Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meetings Meetings: Not a Waste of Time


It's been great returning to work and finally getting into the groove.  However, one thing I didn’t miss during my leave were the amount of meetings!  They take so much time out of your day. 

While I was sitting in one, I was contemplating the tasks piling up, I realized I should count my blessings.  I once had a manager that held the most ineffective meetings.  Many ran over, some booked late or during the lunch over  There was one interview he had that ran over 3 hours.  (I feel sorry for that poor soul).  He wasn’t in control and wasted allot of time that caused us to work off hours to catch up.

I was so tired of not having a life, it got to the point that I would leave when the the meeting was supposed  to end or leave if he was more then 10 minutes late.  Remember, this is my manager who had a say in my performance to my boss.  I figured if I was ever called in, I can show him my results and compare it with my outlook calendar over the same period of time. If I got let go, then it would be an opportunity to find something better.

This person is gone now, which was best.  However, there is a positive side, it was because of him I make these considerations when I need to host a meeting myself.  I don’t want to become that guy. 

  1. Avoid scheduling at bad times. 
    • convening a meeting that is outside normal working hours should only be done for emergencies.  Hosting a meeting in the evening and expecting everyone to give up their downtime won't go well.
    • No one likes to have a “must attend” meeting at scheduled last minute before lunchtime.   No one will make a good decision when they are STARVING.
  2. Take control so meetings don’t run over the allotted time
    • If you underestimate the time you need, schedule up a follow-up or at least ask participates if it’s okay to run over when the end time comes.  The clock’s is supposed to keep you on track, not a rough guideline
  3. Use an Agenda
    • One of the key importance of any meeting is that there must be a purpose and desired outcome at the end of every meeting.  Having that purpose documented helps everyone to keep focused on the ultimate goal and keep the meeting within the allotted time.
  4. Consider the costs of doing nothing
    • I like to think of myself as a consultant and what would I charge for my time.  I’m not basing this on my actual salary, I’m basing on what value I that I can offer.  If 10 people are in a room for one hour, each paid $100 / hour.  That meeting cost your company $1000.  What value is the company is getting? 
    • How many of us were in meetings where topics keeps going around in a circle with no decision to be made.  If a decision isn’t made or there is no progress, then the company just wasted $1000. 
    • If you find a meeting not valuable to you or only part of the agenda valuable, don’t be afraid to talk to the host to opt out, provide updates for the host to present on your behalf or only attend that part.  You can spend all or part of that hour working on tasks which is a better value of your time.

Anyhow, that’s it for now.  For the record, I’m writing this on my lunch hour because I do have a meeting right after lunch  :) 

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