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Meetings bulk large; job satisfaction and suggestions for improvement

“One study suggests that the number of meetings attended by the average executive doubled between the 1960s and the 1980s.” According to other researchers, “Senior managers attend nearly 23 hours of meetings every week, and people working for large organizations tend to have more meetings than those in smaller ones.” Both quotes come from a useful article about meetings in MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Winter 2007 at 18 (See my post of Oct. 19, 2005 on communication tools for managers.). Both findings apply directly to in-house counsel, especially senior lawyers in large companies.

Oddly, “researchers have found no direct relationship between a person’s obligations to attend meetings (the number of meetings and time spent) and his or her job satisfaction.” It turns out that when people have a strong drive to accomplish their work, meetings diminish job satisfaction; for those who are less goal oriented more meetings are actually more desirable (See my post of Oct. 22, 2006 on bureaucracy and meetings.).

Yet meetings are very important to how one feels about one’s work. Three studies found that “the single most powerful factor in job satisfaction is how one feels about the effectiveness of the meetings he or she attends” (See my posts of March 27, 2005 about productivity muted by meetings; March 6, 2006 on decision-making at meetings; Dec. 7, 2005 on communication time wasters.).

To improve the quality of meetings, that authors recommend that law department managers focus on three fronts: “improving employees’ skills at meetings; improving managers’ skills at meetings; and implementing best practices for running particular types of meetings.” The article explains each of these ways to enhance meetings. Some of the ideas have been addressed here (See my posts of Sept. 27, 2005 and June 28, 2005, April 8, 2005, Oct. 19, 2005, Jan. 14, 2007 #2, and March 12, 2006 about facilitators, scribes, conference room rules, telecommuting, agenda time in proportion to a topics importance, and voting software, respectively.).