Managers Identify their Biggest Pet Peeves about Meetings: Accountemps Survey

Jul 19, 2011 | Corporate Member News

So it’s agreed, if we have ideas, we will put them on the second pad.

Planning a meeting? Better start on time — and have a good reason for scheduling it. Nearly three in ten (28 per cent) managers interviewed for an Accountemps survey said beginning or ending late tops their list of meeting pet peeves. Getting the group together unnecessarily was the second most common complaint, cited by 22 per cent of respondents.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 300 Canadian senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.

Senior managers were asked, “Which one of the following is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to meetings?” Their responses: 

Not keeping to the schedule, e.g., starting or ending the meeting late 28%
Meetings that seem unnecessary 22%
Attendees using PDAs or laptops for non-meeting-related activities 20%
People interrupting each other 18%
Meetings scheduled during lunch 6%
Other/Don’t Know/No Answer/ 6%

“Meetings are an effective way to share news and discuss current issues – however, organisers are responsible for keeping meetings on track by following the agenda and being mindful of time constraints,” said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian president of Accountemps. “It’s essential to continually reassess the usefulness of all gatherings, especially long-standing meetings that are not due to a compelling need.”

Accountemps identifies five signs that your meeting could be a time waster — and offers suggestions for how to correct it:

1.  You’ve left nothing out. While you should have an agenda, it shouldn’t look like a follow-up to War and Peace. The onus is on the organiser to determine what must be covered and what can be left out.

2.  Everyone’s invited. Scan your list of attendees to determine who really needs to be included in the discussion. Often, people are invited as a courtesy rather than necessity. A lengthy participant list also may indicate you are trying to accomplish too much in a single meeting.

3.  It will run longer than an hour. It’s hard to keep an audience’s attention for an extended period of time. If you must schedule a meeting for more than an hour, try to get people to interact, offer them snacks or vary the speakers to help everyone stay engaged.

4.  There are too many visual elements. Visuals, such as PowerPoint presentations, can be effective for simplifying complex ideas, but they also can bog down the discussion. Instead, distribute the slides to attendees before you meet to give them a chance to review and prepare comments in advance.

5.  It’s routine. If you have regularly scheduled meetings, you may want to determine if they are still necessary. For instance, if it’s difficult to come up with enough agenda items for each gathering or the meetings are getting progressively shorter, you may need to adjust the frequency.

Accountemps’ parent company, Robert Half, recently launched Don’t Let This Happen to You (, a light-hearted video series depicting interviews that have gone awry, along with tips for avoiding common blunders.

Accountemps has more than 350 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at Follow Accountemps for workplace news at

For further information:

Nadia Santoli
(416) 350-2330
mailto:[email protected]

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