Q. My boss often calls lengthy meetings which are rarely productive. In these meetings, we are all expected to contribute to the agenda and we all do, but these suggestions are never implemented. How do you tactfully let such a boss know that he’s inefficient and is wasting your time?
Sitting through a drawn-out meeting, especially one that is of little productive consequence can be a dreary experience even for those not given to impatience.
And if indeed suggestions made at such meetings do not see the light of day, one could find them wasteful since the time they drain could otherwise be more meaningfully employed. It might surprise you though how prevalent inefficient or altogether needless meetings can be in organisations.
Has anyone in the team raised the matter of inefficient meetings with your boss yet? If so what has been the response? Feedback is likely to yield dividends if it is candid, respectful and timely. Leadership Coach, Assegid Habtewold, says, “Don't use proxies when you give tough feedbacks. Be direct! Rather than saying 'some people don't even know how to pick the right tie', pull aside the person who needs your feedback, and tell him/her in his/her face: 'Your tie doesn't match with the event', and offer some options.”
Let your boss know how the meetings are viewed by the team. The purpose of your feedback should be to raise his awareness of the impact of his behaviour, not catharsis for your frustration. It is also important to mind the suitability of timing and place where the feedback is given.
Giving feedback in private may mitigate defensiveness, an element that could undermine its effectiveness.
Consider suggesting that someone should note key action items during meetings and ensure that they begin with a recap of achievements and pending items from previous ones. Perhaps alongside this, someone could be assigned the responsibility of following up action items from the meetings. Nothing stops you from suggesting that the time spent in meetings could be scaled down to free up time for other work. If he heeds the suggestions, make the point of directly acknowledging the improvements made.
If your feedback is however met with rebuff and you find few compensating positive attributes to write home about your boss, it might be time to consider looking for a new one.