How Bad Meetings Are Draining Your Company’s Talent


Apr 24, 2017     By Neya Abdi

Great employees are the lifeblood of your company. They’re the people who see a problem and go, “Don’t worry, I have an idea.” So when these stars give their two weeks notice and announce they’re moving on, it’s a big blow.

But you know what’s even more devastating than losing one good employee? Losing several. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and if your best people are leaving in droves, trying to win them back one by one isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to get to the root of the problem.

Sometimes, the source of the problem is in an unexpected place and, believe it or not, one of the reasons your best people may be leaving is bad meetings.

Your Meetings Are Wasting People’s Time

Bad meetings consist of a lot of talk and very little action. They don’t have specific action items and even if they do, no one is held accountable for accomplishing the action items outlined at the last meeting.

On the other hand, your best employees are the polar opposite of these things. They are proactive, accountable, and focused.

In the short term, bad meetings take people away from their work and waste their time. Throw in a habit of calling unscheduled meetings, and you’ve got yourself a toxic combination of frequent and bad.

In the long term, bad meetings convince proactive employees that this organization prioritizes bureaucracy and empty platitudes over action and results. When smart people notice their talent isn’t put to good use, they leave.

Your Meetings Are Micromanaging Instead of Guiding

A rule of thumb for good meetings is to keep them small. Some companies opt for brief, one-on-one meetings. When executed effectively, these meetings are a fantastic opportunity for guidance and feedback. When abused, they devolve into micromanagement.

Employees that do good work value honest feedback because it allows them to do their job better and spend less time worrying that they aren’t giving their employer what he or she wants.

Nevertheless, feedback is a completely different animal from micromanagement.

If you hired someone qualified, trust them to do good work and avoid irritating check-ins on tasks they are fully capable of accomplishing. But also set aside time for open dialogue to make sure team members know the part they play in the organization’s overall goals.

Your Meetings Don’t Proactively Address Problems

When events take a significant turn for the worse, don’t hide the fact that there are issues out of fear your employees will automatically leave. It’d be a mistake to discount them too quickly.

It’s also harmful to address a serious problem with fake positivity. You run the risk of creating a culture where:

  • Employees believe management is in denial and therefore unable to solve problems that are very clear to the people on the frontlines, or
  • Employees figure management is already jumping ship and therefore they should, too

Use meetings as a way to address problems, reaffirm your company’s vision, and present a clear action plan to show awareness and proactivity. Smart people like a challenge, and they’re not likely to abandon a company whose vision they share. But they also won’t stay on board a rickety boat with a drunk captain.

Your meetings are a microcosm of your company’s culture. Use them as a strategic way to unify your company’s vision and solve problems, not as a way to interrupt and micromanage. Your employees will thank you and most importantly, they’ll stick around.



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