4 Distractions that Derail Meetings — and How to Handle Them

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Meetings are critical for achieving goals, as they foster unity and facilitate communication, planning, and alignment — but only if they’re run effectively. Poorly run meetings negatively affect a team’s performance, cohesion, and ultimately its success in meeting its goals.

In a survey of senior managers, 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. And a study of 20 organizations revealed that dysfunctional behaviors in meetings — like complaining or criticizing others — are associated with lower market share, less innovation, and lower employee engagement.

See if the following scenario sounds familiar: You receive a meeting invitation whose title is simply “Product Launch,” with no further details. You attend the meeting because your team handles a launch component and you want to ensure you’re not missing anything. Lisa, the team lead, introduces the new product line. However, within minutes, the conversation takes a turn when John, a senior marketing executive, starts complaining about the company’s culture and lack of support from upper management. This sparks an unrelated, heated debate about the company’s culture instead of the product launch. Everybody is confused and frustrated.

Over many years of working with teams and coaching team leaders, I’ve observed four dysfunctional behaviors that cause meetings to derail. To ensure productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, managers need to know how to spot, prevent, and deal with these behaviors when they appear.


https://hbr.org/resources/images/article_assets/2023/05/May23_19_671809098.jpgOzgur Donmaz/Getty Images



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