* Morning or "breakfast" meetings: Notwithstanding the lure of pastries, these meetings are simply a bad idea. Who wants to meet about anything first thing in the morning?
* "Off-site" meetings: These gatherings in a non-work environment are supposed to inspire employees to think more creatively about old problems—to "clear the slate" for fresh insights. In truth, however, such meetings waste the time spent traveling and calling in for messages and money spent renting a space and catering lunch.
* "After work" meetings: These are the ones held when you want to be with family or friends, or work out, or simply not think about work. These meetings are rarely productive.Of course I acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons to meet. Which brings me to the second best way to limit time wasted at meetings: Establish ground rules that maximize effectiveness and efficiency. Here are some of the most powerful rules for faster meetings:1. One person controls the meeting— period!2. Unless the meeting is spontaneous, inform all participants ahead of time about the meeting's duration, attendees, agenda and (if applicable) what they need to bring or prepare.3. Be sure there is a clock visible to all.4. Stick to the agenda at hand; avoid tangents and trivial chitchat.5. Apply the "No-Repeat Rule:" No one repeats something that has already been said.6. If a topic gets bogged down, move on to the next and return to the stalemated subject later.7. Conclude with a recap, including some time to resolve any confusion or misunderstanding. Follow up with an e-mail or brief memo outlining the gist—topics discussed and (especially) decisions reached. At the recap and in the memo, be sure to identify who's responsible for specific further actions. If possible, include a firm date for any follow-up meeting.Remember, all IS magazine readers are welcome to send me their resumes to be critiqued or their career questions. For the honest truth about what to do with your career, or the difficulty in trying to find a job, e-mail your most candid questions for a private response: [email protected]. I am listening.
The Viscusi Group, Inc. (www.viscusi group.com) is an executive search firm for the interior furnishings industry. Stephen Viscusi is the author of On The Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work (Crown: Three Rivers Press). He also hosts the nationally-syndicated radio show, "On the Job with Steve Viscusi." Send questions for future installments of this column to: [email protected].