Have you even been in a management meeting where you thought you were watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars? The conference table has become a ballroom floor and executives are performing the Cha-cha, the Quickstep, the Paso Doble, East and West Coast Swing, the Waltz and my favorite the Jive.
You can jive in place, change places, you can rock, fall away, do the throwaway, put your hands behind your back and if they get too close you can hip bump them off balance. There is so much fancy footwork going on that it makes your head spin. Of course, some of the contestants, I mean executives are more skilled than others and each has their favorite dance. All designed to avoid the obvious which is dealing with the issues that lead to the need for the meeting.
If focusing on the issues is the purpose of the meeting why is it so difficult to do that? Is it because the meeting is boring that people want to have fun and dance? I love one of the Seinfeld episodes where George is in a meeting with his boss at Kroger Industries. He becomes frustrated when his boss is refusing to do anything. His boss is unmoved and responds that this is all so boring. Admittedly, some meetings are boring but what makes them boring? I believe it is making the purpose of the meeting known upfront and then sticking to an agenda. One reason meetings fail is because there is no formal written agenda for the meeting. It is so easy to get distracted and get off course. I would say on average that at least for 9 out of 10 meetings there is no written agenda and I am being generous. Another reason meetings fail is because there is an agenda and it is the personal agenda of each person attending the meeting. I know everyone is supposed to have an open mind but finding that opening now thereís the challenge.
A written agenda is the program for the performance I mean meeting. It lets everyone know that for this dance your feet have to stay on the floor and everyone is required to perform the same dance. Having an agenda for the meeting does not mean that people wonít get distracted or off track. However, when that happens it is easier to redirect the discussion back to the issue. But, what can you do about the dancing? Since we all know it is happening letís just make it a formal part of the meeting.
Imagine a meeting where everyone attending is told in advance that their performance will be judged by everyone else who is attending the meeting. Their score will count for one-half of the individualís total score. The other half of the score will come from their employees voting on their performance and the executive with the lowest score is eliminated from the competition. I wonder what kind of dancing this would produce.