How Meetings can make or break your Career

Published on 22nd August 2017 in Leadership

Insights that could change your career

Jack Welsh is one of the world’s most respected and celebrated CEOs. He transformed GE and revenues grew five-fold from $25 to $130 billion. Since retirement, he has become an author and visiting a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The below is a summary of his recent article that challenges the way you should behave in meetings.

Here are a couple of truths about meetings.

  1. Yes, meetings can be boring. Yes, there are usually too many of them, too often, that are too long. Yes, they are often circular in nature, i.e., conclusion-less. Everyone hates meetings unless it was you who called the meeting.
  2. Complaining about meetings is an enervating exercise that serves no useful purpose and will do nothing but hurt your career.
    So what can and should you do about meetings?
  3.  Change your attitude. And do it fast. While it may be tempting to tune out and just go through the motions, every time you have a meeting, you have an opportunity to elevate the conversation. You can’t get cynical about it. You can’t go to these meetings with, “Let’s see how it flies.” You have to come in ready to own it, with a clear picture of why you’re there, what you’re trying to deliver and where you stand on the outcome. If you come in fully prepared to add value, with a positive attitude and the data to take the discourse in the meeting to a new level, you’ll see that the meeting no longer feels like an exercise in clock-watching or multi-tasking.

After the meeting, give yourself a mirror-test appraisal where you ask:

  • Was my attitude energising or enervating?
  • Was my body language positive or negative?
  • Did I ask great questions?
  • Did I generate ideas?
  • Did I use data to make a point?
  • Did I listen to other people’s thoughts effectively and build on them?
  • Did I successfully influence the group to come to a key decision?
  • Did I truly contribute in a positive way and leave everyone in the meeting feeling good about my participation and attitude?

Think hard about your performance and give yourself a grade. If it’s too difficult to evaluate yourself, you might also ask a colleague or two for feedback, “How did I do in the meeting? What could I do better?”

Because the reality is, every time you go to a meeting, you’re getting a performance appraisal. Too often, people think of performance evaluations as being career-altering events once or twice a year. Just remember, every meeting, whether it be a budget review, a strategy session, a simple productivity session, or your team’s weekly status update is a performance review for you. Don’t let your feelings and behaviours in these encounters kill your career. They will, if you exhibit the negative characteristics above.

Instead, approach every meeting with a purposeful, high-energy, ready-to-make-a-contribution attitude, and watch how fast leadership’s perception of you follows your behaviour. Not to mention how much more meaningful your meetings become.


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