The Surprising Science of Meetings
How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance
A recent estimate suggests that employees endure a staggering 55 million meetings a day in the United States. This tremendous time investment yields only modest returns. No organization made up of human beings is immune from the all-too-common meeting gripes: those that fail to engage, those that inadvertently encourage participants to tune out, and those that blatantly disregard participants' time.
Most companies and leaders view poor meetings as an inevitable cost of doing business. But managers can take heart: researchers now have a clear understanding of the key drivers that make meetings successful. In The Surprising Science of Meetings, Steven G. Rogelberg, researcher and consultant to some of the world's most successful companies, draws from extensive research, analytics and data mining, and survey interviews with over 5,000 employees across a range of industries to share the proven practices and techniques that help managers and employees enhance the quality of their meetings. For those who lead and participate in meetings, Rogelberg provides immediate direction, guidance, and relief, offering a how-to guide to change your working life starting today.
Science, yes but there's little surprising about this slim, narrow-scope proposal from Rogelberg, a UNC Charlotte management and psychology professor. Setting the scene, he observes in the preface that meetings have their upsides when done well, they provide employees with "organizational democracy" and "buy-in" but also get a consistently bad rap, and for good reason. In one study, 47% of workers reported meetings as the number-one time-waster in their offices. Rogelberg's stated goal, then, is to bring a systematic, statistics-based approach to understanding and improving meetings, usable not just in the workplace but in community and religious gatherings as well. How can meetings be more productive and does science have the answer? One obstacle is that people, according to studies, tend to naturally overestimate their own leadership ability but, Rogelberg counsels, the typical manager can do better by shortening meetings, inviting fewer participants, keeping the tone positive, and avoiding the "folly" of remote call-ins. Simultaneously sparse and padded, Rogelberg's work only confirms what the average office worker already knew even without the benefit of scientific confirmation.