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Team Meetings - 14 April 2015

Empirical estimates suggest approximately half of all workplace meetings are a total waste of time. It’s probably unsurprising, then, to learn they’re one trapdoor through which employee engagement plummets.

New research released by the University of Nebraska reveals how this can be mitigated. The researchers discovered employees end up being more engaged when, during a team meeting, they’re actively involved in decision-making.

This can be explained by what’s known as the norm of reciprocity, which means employees see their involvement in decision-making as a reward, and so they reciprocate their leader’s generosity by being more energised and dedicated. So, to ramp up employee decision-making in meetings, and to subsequently raise levels of engagement, try the following:

Make it safe to do so: Encourage employees to share their ideas, feelings, opinions and beliefs. Paraphrase what they say and genuinely reflect on their thoughts. Be vigilant in stopping others from belittling or punishing the contributions that are made.

Strengthen the relationship: People will open up only when trust is present. You can speed up this process by adopting a supportive leadership style. This is evident in leaders who prioritise their employees’ wellbeing, listen to their concerns, and demonstrate they care.

Have fewer meetings: The researchers discovered that, for the purposes of engagement, it’s better to have only a few meetings of high quality than to have many ineffective ones. This can be attributed to the critical role of memory. A higher frequency of mediocre meetings generates a greater number of poor experiences for people to remember, thereby relegating the few engaging meetings to the realm of the forgotten.

As the cartoonist, Ashley Brilliant, once illustrated: “Meetings are usually held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings.”

To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click here.

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