Walk into a meeting in any major corporation and you get an instant snapshot of the culture. Some companies take their role as hosts quite seriously, offering individually made cups of coffee or tea from a Keurig machine, bottled water and gracious introductions. Others may spend the time during visitors’ presentations checking their Blackberries, texting under the table or even nodding off.
In internal meetings, some companies may operate with the need for speed while others languish at the conference table, deciding only that decisions on item after item be postponed until later discussions off line. Often, internal meetings feel so unproductive, or uninteresting, that employees have to divert their attention to other things, just to stay awake.
I once saw a post on Facebook from one of Tribe’s clients, a lone female manager in a sea of white middle-aged males. She posted: “I’m sitting in a room full of guys all wearing cashmere V-neck sweaters.” Two seconds later, another of our clients sitting in the same meeting posted, “Hey! I’m one of those guys wearing a V-neck sweater!”
What do your meetings say about your internal culture? Is your company meeting style more Wall Street Journal, USA Today or Fast Company? Take this quick quiz to see:
1. When do meetings at your company generally begin?
A) Punctually at the appointed time
B) We start pretty much on time, but there may be a few late arrivals
C) We never start on time
2. During meetings at our company:
A) We move through a prepared agenda
B) We don’t really need an agenda because we know what the meetings about
C) A meeting called for one reason might morph into other discussions
3. At our company, meetings are generally led:
A) By the most senior person in the room
B) By the person who called the meeting
C) We all sort of do it as a team discussion
4. For big meetings with people from other companies, we generally wear:
A) Business suits
B) Business casual
C) T-shirts and flip flops
5. The first few minutes of our meetings are generally spent:
A) We get right down to business and start with the first item on the agenda
B) Thanking everyone for being there and making any necessary introductions
C) Some miscellaneous chit chat and joking around
6. We hold our meetings:
A) In a conference room we reserve ahead of time
B) Maybe in someone’s office or else in whatever room is big enough and empty
C) Standing up, to keep them from going too long
7. The most offensive thing I can imagine someone doing in one of our meetings is:
B) Telling an off-color joke
Wall Street Journal – If you answered mostly A’s, your company has more of a Wall Street Journal style. Your culture is all business, prizes efficiency, respects hierarchy and operates according to established protocol. Your employees probably don’t share a lot of warm and fuzzy personal details.
USA Today – If you answered mostly B’s, your company has more of a USA Today style. Your culture is productive but also fairly relaxed, prizes practicality, values both business results and the people who create those results. Your employees probably work hard, but at a comfortable pace.
Fast Company – If you answered mostly Cs, your company has more of a Fast Company style. Your culture is casual, and values creativity and innovation more than processes and systems. The pace at your company may at times feel ridiculously fast. Your employees probably feel quite free to express their own individuality at work.