Why cancelling meeting is a bad idea

So a member of staff’s appraisal is due (let’s call him Jim) and then his boss (we’ll call him Mark) cancels it and reschedules for a later date. On Mark’s priority list it’s fairly low down but of course on Jim’s list of important meetings, it’s right at the top.

So what message is Mark sending Jim? He is pretty much saying “you’re not important and your performance and development is not important to me.” Now when Mark’s appraisal does finally happen, it won’t have the same focus, attention and energy as it would have first time around.

I am not suggesting things don’t happen that force you to re arrange meetings, I am suggesting Mark thought carefully when the meeting was scheduled, considering his workload and deadlines, to see if the date suggested was realistic or not, and once he accepted it, he did whatever he could to ensure it happened.

This scenario happens all too often and I have had many conversations with clients about the implications of changing meetings. Managers, of course think their time and workload is tougher than anyone else’s, so feel justified in changing and rearranging meetings (thank god for the amazing PAs out there!).

Rearranging or being late for meetings sends another poor message: “My time is more important than yours” which of course is not true (I have written about this before).

There is a lot of content in the web about how to run a great meeting but my 6 golden rules are:

  • Think carefully when you schedule or accept a meeting – what is your workload like?   Will you have time to prepare? Etc.
  • Start a meeting on time (even if everyone isn’t there – that way you send a very clear message)
  • Be clear about the length of the meeting and ALWAYS finish on time (even if you haven’t gotten through the agenda)
  • Talking of which, if the agenda is too long for the length of time you have, the prioritise you agenda points
  • Take actions not notes/minutes (all we really need is to capture who agreed to do what and by when)
  • Don’t have a reoccurring agenda – creates tedious meetings so either create the agenda at the start of the meeting or the week before – involving as many of the attendees (that way you make it ‘our meeting’ rather than ‘my meeting’ – thus creating more engagement).

Want some help improving your communications? Then get in touch.




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