I want to openly discuss the concept of meetings; when we need them and when we don’t need them. And let me start with a full disclosure of my personal opinion: I believe 90% of the meetings we have can and should be eliminated.
Many times in the business world, our first instinct is to set up a meeting. This is a bad habit that needs to be broken. We need to remember that with very few exceptions, work is not completed in meetings… It is completed outside of meetings. In fact, accomplishing work is often delayed BECAUSE of meetings.
As managers it is particularly important to monitor how much time we are spending in meetings, and our teams are spending in meetings. Here are four alternatives that should almost always have a higher priority compared to meetings:
Emails – We live in a day and age where we have emails, instant messenger, texting, and more. We can communicate information quickly and concisely and still allow for feedback from the group.
One-on-one discussions – How much of a meeting does each member of your team participate in? People should never be sitting around listening to agenda items that don’t pertain to them. Can you quickly email or stop by the one person you need to speak with and communicate the needed information? If so, don’t pull everyone in for a weekly meeting where they will waste an hour of their time for 5 minutes of information.
Group Tracking and Status Reports – Are you meeting to discuss the status of a project or assignment? Instead of meeting you can provide a tool for everyone to update their status and communicate through emails when deadlines are approaching or have past.
Maintain Published Data – Do you have reports that need to be reviewed with management? (First of all, I would argue they don’t need to be reviewed unless there is critical and actionable information that needs to be communicated, and this can be done with email) The alternative is to publish it on a SharePoint site, or something similar where it can be accessed at any time management has questions. There is no need for regular monthly reviews. This is a “we’ve always done it this way” scenario that needs to be questioned…
In summary, you should try to avoid meetings at ALL COST! You don’t need them! It’s like a baby blanket that provides comfort – but it’s usefulness has long past. Are there times for meetings? Yes…. Occasionally… But if you spend your day in back to back to back meetings. Something needs to change!
What are your thoughts on meetings?