Punctual Meetings are More Productive

Interview

It’s not just you who thinks there’s too much useless chatter at the start of the meeting. Meetings that don’t start on time are less efficient than those that do, and less creative. Another neat factor researchers found out is that people are less satisfied with a meeting that starts late, so if you want a reputation of running good meetings that aren’t a waste of time then start on time.
The next time you run a meeting skip the small talk and get down to what you’re meeting about.

Meeting lateness is pervasive and potentially highly consequential for individuals, groups, and organizations. In Study 1, we first examined base rates of lateness to meetings in an employee sample and found that meeting lateness is negatively related to both meeting satisfaction and effectiveness. We then conducted 2 lab studies to better understand the nature of this negative relationship between meeting lateness and meeting outcomes. In Study 2, we manipulated meeting lateness using a confederate and showed that participants’ anticipated meeting satisfaction and effectiveness were significantly lower when meetings started late. In Study 3, participants holding actual group meetings were randomly and blindly assigned to either a 10 min late, 5 min late, or a control condition (n = 16 groups in each condition). We found significant differences concerning participants’ perceived meeting satisfaction and meeting effectiveness, as well as objective group performance outcomes (number, quality, and feasibility of ideas produced in the meeting). We also identified differences in negative socioemotional group interaction behaviors depending on meeting lateness. In concert, our findings establish meeting lateness as an important organizational phenomenon and provide important conceptual and empirical implications for meeting research and practice.

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