Meeting Overload? Control Meeting Saturation by Understanding Their Hidden Agendas

Last Updated Oct 11, 2010 1:03 AM EDT

Everyone, conventional wisdom claims, hates meetings. That's why there's a veritable industry designed to train managers and line workers about how to conduct better, more effective, less intrusive meetings. We've even told you about tools and processes designed to help you avoid non-essential meetings.

Yet despite all the best of intentions, people still claim that they're weighed down with long, pointless, and unnecessary meetings. What's the disconnect?

According to the Harvard Business Review, not everyone hates meetings. In fact, many managers secretly love them. And if managers love meetings, it's no wonder they continue to thrive. Like a mole at CTU, people in your organization are working at cross-purposes when they schedule meetings.

The HBR suggests that there are several reasons why manager secretly love meetings. If you understand these reasons, you can factor them into your planning and use the information to control meeting overkill:

  • They are social events. People may claim they don't like meetings, but at the same time, they don't like working alone. Meetings are an opportunity for social interaction. As the HBR says: "Some of the seemingly off-target chatter in meetings (even the complaining) is actually the realization of an important social outlet."
  • They keep everyone in the loop. Meetings help people across the team or organization stay connected, in the loop, and better informed. As the HBR says, "meetings serve as the informal loom that weaves together the organizational threads."
  • They represent status. Membership on committees and v-teams means your opinion is valued, and you have a certain status within the organization. They also give attendees and speakers visibility. People might dismiss meetings, but they secretly enjoy the status they infer.
Photo courtesy Flickr user tiarescott