Monday, April 6, 2009

Meetings suck

Hey, typically I like meetings. They provide a bit of a break in the day, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and see some faces from the other side of the office. But it's not worth it when you come out of the meeting with nothing. Lately I've heard a lot of yucky yuck about meetings - and it's true. Meetings are usually unproductive and seem to suck (to be time suckers that is). Are you with me? Are you the one doing this to me?

Why have a meeting blocked on your calendar (and blocked in your mind) if it is frequently canceled, changed or unproductive? Ashley Acker, a recent cyber-friend (can I call you that?), found meeting participants are frustrated - meetings are often devoid of content and structure, they leave participants without action items, and nothing gets accomplished. Ashley proposes to make meetings optional on her WorkStyleDesign blog. Yum yum, oh sweet ideal workplace.

We both agree this does not mean their are no more meetings. Just less sucky meetings. If a meeting invite lacks a result oriented role for you to play, then push back in a nice way. Ask for clarification or suggest proceeding in email before scheduling a meeting time.

Meetings happen. I won't go into the exhaustive list we've seen before about turning your phone off and preparing properly. But please:
  • Be there on time (and end on time).
  • Make sure there is an agenda - and stick to the agenda. In fact, the agenda needs a dealer like a poker game needs a dealer. If the meeting organizer isn't the dealer, maybe you can organize the meeting and keep folks focused, and make sure people are staying on point and following rules (giving appropriate information, noting take-aways).
Do you call meetings that are lame and unfocused? Are you late and cancel meetings? Stop that. You are more likely to admit you been hurt or disgruntled by meetings recently? Have you had it up to HERE? Tell me about it - it feels good to let it out.


  1. I have a little strategy that I employ when in a meeting that lacks any sense or purpose......I walk out. Draws a few funny looks the first time, but amazing how it sends waves through the organisation! Could be a a high risk strategy depending on the business

  2. Nice HRD! I have 'taken a phone call' before and excused myself from unproductive meetings. Your technique sends a different message though! One that might make people think about agenda, goals, and participants more. Thanks.

  3. I think sometimes you need to go farther, depending on the company culture: meeting organizers should be held accountable for the (lack of) productivity and effectiveness of the meetings they setup. This peformance is another metric that can be used to evalute the effectiveness of a given employee. The end result might be better meetings.