I'm Busy - I Have Three Meetings Today

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According to Patrick Lencioni, author of the book, Death by Meeting, people hate meetings for two reasons. First, they are boring, painful and tedious. Second, meetings are unproductive.

In a Wall Street Journal poll, CEOs listed meetings as the single largest category of unproductive time on their schedules. Yet, as much as meetings are loathed, they are often critical to the success of a firm.

When asked about what he would say to a CEO that thinks meetings are a waste of time, Lencioni said:

"I'd say that CEO is failing. Anyone who leads and manages people needs to understand that meetings are critical to any organization, and there is no good excuse for bad ones. A bad meeting is a function of its leader."

Most meetings are boring because they lack conflict. If you are leading firm meetings, you need to give your people something to care about, something worth engaging in conflict over. Raise their level of anxiety about what could go wrong if they don't engage. And you need to raise these issues at the beginning of your meeting, before your audience checks out. The good news is that there are plenty of issues at every firm meeting that have the potential for productive, relevant conflict.

As a general statement, most accountants hate conflict and avoid it like the plague. Yet, conflict - lively discussion, differing opinions and airing all sides of an issue are invaluable in moving a firm forward. When partners (or other meeting participants) do not speak up and simply nod through meetings, you can bet the best decisions are not being made.

Read more from Lencioni here. Check out the meeting tools he offers on his site here.

"Based on my interaction with CEOs and other executives, hatred of meetings is commonplace."
Patrick Lencioni


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