People around table not paying attention to meetingWe all love dysfunctional meetings because they are so fun to facilitate…. Right? WRONG! Most leaders I work with dread trying to manage dysfunction in meetings. Unfortunately, leaders often contribute to the dysfunction without even realizing it.

The following recommendations are sure to increase your dysfunction to epic levels:

  1. Don’t develop an agenda or meeting structure – just wing it.

Simply show up to the meeting with a cup of coffee and begin an open dialogue about the meeting topic… or anything for that matter. Be sure you don’t provide a meeting purpose or agenda and don’t think about your meeting process. No plans, no direction. Let the team just stumble along for an hour and see where you end up.

  1. Don’t plan for dysfunction – just hope it won’t happen.

Even if you anticipate dysfunction, don’t do anything. Ignore a brewing issue before the meeting and pretend you don’t know you scheduled your meeting on a huge deadline day. Say a prayer that the technology will work – even though you usually have issues with it. And, by all means, don’t establish ground rules – because ground rules are for sissies.

Link to download ebook Managing Dysfunction our free eBook: Managing Dysfunction – The Three-Pronged Approach

  1. Pretend you don’t notice unproductive behaviors.

When people dominate, shut down or start checking their emails, just ignore it. Hope it will stop. Never address it or try to understand why this is happening. In fact, the bigger and more disruptive the behavior, the more you should look the other way. Then, after the meeting, be sure to complain to a colleague about how rude those meeting participants were.

  1. Join in on the dysfunction. 

If you can’t beat them, join them. You have some pressing work to do too, so just check your own texts and emails. When you have something to say, force your way into the conversation. Be sure to take the group way off topic and tell them about a funny story that happened to you. As long as they laugh, they’ll think you are a good meeting leader.

Following these recommendations is sure to increase the dysfunction and reduce the productivity of your meetings. On the other hand, if you would you like to minimize dysfunction in your meetings, just do the opposite of the above recommendations. First, be sure you have thoughtfully planned your meeting, including how to address probable dysfunction. Second, address unproductive behaviors as soon as they come up. Third, model the behavior you desire. Finally, address any behaviors that are taking your meeting off course quickly.