Why Your Group Meetings Suck

Are you experiencing death by Group Meetings?

Adem Turgut
5 min readFeb 13, 2023
The Friday Afternoon Group Meeting

To free up more time for their staff, Shopify is attempting to remove 10,000 events from their calendars. The company stopped holding regular meetings with more than three people. Important meetings must take place in a single six-hour block on Thursdays. They have also instituted “meeting-free” Wednesdays.

Results from previous studies back up Shopify’s strategy. Meetings take up a large portion of the workweek for most employees. U.S. workers spend roughly 2.5 million hours per week in meetings. Thirty percent of the typical workweek is spent in meetings. There is approximately $37 billion wasted annually on ineffective meetings (71 percent of all meetings). **

In this article, I want to concentrate on group meetings. It’s no secret that senior staff frequently misuse group meetings. These meetings don’t encourage teamwork but turn into a competition to see who can be the loudest. Also, these meetings compel people to make choices based on conformity, stifling innovation.

Companies, however, should not right off group meetings. Instead, they should strive to improve them. They must place higher expectations on their group meetings to reach their full potential.

Bad Communicators Love Group Meetings

Good communication is hard. It takes effort and discipline. You need to:

  • Pay attention and fully understand what others are saying.
  • Be clear and concise in your language so that it is easy to understand and free of ambiguity to ensure your message is effectively conveyed.
  • Demonstrate empathy and consideration for the perspectives and experiences of others.
  • Adapt and adjust your communication style to suit different situations and audiences.
  • Pay attention to body language, eye contact, and other nonverbal cues.
  • Deal with conflict and disagreements productively and respectfully.

These are skills that people develop and improve over a lifetime. But having the skills is not enough. You then need to apply them throughout your communication. This is where the real work begins. The challenge is that these traits require patience and discipline. This can conflict with the reactive (and often emotional) nature of communication.

A Sales Manager, for example, discovers that a competitor outperforms his team. This irritates him, and he wishes for his team to improve. This makes sense. Good communication would require the sales manager to gather their thoughts and plan what they will say to their team. Also, a good communicator may take the time to consider the problem from his team’s perspective. He might even bring up the subject more casually, such as with light questions over lunch.

That, however, requires effort. Instead, the manager schedules a group meeting for his team. Instead of taking the time to communicate properly, he proceeds to unload a free-flowing stream of consciousness. The meeting then devolves into a shouting match dominated by the team’s loudest members.

Good communicators prioritize others, which takes planning, thought, and effort. Bad communicators prioritize themselves and take the easiest route to get what they want.

Bad communicators love group meetings because it is the easiest way (for them) to get what they want. Rather than putting in the work to communicate well, they take the lazy option of throwing everyone together in a room.

The loudest voices dominate group meetings.

In a separate post, I discussed the benefits of an Idea Meritocracy. One key benefit is its ability to overcome the HIPPO effect. That is, where the most influential opinions come from the highest-paid people (often senior staff).

Group meetings suffer from the HIPPO effect. They also introduce the challenge that opinionated and aggressive people dominate the meeting. This introduces several key issues:

  1. There is a natural suppression of voices, particularly those more agreeable and passive. This can cause a lack of diversity in ideas and opinions.
  2. People can disengage. Rather than participating in the meeting, they retreat into their shell. This robs the conversation of their ideas and also wastes their time. A lose-lose.
  3. When the same people are constantly talking, it can create frustration and tension within the group, leading to increased conflict and division.
  4. Members who feel their voices are not heard may feel demotivated, decreasing morale and productivity.

The most serious implication is that it results in poor decision-making. Dominance by the loudest voices can result in decisions based on limited information and perspectives, leading to suboptimal outcomes.

Group meetings promote conformity over creativity.

Because of our natural fears, group meetings can become a hive of conformity.

People may be afraid of rejection. Most people don’t want to be an outsider or “different.” Presenting an idea exposes one to criticism and humiliation. This may prevent them from suggesting novel ideas and solutions.

This fear can lead to groupthink. The desire for consensus can prevent the critical evaluation of ideas. This leads to poor decision-making. Members ignore important information or opposing viewpoints to maintain unity. Any flaws or issues with their decisions are rationalized away. Meanwhile, dissenting views are automatically regarded as inferior.

Members of the group eventually stop expressing unique or unconventional ideas. This can lead to a lack of risk-taking and experimentation.

The Solution

The best way to solve the Group Meetings problem is to avoid them unless they are critical. Companies should demand more accountability when people organize group meetings. Group meetings have a very high cost. Aside from the abovementioned issues, these meetings impact your company’s bottom line.

To run a group meeting, you must be willing to put in the effort. That is to say:

  1. Establishing a clear purpose and goals and communicating this to all participants.
  2. Creating an agenda that includes the discussion topics, the expected outcomes, and timing.
  3. Making sure that all participants have the opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives.
  4. Promoting open dialogue by creating a safe and supportive environment for idea sharing.
  5. Following up on action items and documenting outcomes.

When done correctly, group meetings DO provide value. They allow individuals to collaborate to make the best decisions possible. However, organizing group meetings is a privilege, and we all need to get better at running them.



Adem Turgut

CEO of SolveXia (Enterprise Process Automation), Writer and Efficiency Enthusiast