For many managers, work is one uninterrupted meeting, with only occasional changes in personnel to freshen the scene. One researcher has estimated that middle-level managers spend up to 30 per cent of their time in meetings, rising to 50 per cent for top managers.1 Mintzberg goes further, calculating that managers spend 59 per cent of their time in scheduled meetings and another 10 per cent in unscheduled meetings.2 These are often profitable, productive and pleasurable. At their best, meetings ‘provide a means for participants to discuss and plan goals and objectives, keep up-to-date on events, encourage communication and pull resources together for strong decision-making and action planning’.3 Unfortunately, many meetings are also held in a leaderless vacuum, in which all life forms perish. Roles are never defined. People feel powerless to influence events and eventually abdicate all sense of responsibility. Action is on a permanent leave of absence.
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