One night I was a preparing to go out with my best friend and my son asks where I was going. I said, “I’m going to meet Uncle Mike.” He then replied, “You’re not meeting him, you already know him!” As I walked out the door all I could say was, “You’re right. That was a good one buddy.”
Why do we “meet” so much at work? I already know all of you. I already know what you’re going to say (or not). I already know what you’re going to suggest and who didn’t complete whatever task last week. I already know who’s going to doze off while we’re sitting here. There is nothing new going on and nothing that you couldn’t have told me in the hall.
I’ve seen a lot of articles and blogs recently about the lack of productivity in the workplace and all of the things that contribute…from outside distractions to low pay to unclear expectations to internet usage. One thing that people fail to mention is how much time we actually waste “meeting” about what should be done instead of actually taking the time to do the work. For every hour that we are meeting, we could have solved dozens of issues. How many times have you had a good groove going on a project, only to get that little reminder and bell in the corner of your computer screen telling you to halt production and come listen to stuff that probably doesn’t pertain to you? Yeah, too many times.
People seem to find comfort in sitting around board room tables discussing what could be. Many feel that if their Outlook calendars aren’t packed with scheduled appointments that they aren’t truly working or that they’re not important. Effective leadership includes finding effective ways to communicate while maximizing employee’s time and effort. It’s not by standing in front of a dry erase board asking if anyone has anything. You don’t want your message getting lost somewhere between redundant committee reports and teases about info that everyone is not privy to. Employees will respect leadership more when they see that things are only being scheduled when something actually needs to be said as opposed to just having this recurring item on their calendars every other day, four times a day.
Now don’t get me wrong, some meetings are necessary. Timely, focused, well planned and informative meetings help us to give/get direction and to set objectives. They get us all on the same page and ideas can be shared (or shot down) among peers and leadership. But meeting just for the sake of meeting takes away from employee engagement. That enthusiasm Billy had when he came through the door shouldn’t be turned into disdain and boredom just so your “To Do” can be checked off. Let your employees channel that excitement they walked in with to crank out some frickin’ results!
So shoot me an email, pick up the phone, you can even tweet me (140 characters or less are plenty!) if you need me or want to tell me something, but let’s keep that two-hour slot open for work, not for talk about work. I have stuff to do.
Recommended reading, Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson