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Think Twice Before Calling That Meeting

Mar 6, 2016 | Leadership

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Fast Company just released a video on their YouTube channel about the types of things you hear in meetings. It’s fun to see publications getting creative with different types of media like this, it’s only two minutes and it’s pretty funny, so I recommend checking it out when you finish reading here.

The point is that they have a video people want to share far and wide because people make careers out of poking fun at meetings. We all love to hate them and it’s a rallying cry when we say, “I’ve been stuck in meetings all day.” Everyone can empathize.

There also are many a wise man who have weighed in on bad meetings:

The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

“For me, true luxury can be caviar or a day with no meetings, no appointments and no schedule.” — Michael Kors

How Much Time Do You Spend in Meetings

According to a study by Atlassian, employees spend 31 hours every month in meetings. You can do the math, but it’s no wonder deadlines are missed and things don’t get accomplished as quickly as one would like.

Nowadays, with the huge volume of information we are exposed to every single day, there is an acute need to be more and more focused on the important things, to be productive and efficient. And most of the time, that means avoiding unnecessary meetings.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, changed how meetings are held at Facebook, by implementing two simple steps: Send relevant materials in advance to those who will be attending the meeting, and set a goal at the beginning of the meeting.

Steve Jobs was famous for keeping meetings as small as possible and every participant was responsible for a task once the meeting ended.

Is This Meeting Necessary?

Calling a meeting is easy, and so is inviting your team. You just send a bulk calendar invite and you’re done. But the question is: Should you?

Meetings  should be about decisions, not about discussing what you did last week or about project updates. You can use a daily scrum meeting (only 15—or less—and everyone stands up) for that purpose. Everything else should be weighed.

  • Is a meeting necessary to deliver this message or will email do just as well?
  • How much will this meeting cost in time if it’s 30 minutes? What if it’s an hour?
  • If the meeting is necessary, can we have it outside of the office; perhaps on a walk or as a retreat?

If, after asking these questions, you deem the meeting is necessary, invite only the people directly involved, give them relevant materials in advance, and start by clearly stating your goal.

There may be other urgent matters that arise during the discussion or, worse, tardiness or the inability to call in to a virtual meeting that will make it last longer than it should. Don’t let these things derail you. Stay on time, on agenda, and on task.

Once the meeting is finished, make sure everyone leaves with a clear to-do list and a timeline. Don’t forget to follow-up.

I know it’s easier to say what you need to by calling a meeting and having all of the team present. I certainly am guilty of having done that.

Many times leaders lose sight of what’s important, and that is getting the work done. If your team is in meetings all day, they won’t be able to do what they do best, their job. And you don’t want that.

Remember, being mindful about a non-meeting culture is entirely up to you. You set the trends in your organization. Be wise.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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