Here’s a question for recruiters and HR professionals. Have you ever asked a candidate for a management position if he or she was any good at holding meetings? Have you ever asked for meeting skills qualifications? Probably not.
There is extensive evidence that more than 50% of all meetings are a partial or complete waste of time and as a result of this, meetings are draining the life out of individuals, teams and organizations. At the same time it is exactly in those meetings that important tactical and strategic decisions are made that determine the future of the organization. Moreover, meetings are the place where people engage, build trust, and collaborate. This process is way too important to take for granted.
The assumption seems to be that if a manager has general management skills that this automatically means that the manager is also good at leading meetings. I would like to dispel that myth.
I already wrote a blog about the knowledge illusion that most people believe they know more than they actually do and that this holds especially true for meeting skills. Now I came across meeting scientist Steven Rogelberg who says something very similar in his recent book The Surprising Science of Meetings. At the beginning of Chapter 3 titled “The Image In The Mirror Is Likely Wrong” he states:
“There is compelling evidence suggesting we are poor judges of our own leadership skills when it comes to meetings. Namely, we have an inflated view of our skills. This inflated perception, in turn, results in a sizeable blind spot that likely prevents us from developing, improving, honing, and maximising our ability to lead meetings.”
This sizeable blindspot also prevents recruiters and HR professionals from asking questions about meeting skills. What doesn’t help is that nobody ever learns meeting skills at school, not in college and most people have never followed a training course about the principles of effective meetings. That’s why I’m not surprised that nobody ever asks about meeting skills in job interviews. Meeting skills are highly underrated.
Changing this, means that recruiters should start asking simple questions: “Are you any good at holding meetings?” A nice follow-up question could be: “Name three principles of effective meetings?” If it keeps silent, you might want to look again at that list of available candidates. And of course, everybody else, get some proper training in meeting skills. And for those that are already (truly;-)) skilled in holding effective meetings I would like to say, be proud of those skills. Put them on your CV. After all, if you’re really good at holding engaging meetings, you can really make a difference in your organization.
Want to improve your meeting skills? Wondering about those principles of effective meetings? Do you want to ask the right questions?