Workers Tire of Disorganized Meetings
No one disputes the need for staff meetings.
But do they have to be so time-consuming? And do organizers and participants have to be so rude?
"My first recollection is utter and complete boredom because they could all be over in 10 percent of the time," said Jean Marie Fish, who recently retired after working 28 years in corporate media and media buying for Unilever, first in Englewood Cliffs and later in Manhattan.
Fish is not alone. Disorganized, rambling meetings top the list of pet peeves, cited by 27 percent of workers polled by Princeton-based Opinion Research Corp.
"Structured business meetings with a closely followed agenda are often the most productive, particularly when attention spans can be short," said Jeff Resnick, president of Opinion Research USA. "A disorganized meeting is a disengaged meeting that will rarely result in the desired outcomes."
The second-ranked complaint is people who interrupt their peers and try to dominate the meeting. It was cited by 17 percent of those polls, one point ahead of cellphone interruptions.
The top five also included people who fall asleep in meetings (9 percent) and meetings with no bathroom breaks (8 percent).
The survey also showed that coming late or leaving early is less of a concern than disorganized meetings or those in which the leader allows one person to dominate with what one executive called "useless or irrelevant information downloads to the group."
"We call those people the 'human rain-delay,' " said Ski Austin of Tenafly, the National Basketball Association's executive vice president for events and attractions.
Although cellphone interruptions rank high on the list, workers evidently find Blackberry use in meetings less intrusive, placing it eighth at 5 percent.
But it is a growing problem, and "my No. 1 pet peeve," Austin said.
"It used to be that you could gather a group of people with a single-purpose topic into a conference room and have the full attention by having removed them from the potential distractions within their own workspace," he said.
"Now, unless you have a Blackberry embargo, one constantly finds heads down and hands flicking emails back to various co-workers or contacts during your meeting," Austin said.
"While many people are hesitant to actively stand up and leave the room to take a cellphone call, those same people think nothing of a quick email to so-and-so, as it doesn't cause the same disruption," he said.
"It's really annoying when you know people in the meeting are emailing each other."
Even so, it can come in handy.
"I was in one of those deadly, never-ending meetings, so I hit the speed dial on my Blackberry to have it call my cellphone, and left the room to 'take that call,' " Austin said.
"Sometimes, technology can work in your favor as well!"