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I once coached a client to help her with her time management. In the course of our training we analyzed her calendar and realized that meetings were sucking dry nearly all of her available time. She was so busy in multiple meetings every day that she had almost no time available to perform any real work. While I would hope that this situation is unusual, it's becoming more and more common for people in business today. When someone feels that they need to discuss something, their first thought is often, "Let's hold a meeting.
Let's get everyone together." I would propose a different approach. When you feel the need to invite other people to participate with you in a meeting, first ask the question, can we take care of this without having a meeting? Or even better, how can we take care of this without having a meeting? I'm going to give you a few questions you can ask that may help you discover whether or not the meeting is necessary. The first question to ask is, do we have all the information that we need for a meeting? Take a moment to consider whether or not everything you need will be there.
If not, schedule a reminder for yourself to revisit the idea of having a meeting once the necessary information is available. The second question to ask is, do we need to discuss and collaborate or are we just going to delegate and calendar? What we're trying to avoid is a situation where 10 people are sitting in the room while a leader delegates tasks one by one to each of the people in the room. These items can usually be handled through one-to-one conversations or even through email.
The third question is, is it critical that we're all on the same page? If the answer is no then this may be better handled with one leader holding many individual conversations. This allows everyone else to continue working effectively and not have to wait during the meeting. And the fourth and final question is, is this meeting one of our most valuable activities? Most valuable activities are the activities that you perform that bring the greatest impact to the bottom line of the business.
If a handful of people could handle the issues of the meeting while others are out working on activities that bring the most value to the company then find a way to excuse them. They could always be caught up on the meeting through summary notes or an email later. There is no hard-and-fast rule about when you should or should not meet. However, by asking these four questions you'll avoid many of the unnecessary meetings that take place.
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