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Teams in organizations have weekly – or even daily – meetings to exchange information, generate ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. Yet, many team meetings are…
Teams in organizations have weekly – or even daily – meetings to exchange information, generate ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. Yet, many team meetings are described as ineffective by the participants, due to either their design or dysfunctional communication practices within the meeting. To gain new insights into addressing these issues, this chapter goes back deep in history and discusses the origins and functions of group meetings. Building upon evolutionary theories of human behavior, the authors examine the evolutionary significance of meetings and the ways in which they were adaptive for our human ancestors. Drawing from this evolutionary perspective, we then compare meetings in ancestral times with their modern-day counterparts. Using evidence from (a) ethnographic studies of small-scale societies that model ancestral group life and (b) organizational and team science, we contrast the typical workplace meeting with its ancient counterpart. In this review of ancient and modern meetings, we identify meeting characteristics that have been maintained through time as well as those that are unique/new in the modern time. In doing so, we inspect to what extent meeting practices in ancestral environments are aligned or at odds with meeting practices in contemporary organizations (the notion of mismatch). From these similarities and differences, we derive novel theoretical insights for the study of workplace meetings as well as suggestions for improving contemporary meeting practice. We also include a series of testable propositions that can inform future research on team meetings in organizations.
Debriefs are a type of workplace meeting that often use after events and critical incidents. Debriefs are used to review performance, promote shared learning and…
Debriefs are a type of workplace meeting that often use after events and critical incidents. Debriefs are used to review performance, promote shared learning and understanding, and improve future team performance. Similarly, reflexivity refers to the extent to which team members reflect upon and openly discuss group processes, procedures, and actions to improve future team performance. In this chapter, the authors review the separate literatures and explore the relationship between debriefs and reflexivity. While the debrief literature does focus on aspects of reflection, what occurs between the aspects of reflection, planning, and action is left unexplored. The concept of reflexivity fits well with the successful use of debriefs, as reflexivity ensures that reflection results in outcomes and moves beyond just an overview or discussion during debriefing. Additionally, important constructs such as psychological safety and sensemaking are relevant to both debriefs and reflexivity such that open and honest discussion as well as developing shared understanding are necessary for effective debriefing and reflection. Using the constructs of psychological safety and sensemaking, the authors propose a model that situates both reflexivity and effective debriefs in the context of team learning. This model integrates team reflexivity with team debriefs, provides a better understanding of how teams can carry out more effective debriefs, and explains how more effective debriefing and greater team reflexivity lead to enhanced learning and improvement in team performance.
Previous research on workplace meetings identified critical design features, leader behaviors, group dynamics, post-meeting actions, and other factors which help determine…
Previous research on workplace meetings identified critical design features, leader behaviors, group dynamics, post-meeting actions, and other factors which help determine the effectiveness of the meeting. But as much as the authors acknowledge that meetings may differ from each other, much of the research appears to assume that it is meaningful to talk about “the meeting” as a single, generic entity (most commonly, the regularly scheduled staff or department meeting). In fact, though, there are several common types of meetings which vary among themselves in terms of a number of measurable parameters such as structure, meeting members, meeting leader, timing and duration, and scope. It is a gratuitous assumption that what the authors know about workplace meetings based on one especially common type applies to all workplace meetings. This chapter offers a historical review of previous attempts to classify meeting types; it then overviews several common types which deviate from the standard staff meeting paradigm, including project team meetings, debrief meetings, committee meetings, site-wide meetings, shift change meetings, and crew formation meetings. In comparing these types to the staff meeting, the authors identify some of the critical differences, thereby providing a first step toward a true taxonomy of meetings.
The purpose of this study was to investigate how a key meeting design characteristic, meeting size, affects the relationship between meeting effectiveness and task…
The purpose of this study was to investigate how a key meeting design characteristic, meeting size, affects the relationship between meeting effectiveness and task performance through employee engagement.
A three-wave time-lagged survey design was used to gather data concerning meeting experiences from employees for statistical model testing.
Using a moderated mediated path analysis, we found that effective meetings only translated into end-of-the-day task performance through engagement when the meeting size was small.
Although much research supports the current findings related to group size and meetings, meeting science has not investigated meeting design characteristics as levers to be pulled to enhance or detract from both meeting outcomes and organizationally desired outcomes. The findings, though are limited, due to potential common method bias, which was limited using methodological and statistical processes.
Managers and meeting attendees should consider how to maintain relatively small meeting size when possible so as to maximize both engagement and performance.
The current study is one of the few to look at meeting size directly as a moderator and helps demonstrate, once again, the importance of effectively designing meetings for success.
Meetings are an integral function in organizations where interaction between leaders and their employees and thus, leadership, happens. A small but growing area of…
Meetings are an integral function in organizations where interaction between leaders and their employees and thus, leadership, happens. A small but growing area of research within the larger workplace meetings domain has started to focus on the role of leaders in promoting effective and satisfying meetings. This chapter provides an overview of research to date on workplace meetings and leadership, and the authors identified seven studies that paired the two areas. The number of publications focusing on meetings and leadership is increasing, with the older papers largely dedicated to qualitative investigations of leader behaviors associated with successful meetings, whereas the more recent papers take a more theoretical and quantitative approach, yet are nonetheless largely isolated from one another. Next, the authors review five theories of leadership (full range of leadership, charismatic leadership, servant leadership, exploitative leadership, and followership), and relate each of the theories to workplace meetings, with a key focus on how the theory may impact subordinates’ perceptions of meetings as well as the utility of meetings for team and organizational functioning. The authors propose seven areas throughout the chapter that future research could explore to extend knowledge about how leadership operates in meetings and how meetings are an important aspect to consider with respect to leadership theories. Primary theoretical contributions are the integration of existing work on leadership and meetings and theoretically based propositions for future research.
Employees at all organizational levels spend large portions of their work lives in meetings, many of which are not effective. Previous process-analytical research has…
Employees at all organizational levels spend large portions of their work lives in meetings, many of which are not effective. Previous process-analytical research has identified counterproductive communication patterns to help explain why many meetings go wrong. This study aims to illustrate the ways in which counterproductive – and productive – meeting behaviors are related to individual work engagement and emotional exhaustion.
The authors built a new research-based survey tool for measuring counterproductive meeting behaviors. An online sample of working adults (N = 440) was recruited to test the factor structure of this new survey and to examine the relationships between both good and bad meeting behaviors and employee attitudes beyond the meeting context.
Using structural equation modeling, this study found that counterproductive meeting behaviors were linked to decreased employee engagement and increased emotional exhaustion, whereas good meeting behaviors were linked to increased engagement and decreased emotional exhaustion. These relationships were mediated via individual meeting satisfaction and perceived meeting effectiveness.
The study findings provide a nuanced view of meeting outcomes by showing that the behaviors that people observe in their meetings connect not only to meeting satisfaction and effectiveness but also to important workplace attitudes (i.e. employee engagement and emotional exhaustion). In other words, managers and meeting leaders need to be mindful of behavior in meetings, seek ways to mitigate poor behavior and seek opportunities to reward and encourage citizenship behavior.
This study shows how good and bad meeting behaviors relate to employee perceptions of meeting effectiveness and individual job attitudes. The authors develop a science-based, practitioner-friendly new survey tool for observing counterproductive meeting behavior and offer a juxtaposition of good and bad meeting behaviors in a single model.
Maintaining and protecting employee well-being and health is of paramount importance for organizations in order to prevent financial losses due to illness, absenteeism…
Maintaining and protecting employee well-being and health is of paramount importance for organizations in order to prevent financial losses due to illness, absenteeism, and fluctuation. This chapter discusses the role of team meetings for employee well-being. As the contemporary workplace is shaped by team work, team meetings increasingly shape employees’ experiences at work. As such, team meetings may also have a major influence on employee well-being as they consume large amounts of time and thus strongly influence workers’ schedules. While previous research has predominantly focused on negative aspects of meetings and mainly considered them as a workplace stressor, this chapter advances a positive perspective on meetings as opportunities for boosting rather than impairing employee well-being. Upon reviewing the extant evidence about linkages between workplace meetings and well-being, the authors highlight the role of team dynamics during meetings for individual well-being and suggest new perspectives for future research. The authors also discuss actionable implications for structuring and facilitating meetings in order to avoid negative and increase positive effects of team meeting interactions on employee well-being.
Meetings are ubiquitous at work. Therefore, understanding what makes meetings effective (or not) is important. Entitativity (i.e., the “group-ness” of a meeting) may…
Meetings are ubiquitous at work. Therefore, understanding what makes meetings effective (or not) is important. Entitativity (i.e., the “group-ness” of a meeting) may theoretically explain when some meetings are effective. That is, when meeting participants perceive a high enough level of group-ness in their meeting, then they begin to enact the processes to create a successful meeting and experience the outcomes of a successful meeting. The authors propose a model connecting the characteristics of successful face-to-face (FtF) meetings to entitativity and extrapolate this model to online meetings. Specifically, the authors interpret well-researched characteristics and practices of meetings (e.g., using an agenda and meeting punctuality) to be examples of well-established entitativity antecedents (e.g., creating similarity of goals and establishing meeting boundaries). That is, using an agenda creates effective meetings because it focuses members’ attention on common goals. Therefore, entitativity may be an explanatory mechanism for successful meetings. The authors examine the unique challenges of online meetings, which are growing in number. The authors note that entitativity may be harder to establish in online meetings making successful online meetings more difficult. Characteristics of online meetings (e.g., focusing on the few shared documents which may focus members on goals) that may promote success. The authors propose further theoretical work as well as suggest strategies that can be used to increase entitativity in FtF and online meetings.
Meetings can serve the important role of facilitating communication and coordination for systems of teams known as “multiteam systems” (MTSs) that work interdependently to…
Meetings can serve the important role of facilitating communication and coordination for systems of teams known as “multiteam systems” (MTSs) that work interdependently to achieve grand societal challenges. Given that MTSs often appear in complex, ambiguous, urgent, and multifaceted task contexts, the MTSs require effective, and efficient but thorough, communication within and between teams in order to achieve shared goals. However, the extant literature regarding the science of meetings has left much to be explored in regard to the inter- and intrateam influences and impacts. This chapter considers the significance of meetings and their practical value in facilitating MTS processes and performance by leveraging what is known thus far regarding MTS structural attributes, their value, their challenges, and opportunities, integrating this foundation with the broader science of meetings. Building on this rationale, the authors move toward empirically and theoretically derived considerations for how meetings may best be designed, facilitated and utilized for MTS effectiveness, as guided by our current understanding of critical MTS attributes.