Groundhog Day – Why Are Meetings So Bad

January 1, 2011
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In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) finds himself caught in a special kind of hell as he wakes up each morning to find it is Groundhog Day all over again. Many of us have to attend the same horrible meeting, week after week, trapped in our own version of Groundhog Day hell.

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What is a “Groundhog Day Meeting”? We intuitively know because at various times we have all attended really bad meetings. Such
meetings have the following characteristics:

  • The decision makers were absent.
  • Wrong people were in the room.
  • Everyone came unprepared.
  • Nothing was accomplished at the meeting.

Some hints that your meeting is dysfunctional:

  • Repeating the same meeting every week.
  • You left the meeting feeling frustrated.
  • You are unclear about your action items.
  • Nothing happened between meetings.

Why ineffective managers call meetings:

  • We have a “crisis” and need action.
  • Make others feel the heat.
  • Don’t know what else to do.

Bad meetings are so common they seem like an almost essential part of the human condition. Why are so many meetings so bad? Why do we suffer and put up with it?

“Life is a meeting”. When two or more people get together, we have a meeting. Given the importance of meetings in our lives, it is remarkable how few people have received professional training in meeting skills. Our meetings are bad because we don’t know the
simple rules of how to run them professionally.

In future issues of this newsletter, you will find out how to:

  • Plan and prepare for a meeting.
  • Avoid going to bad meetings.
  • Hold other people accountable.
  • Keep track of decisions, issues and actions.
  • Use rules, roles and tools to run meetings.

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