It’s a scenario playing out in millions of conference rooms across the country every day: employees sneaking glances at their watches during a meeting that started late, wondering when they will be able to get back to doing their jobs as the manager drones on about a half-relevant topic with seemingly little interest in letting anyone else offer input or otherwise participate. And what’s worse, it’s only the first meeting in a day packed with them.
Recent estimates indicate more than 55 million meetings happen daily in the U.S., and findings show roughly half of meetings are rated as poor. For businesses where these bad meetings are occurring, the problem goes well beyond managers being lampooned in water-cooler jokes over their talent for putting employees to sleep. Ample evidence shows ineffective meetings reduce employee engagement, increase burnout and turnover and, ultimately, crush the bottom line.
Further, ineffective safety meetings result in lack of awareness of hazards, cutting corners in dangerous environments, and reductions in safety culture. Bad safety meetings put employees and their employers at risk for injury, lawsuits, and fatalities. Thus, making the boardroom meeting better is important, but making safety meetings better is simply the right thing to do!
The Center for Meeting Effectiveness (CME) within the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health aims to address the problem. We work to improve employee engagement, well-being, and safety, one meeting at a time. Better meetings have been linked to improved performance on every level, from individuals to teams to entire organizations. At the CME, we offer science-based meeting management best practices for the purpose of improving meeting inputs, process, and outcomes.
The CME is available to assist businesses and other organizations that need help creating a successful meeting culture. Our services include all levels of evaluation of meetings, as well as standardized assessments of organizational outcomes and properties, including employee engagement, safety climate, injuries, hazards, and more. Our team builds interventions designed to solve specific problems within an organization from simple monologuers in conference rooms, to supervisors who are not providing a psychological safe environment for discussing occupational hazards. Our interventions are based in meeting and occupational/environmental health sciences.
Adaptive Improvement Model – Base Offering
- Up to three interviews for assessing organizational meeting culture and pain points
- Up to two team observations and focus group sessions
- Cohort survey of meeting experiences and KPI metrics
- Analysis of needs assessment data and report to organizational stakeholders
- Prepare materials for workshops, team coaching sessions, booster webinar, etc.
Training and booster training
- One large group workshop
- Up to three team coaching sessions
- One webinar booster training
- Up to five one-on-one coaching sessions with team leaders
Post assessment and follow-up
- Cohort survey of meeting experiences and KPI metrics
- Up to three interviews and coaching sessions
- Up to three team observations and focus group sessions
- Follow-up session with report and planning process
While we recommend organizations begin with our Adaptive Improvement Model, which provides a holistic range of services, we also offer services that can be utilized on an a la carte basis.
Needs Assessment and Post-Training Interviews
These interviews are customized, structured sessions concerning individual meeting experiences. For the needs assessment, the interviews provide a robust window into individual-level experiences in meetings before training/intervention. The post-training sessions provide reactions to the training and individual-level descriptions of changes resulting from the training. Additional interviews are often required to obtain a clear picture of the organizational meeting culture.
An expert meeting observer attends a team meeting and uses a checklist to identify best practices and problematic behaviors. Team leaders receive a one-page summary of the observation identifying things to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. These are used during the needs assessment to identify patterns of behavior that need attention during training. These are also used post-training to determine how effectively skills are transferred into the team setting and to assist with coaching sessions.
The CME meeting climate survey uses validated, reliable metrics for assessing individual- and team-level meeting experiences. The survey is administered as part of the needs assessment and post-training evaluation to provide a benchmark and measure change for a variety of key performance indicators, including meeting load metrics (such as meetings per day/week) and meeting experience metrics (such as satisfaction/effectiveness of meetings).
In our customized workshops, we use the knowledge we gain about your organization to provide best practices, tips, and tricks about how to improve meeting experiences and address meeting overload. Each workshop includes instruction and demonstration. We conclude each session with a reflective process that allows for building individual and team intervention strategies, which creates buy-in from all participants. An expert meeting observer attends a team meeting and uses a checklist to identify best practices and problematic behaviors. Team leaders receive a one-page summary of the observation identifying things to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. These are used during the needs assessment to identify patterns of behavior that need attention during training. These are also used post-training to determine how effectively skills are transferred into the team setting and to assist with coaching sessions.
Each team has its own meeting culture that usually has some similarities to and differences from other teams within the same organization. As such, we offer team coaching sessions where we take a deep dive into a team’s meeting experiences and flow. These sessions are usually paired with a meeting observation or two to provide appropriate background for the coaching session.
Many of the organizations we work with want one-on-one coaching for their executive team or for specific team leaders. In these sessions, we discuss the leaders’ experiences in meetings, identify key issues they are dealing with, and provide science-based recommendations for how to proceed with their meetings. For team leaders, we often recommend a meeting observation to be paired with a coaching session.
As meeting scientists, we also specialize in data composition, analysis, and interpretation. For the Adaptive Improvement Model services, we complete a needs assessment report and a final comparative analysis report after the post assessment. All analyses are included. However, clients often request additional analyses on data we collect or analyses/interpretation of their in-house data. For these requests, we base our cost structure on a sliding scale depending on the complexity and skills needed for analysis and interpretation.
Our software uses calendar data and a feedback system to obtain objective and subjective experiences with meetings. This, paired with AI-based coaching, allows us to identify and resolve meeting weaknesses.
Tips for Running Effective Meetings
Before the Meeting
- Call a meeting only when necessary
- Schedule meeting length to fit with meeting goals; avoid long meetings
- Keep meeting size small by only including those whose expertise/knowledge is required
- Match technology to meeting objectives—use rich media (such as videoconferencing, teleconferencing) for virtual attendees
Leader and attendee responsibilities
- Set clear goals and desired outcomes for the meeting
- Prepare an agenda and circulate it in advance
- Make sure the meeting is relevant to everyone invited
- Come prepared by reviewing agenda
- Ensure technology is working and ready to go prior to the meeting
During the Meeting
- Arrive early (or on time)
- Avoid complaining, dominating communication behavior, inappropriate verbal statements
- Avoid doing unrelated activities and/or non-participation
- Appropriately use mute functions and limit background noise (virtual)
- All attendees have their cameras on (virtual)
- Speak up if meeting technology/software is not properly functioning (hybrid)
- Follow an agenda that lays out clear goals and outcomes for the meeting
- Start the meeting on time
- Avoid distractions, multitasking during the meeting
- Allow attendees to participate in decision-making process. If a decision is already made, let everyone know
- Actively encourage everyone to participate
- Intervene when interpersonal communication patterns become dysfunctional
- Provide instructions on how to access the virtual meeting space (virtual)
- Acknowledge comments in the chat (virtual)
- Ask for feedback from online participants throughout the meeting (hybrid)
After the Meeting
- Send meeting minutes, action items out immediately following conclusion
- Briefly assess meeting satisfaction, quality immediately following conclusion to inform future meeting design
- Incorporate meeting satisfaction as a component of organization-wide employee engagement/satisfaction surveys
- Have leaders critically examine routine meetings to determine their necessity and value
Publications and Reports
At RMCOEH's Center for Meeting Effectiveness, we take pride in unearthing knowledge about how meetings work, how they're changing, and how they can be done better. Our researchers seek to push meeting science forward and are active in publishing technical reports, white papers, and peer-reviewed studies. Below is a selection of publications that illustrate our expertise and passion for pursuing what's on the next horizon.
- The Key Features of Workplace Meetings: Conceptualizing the Why, How, and What of Meetings at Work
- Meeting Science Meets Public Health: Results from the ‘‘Stress and Violence in Fire-Based EMS Responders (SAVER)” Systems Checklist Consensus Conference
- Creation of a Systems-Level Checklist to Address Stress and Violence in Fire-Based Emergency Medical Services Responders
- Interplay between Safety Climate and Emotional Exhaustion: Effects on First Responders’ Safety Behavior and Wellbeing Over Time
- Mitigating Violence Against First Responder Teams: Results and Ideas From the Hackmanathon
- Model Policies to Protect U.S. Fire-Based EMS Responders From Workplace Stress and Violence
- Moving FOCUS – The Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety survey – From Research to Practice
- Situational Pressures that Influence Firefighters’ Decision Making about Personal Protective Equipment: A Qualitative Analysis
- Size Matters: How Safety Climate and Downstream Outcomes Vary by Fire Department Organization Type
- A Systematic Review of Workplace Violence Against Emergency Medical Services Responders
Email us at email@example.com or call us at 801-581-4800 to learn more about utilizing our services.
Meet the CME Director
Joseph A. Allen, PhD, is a professor of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology at the University of Utah. His research focuses on three areas: the study of workplace meetings, organizational community engagement, and occupational safety and health. He has more than 200 publications in academic outlets and has authored or co-authored approximately 25% of all peer-reviewed research on the topic of meeting science. He has published several books, including “Running Effective Meetings for Dummies,” “Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work,” “Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting,” and “The Burned Out Physician: Managing the Stress and Reducing the Errors.”