One way to get a sense for the importance of short lines of communications within an American team is to observe those lines. Team meetings: How often are they scheduled? How long do they last? Who takes part in them? What topics are addressed? How much detail do they go into?
Team or staff meetings play an important role in American teams. They help management and the team maintain an overview of their most important work. Information flow is supported. Current developments, problems, complexities can be addressed immediately. If well run, staff meetings can be motivating. Management remains „in touch“ with the team.
Frequent meetings are standard practice in the American business culture. According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of managers and white collar worker time is spent in meetings. Other data indicate there are 11 million business meetings every day or roughly 3 billion meetings per year. According to a Verizon study, „Busy professionals attend over 60 meetings each month. However, most say they cannot attend all meetings to which they are invited due to the tremendous demands on their time.“
The Verizon study found that “different meeting types were characterized by different patterns of meeting purposes. On average, in-person meetings are more likely to be sales-related, video conferences are more likely to be centered around updates and information-sharing, and audio conferences tend to consist of updates, brainstorming, and strategy development.”
According to a study done by the University of Tulsa and the University of Arizona, about 25 percent of American business meetings were between 31 and 61 minutes long. “The average time participants spend to prepare for, travel to, and attend an in-person meeting involving five people is 53 hours and 24 minutes. This is more than three times the time involved in an audio or video conference meeting.”
When meetings are required somebody must decide who should be invited and who should be excluded. One researcher found that “not having the ‘right’ people is one of the leading causes of unproductive meetings.” More than a third (34%) of 3M Study participants report only some (30%) relevant people attended meetings.
A common complaint from American businesspeople is that key decision makers are not present at meetings. Therefore, much time is wasted discussing topics that no one at the table has the authority to make decisions about.
However, another study encourages meeting planners to exclude senior-level leadership if at all possible. “Avoid and resist senior managers and directors attending your meetings unless you can be sure that their presence will be positive, and certainly not intimidating. Senior people are often quick to criticize and pressurize without knowing the facts, which can damage team relationships, morale, motivation and trust.”