- I once coached a client to help her with her time management. During the course of our training we analyzed her calendar and realized that meetings were sucking her calendar dry of almost every available minute. 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. I blame this on an overdependence on meetings.
When someone feels that they need to discuss something, their first thought is often let's get everyone together and hold a meeting. 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: 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? Without having everything you need on hand, holding a meeting is premature. If you're lacking key information, schedule a reminder to revisit your meeting idea 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? Try to avoid situations where many people are sitting in the room while a leader delegates task one by one to each attendee.
These items can usually be handled through one on 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 again, this may be better handled with one leader holding many individual conversations. This allows everyone else to continue working effectively without having to wait during the meeting. The fourth and final question is: Would this meeting directly serve each attendee's 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 different activities that bring the most value to the company, find a way to excuse them. They could always catch up on the meeting through summary notes or an email at a later time. There's 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 and help people stay focused on doing their most valuable work.
- Plan how to use technology successfully in your meetings.
- Determine how to select and support a meeting leader.
- Prepare what you need to make meaningful commitments in a meeting.
- Identify successful ways to initiate a meeting.
- Propose challenging ideas while promoting and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Delegate and coordinate work successfully.
- Follow up consistently to create a workplace culture of accountability.