I’m quite choosy about recommending other people’s work, but sometimes I come across some tips that are so good I just have to share them with you. So today’s post is about an episode of the ReThinking podcast with organizational psychologist Adam Grant (note: I don’t have any association with the podcast, but it will deliver lots of value to my subscribers, so I’m happy).

The episode covered, among other things, why meetings so often go wrong, and a barrowload of tips to fix them, plus mini case-studies of how these tips have been used in companies like Asana, Dropbox, and Microsoft Japan.

I learned about some concepts that were new to me (or in some cases, that put a name to something that we’ve all experienced) like ‘Meeting Recovery Syndrome’: when you have a bad meeting, it sticks with you and you ruminate on it, draining your productivity – plus you feel the need to seek out someone else and co-ruminate on it. Fans of Gervase Bushe’s great Clear Leadership book (affiliate link) will recognize that co-rumination as one of the problems contributing to ‘interpersonal mush’ – the fog of misunderstanding, gossip, and misplaced assumptions about leaders’ intentions – in the workplace.

Or ‘Pluralistic Ignorance’ – where people go along with group norms because they think they’re alone in disagreeing with them, when in fact everyone else is going along with them for the same reason (as illustrated by another new one on me – the ‘Abilene Paradox’).

I learned from the episode that there are four conversations worth having (no relation to the excellent Appreciative Inquiry book of the same name (affiliate link)) to create better meeting norms:

  1. Talk about when you actually need a meeting, and when you don’t.
  2. Talk about how long each meeting needs to be, rather than going for a standard meeting length.
  3. Who gets invited? Who actually needs to be there?
  4. Talk about how to invite active participation. One excellent tip, from interviewee Steven Rogelberg, author of The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance (affiliate link), is to write the meeting agenda as questions to be answered. In doing so, the meeting leader really has to think “Why are we getting together?” – and it also makes them elicit everyone’s contribution to get the most from the meeting.

There are lots more ideas and tips in the episode – so if you want to learn what to do about ‘meeting FOMO’, ‘productivity paranoia’, and the benefits of having a ‘Meeting Doomsday’, listen to it here. There’s a transcript too.

I was impressed how much they could pack into a zippy 34-minute easy listen, and the ReThink podcast has gone straight onto my list of subscriptions.

If you’d like to learn the most productive ways to frame those questions for your meeting agenda, and get an effective approach for engaging your team, join the Practical Appreciative Inquiry training starting January 2024. It’s not that far off, but at the time of writing there’s still time to get the early booking discount if you book now!

“I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in working with leaders on this brilliant model” – Brenda Abdilla, CEO/Management Momentum LLC, USA


Can’t make the course dates? Get the self-paced version, or buy the Practical Appreciative Inquiry book

Do Your Meetings Suck? Here’s How to Make Them Better

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