Bad Meetings Generate Real Human Suffering

When I think of suffering, I typically think first about major trials such as famines or significant personal hardship. As we probably should.

But there are many forms of suffering, some of which we are responsible for placing on others. In our organizations, bad meetings are one such instance that deserve more attention.

Bad meetings have an effect on people beyond the meeting itself. They have ripple effects that flow throughout the organization and, perhaps even worse, into the lives and homes of our employees.

Alternatively, running effective meetings — meetings where you get things done and people actually enjoy being there — creates positive ripple effects that impact the organization and, perhaps more importantly, the lives and homes of our employees.

Patrick Lencioni makes this point very well in his book Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (p. 253):

Bad meetings exact a toll on the human beings who must endure them, and this goes far beyond mere momentary dissatisfaction. Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. And while this certainly has a profound impact on organizational life, it also impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life.

And so, for those of us who lead organizations and the employees who work within them, improving meetings is not just an opportunity to enhance the performance of our companies. It is also a way to positively impact the lives of our people. And that includes us.

  • Matt