Meetings could be destroying your culture

Smart CEOs are as good at managing a credit union’s talent and leadership capacity as they are at managing its financial resources. They understand what it means to have a culture that engages their people, and where employees are enthusiastic to achieve their goals and objectives. Great CEOs ensure that the top leadership’s alignment on culture inspires them to model behaviors and take actions that increase employee engagement through effective strategic communication. 

Meetings, the primary times when employees gather together to effectively plan and collaboration, are a key target for leaders to analyze and then address ways to improve engagement. They can take many forms. For example, employees can be fired up and inspired in small group brainstorming sessions that help them to innovate and create. One-on-one conversations between a supervisor and an employee when done well and regularly, at least weekly, increases engagement by fostering understanding, and providing mentoring and coaching opportunities. Occasional management briefings and seminars disseminate strategic information through concise, clear, well-directed communication, and contribute to employee teambuilding. 

You would expect that most organizations would know the ins and outs of effective meeting management. These include always having an agenda, starting and ending on time, getting only the right people to attend and not a person more, and having every participant be clear about their personal action items when the meeting concludes. In summary: optimize participants, set an agenda, accomplish the points, and end ASAP. 

Yet, what appears as so simple actually is very challenging for too many organizations. Gallup reports that $37 billion in resources are wasted through ineffective meetings. This is a drag on both productivity and employee engagement. Of particular concern, Gallup describes how senior executives are often part of the problem. On average, senior executives spend over two days a week in meetings. What’s worse, they believe that their time was poorly used in two-thirds of them. Furthermore, MIT Sloan School found that for the most engaged employees – those with a strong desire to complete their work goals – job satisfaction decreased as the number of meetings attended increased. 

A strong case from Microsoft illustrates the MIT study. Microsoft traced a problem of significant employee dissatisfaction in one of its key engineering divisions to time wasted in large meetings. These gatherings, which management intended for “coordination”, crowded out time for productive thoughtful work, and the engineers had to make up time on weekends and evenings to achieve goals. The large meetings also reduced time available for smaller meetings focused on innovation and creative ideas, which enthused the engineers. 

Leadership sets the tone for an organization and is pivotal in determining your credit union’s culture. It’s time to take action when unproductive habits unwittingly permeate the leadership in an organization or a department. Any actions must be based on fact and analysis. A good place to start is with data collection that can uncover meeting behaviors that decrease engagement, which can be easily corrected through the proper education and training. Furthermore, understanding your most senior manager’s meeting patterns is a good jumping off point for a more in-depth analysis of your organization’s culture which is impacting upon productivity, creativity, engagement and results. 

Stuart R. Levine

Stuart R. Levine

Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture. SL&A ... Web: Details

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