have an explicit contract with your employees: you give me performance and I give you a paycheck. But there’s also an implied contract as well: you bring your amazing performance to my team, I give you a reason to care. At least, that’s the deal with organizations that have strong corporate cultures.
It’s this implied contract that governs our current disengagement epidemic. Gallup reports that 70% of all employees are either passively or actively disengaged in their work. In my experience, this statistic is far ranging by industry and customer, but that’s a topic for a different article.
Meetings can create employee disengagement as effectively as a bad boss can create disengagement.
An engaged employee can only withstand so many useless hours lost to meetings before they either burn out from catching up on work on nights/weekends, they find another job, or they give into the schedule drain caused by ineffective meetings and simply disengage.
Above are the three major outcomes of cultures with ineffective meetings. The data is far too compelling not to rethink your next group sit-down.
3. Meeting outcomes are creative outcomes, and creative outcomes are a business imperative.
It’s the interactions between people where the real magic happens inside of your business. Not just the operational stuff, but the human, creative, emotional stuff inside a meeting. That’s where innovation happens. Its hard to quantify the quality of an innovation until you watch it fail or succeed. What you can quantify, however, is whether people are willing, able and focused in the right ways to create meaningful things inside of your organization. You desperately need more meaningful collaboration inside your business. Every business. It’s not the stuff you can get from people by a mere calendar invite, it’s the way in which the meeting is designed.
My point is, you desperately need meetings. Don’t just throw them out or continue them in status quo. Treat them with kindness, care, and design them for effectiveness.
Jessica Higgins, COO of gapingvoid.com developed and manages the only end-to-end culture design solutions firm in existence today. Her clients include Microsoft, Zappos, Roche, AT&T, Pfizer, L’Oreal, US Bank, Babson College, and many others. She and her team deliberately assess, root cause, strategize, design and execute sustainable solutions at scale that connect people logically and emotionally to the organization’s most important outcomes. She is a public speaker, strategist and published author.