Meeting Happiness: Is it Possible?

We spend much of our lives in meetings. That is not bad in itself – we need to collaborate on important matters. Yet, if not run well, these meetings lower morale and reduce productivity. Our recent research of over 300 professionals on happiness and productive teams found that well run meetings are positively correlated to productive teams and happy employees. Here are 3 ways to create it.

3 Ways to Create Meeting Happiness: If you want to create meeting happiness, which creates happy and productive teams, here is what to do:

1. Name it – (HHAY, Queue, Innovation) – We have found that many meetings are ineffective because they cram many different types of meeting into one. They hopscotch from personal conversations, to project updates to ideas for improving the company and bounce back and forth among them. This creates confusion and makes the meetings lose focus and energy. Instead we have found that executives who separate these meetings into 3 types, and keep the content focused on that one type only, are more productive and happier.

HHAY Meetings These are short “hello how are you” meetings (7 minutes or less) with your boss, a peer, or direct report, you spend seven minutes or less on checking-in to see how each person/employee is doing. Once or twice a week, call, stop by, get a cup of coffee, take a breath of fresh air, and just say, “Hello, how are you?” Chat about whatever – personal topics, your project success or problems just to stay connected. This keeps you personally connected and updated with your colleagues, and leads to people feeling happy that they are listened to and cared about.

Queue Meetings – These are meetings to discuss what is in the queue – a specific project or list of projects, focused on key decisions that need to be made. Most teams have these meetings, but they are bogged down by HHAY topics and long discussions about how ‘things in the company should be changed’ to make our jobs easier. As a manager recently told me “That is so true. Having HHAY meetings keeps queue meetings on task, without all the interruptions from ‘catching up’.” Then, by adding Innovation meetings, you can stay focused on managing your key activities and projects.

Innovation Meetings – This is time set aside to improve: improvements in strategy, in teamwork and communication; and/or new product development. One Fortune 500 executive we coached was frustrated because his team wasn’t moving forward with new ideas that the executive leadership team desired. We discovered he was trying to innovate during queue meetings. So they instituted monthly 3-4 hour innovation meetings. Within 4 months they introduced several innovations and stopped lower priority reporting, making his boss and the executive leadership team very happy.

Meeting happiness results when each meeting is effective, efficient and uplifting There are 9 words that will end the meeting malaise of mixing up meetings. When a topic for another type of meeting comes up, simply say “That is a good topic for our ____ meeting.” This leadership, done by anyone in the meeting, is what will ultimately create meeting happiness.

2. Start on a Positive Note Successful people like to keep score. They like to experience progress and know what’s left to do to succeed. You can leverage this during meetings to bring out the best of your team, and make meetings a positive fun time that is looked forward to rather than a dreaded time.

Start each meeting reviewing what is going well. What has been achieved. The simplest and most powerful way to do this is with your on-going action item list. As you get things done week to week/month to month, don’t simply check it off. Take time to celebrate the successes. Short moments of congratulation and positive reflection feel good, are fun, and make the hard work feel worthwhile. Plus celebration boosts team spirit.

The happiness research shows this to be a fact. Teams with higher profits have a positivity ratio of 3:1. This means that those teams have 3 times more positive interactions than negative. In fact, the most productive teams have a 6:1 ratio. Taking time to acknowledge success significantly adds to your positivity ratio.

And starting on the positive will boost positive feelings which will help create a positive and productive mood for the meeting.

Watch our 60 second video to SPARK Celebration on Your Team:

Our experience matches the research. Every executive team session we do for our clients includes time to recognize what is going well. And every time, the team gets visibly energized and makes the leader realize that he needs to take time more often to accentuate the positive.

3. Check in before you check out – High performing teams take time to learn and improve. By using the last 3-5 minutes of the meeting for a quick “how did the meeting go?”, you will be in the habit of keeping focused on meeting happiness. The more you create meeting happiness the less your team will dread meetings.

Use our Meeting Happiness Checklist (see end of article for how to get it) to help your team discuss the most important topics and to turn dread into happiness

We led a workshop for the Executive in charge of global sales and marketing of a multi billion dollar industrial conglomerate. Towards the end of our time together he said “how come our meetings at work aren’t this fun?” We then helped him and his team create list of the 9 things they needed to do to make meetings more fun. They implemented these 9 ideas, which greatly improved their meetings. Those 9 became the basis for the above outlined ideas.

Meeting happiness is not about stopping all meetings. Or making them shorter. It is about smarter use of your team’s time. By implementing these ideas, you too can achieve meeting happiness which will result in greater productivity and better team spirit.


To receive a copy of the Meeting Happiness Checklist, simply send us an email to [email protected] with Meeting Happiness in the subject line.

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