Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Communication Strategy, Meetings
So this is the final week of this blog for this year.
Yes, I know it’s only the 7th of December, but frankly I am over it so god knows how you lot must feel.
Sadly that doesn’t mean the end of this blog, just the end of it for this year, because it will be back in Jan 2016. Oh yes.
[Cue: Evil laugh]
Anyway, as I’ll be writing a big Oscar-speech post on Friday [so make sure you’re washing your hair that day] I thought I’d make today relatively easy for you to take.
Let’s talk about meetings …
Contrary to the cartoon, not all meetings are a waste of time.
At their best, they are where people in various teams come together … explain what they’re doing … explain what they need from others … discuss what they have to do and when they will deliver it and then they go away and get on with it.
They are short, efficient, informative and valuable.
But sadly – as the cartoon captures – those sort of meetings have become the exception.
Many meetings today are a cross between a social gathering and a focus group.
Used more to ‘gauge opinion’ than to make decision.
They are energy and morale sapping … and yet we continue to feed their inefficiency for reasons I cannot fathom.
Well, actually I can fathom the reasons, but they’re not good ones.
Fear of making a decision. The illusion of communication. A false sense of collaboration.
Not great are they?
The amount of meetings I’ve been in, where people whose role had no direct value to the discussion is astounding.
But people now get invited for ‘political reasons’.
Everyone is encouraged to have a say.
There are “no wrong answers”.
But there are. There are a lot of wrong answers.
It’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the person who invited them.
If you’re going to ask someone to attend a meeting with little – or no – relevance to the discussion, they’re not going to say things that have value to the task in hand.
But they will say something simply because they feel they have to justify being there.
Which leads to long meetings that go off in lots of different directions with no clear, tangible outcome.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for bringing in fresh perspectives to a meeting – and I’m all for bringing in people who are relatively new to the industry or office, so they have a chance to listen, learn and convey their viewpoint – but a meeting for me is something that should aid efficiency, not be an obstacle to it.
It’s a bit like brainstorms.
A lot of them are terrible, but in the right hands, they can be liberating.
And similar to brainstorms, the difference between good and bad is down to the organiser.
If they don’t know why they’re having the meeting so they don’t know who should – or shouldn’t – be invited, it’s a disaster.
In my experience, the best way to ensure people attend your meeting is to have a short meeting.
+ Know what the meeting is for.
+ Ensure the right people are in the room.
+ Give the meeting a maximum duration of 20 minutes.
+ Manage the debate to make sure the discussion stays on track.
If you do that, people will come … not just because they know if they miss it, they miss out … but we now live in a World where nothing makes someone want to attend a meeting like knowing they won’t have to attend it for long.
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