Meetings are a waste of time. Think about it—-how many are actually productive? I’ve been invited to meetings that have turned into brainstorming sessions–without any prior notice. If you want people to brainstorm, tell them ahead of time so they can start the mental work.
I’ve gone to meetings that end up turning into heated arguments between two of the strongest personalities in the room. Like a ping-pong match, heads swivel back and forth as each argument is made and everyone sits there wishing they’d brought movie candy. The two sides of the argument are usually the same: Person A wanting things to change v. Person B wanting things to stay the same.
Meetings are a waste of time—especially if you fail to plan an agenda. If the planner of the meeting didn’t develop a skeletal view of how the conversation will flow, then you’re going to talk in circles. If you can cover the topic with a quick email, status report, or phone call—then handle it that way. Don’t allocate 60 minutes for something that can be handled in 2.
Meetings maintain tradition—I don’t respect tradition. There I said it. If you’re meeting at 10am every Tuesday because you have always met at 10am every Tuesday, then ask yourself: is this the best use of our time? You’re taking an entire team away from various office functions to sit at a meeting. If your topics can be addressed via email, then cancel the meeting and free the team members up to do their jobs. If a meeting is the only way to get the message across, then make it as short as possible.
Don’t plan a meeting if you don’t want to be challenged. Meetings disseminate information—and this element is essential to sharing and maintaining organizational knowledge. When you’re meeting about processes, be open to fresh ideas for ways to do things better. If you’re meeting with an employee so that you can train him in a process, don’t expect him to digest what you say. Be open to questions. I’m always asking: Why do we do it this way? Does it make sense to keep doing it this way? Is this the most efficient use of our time? Are all of these steps necessary, or can some be eliminated without compromising the end goal?
I have a tendency to decline meetings that I know will not be productive. There’s nothing worse than spending an entire day in meetings and then realize that nothing on your TO-DO list ever got done.