Meetings are the bane of my life and probably the biggest time waster in the corporate world. I can quite easily count on one hand how many meetings I have been to which are worthwhile. Again I do not mean this in an arrogant way, not at all, I just find the whole concept of meetings unfulfilling and far away from my role.
We’ve all been there. Your day is running swimmingly, you’re getting through that work you wanted to finish by 5pm and then at 3pm a calendar reminder comes up. You’ve been asked to go to a two hour meeting as the meeting is vaguely related to your role and your manager thinks it’s a good idea to have a ‘face’ at the meeting. I am sure this has happened to everyone but as a Gen Y and speaking on behalf of all the Gen Y’s I know this really hits a nerve.
Working within large organisations you get invited to every sort of meeting. I could literally fill my day with meeting requests. Most meetings lack productivity, direction and relevance. Now that’s not a generalisation, that’s a fact. The solution to this problem exists everywhere and is never rectified. There’s a real simple solution:
: Have fewer, productive meetings.
As a Generation Y I don’t want to be sat in a meeting room listening to the same notions or running through the motions (that rhymed). I want to be creative, I want to inspire and I want to see results. Most meetings do not do this. They tend to monopolise the time of the work force, take up precious working time to name a few.
I am quite passionate about the meeting issue. Ever since I read the Four hour work week by Tim Ferris I agreed with his meeting stance. To further enforce this, here are a few more reasons why you should cut down on meetings to keep the workforce happy.
Meetings frustrate and disillusion rock star employees:
I’d like to think I am pretty good at my job. I’m a do’er and like to be a do’er. I’m creative and I want to express myself within my work, do a good job and make my boss better. I can not to any of this within a meeting room.
The frustration of meetings harms my productivity and it leads to questioning management as to why they feel inclusion in a meeting is more worthwhile than getting the actual work done. You run the risk of losing key employee’s by inviting them to meetings. It comes across as a waste of time and a waste of talent to be present. Gen Y’s want to inspire change. Sitting in a meeting room doesn’t do this.
There was a great example where I was invited to a meeting by someone senior. I spent three hours in the meeting and spoke two words. Now this was a ‘senior’ management request so I was informed I had to partake in the meeting. This is not the best way to run an organisation nor inspire your workers to work hard and produce results. This is also the reason why a lot of people work excessive hours, spending your time in a meeting room means you need to play catch up when you get out of the meeting. This of course is not easy when your productivity has been zapped by a meeting lacking any direction.
Trust gen y with decision making other than mini meetings:
Generation Y have an entrepreneurial streak and like to be trusted. My favourite manager entrusted me to run projects on my own from start to finish. We had a 1 hour catch up meeting once weekly. Yes once weekly. There were few emails and any emails were expected from me. For me this approach was exactly the right way to approach a business. By employing the right people, you know the job will be done and this enables you to let them have the ability to make decisions. By been empowered and agile you can make the decisions, taking the strain from the manager and taking the strain from a graded employee’s by reducing the meetings required.
If you are good at your job then you should thrive from having the responsibility. It also enables you to allocate your blocks of the day to appropriate tasks knowing when you have to prepare for your weekly meeting. It also allows you to have a clear defined agenda for your meeting.
Meetings are old school:
In my opinion large scale meetings are a thing of the past. They show signs of an older, aging organisation. Organisations need to become more agile, employee focused and remove areas which disappoint most employees especially the younger generation.
I have noticed so many meetings set up as weekly meetings which fall by the way side because there’s not an agenda weekly, people get bored or other commitments appear instead. Change the record, drive change and make a change to your organisation by reducing these types of archaic meetings. The employees of the future hate them.
Reduce excessive invites:
Workforces are valuable and time spent within a meeting is time away from more productive jobs, especially if the meeting is vaguely related to them. I once was invited to meeting which lasted 6 hours; we literally broke for lunch and went back into the meeting room. I work within one tiny aspect of the web marketing yet the meeting was about the whole ecommerce platform. I was essentially an innocent bystander.
Only invite those people with genuine contribution to the meeting. It’s counterproductive if not. Sure they may learn a little about the platform but that’s not their job role and it’s probably not on their development area. The more time spent in meetings the less money we are making. Simple.
Ask for a meeting agenda:
A personal favourite and one I took from the master Tim Ferriss. Asking for a clear meeting agenda before the meeting will enable you to make a decision whether the meeting is worthwhile before the event. Once you are within the meeting it’s impossible to leave. By having the defined agenda you will find it easier to knock back on any meetings which aren’t worth your while.
This for me is some of the best advice. Most meetings can be avoided by having the clear agenda.
Ask for a specific time slot:
If there doesn’t seem to be a way out of the meeting then ask the meeting organiser if you can have a clear time slot for your involvement. This will save your involvement in unnecessary parts of the meeting. This is a tactic I’ve used very well. I was invited to two hour meeting, upon asking the question it was reduced to 15 minutes. That’s 1hour 45minutes of pure bliss time back to use how I wish for completing my actual work. Go in there, smoke the meeting and then get out. Tried and tested strategy.
Schedule shorter meetings:
There’s some age old tradition (I blame Outlook) that meetings have to last an hour. Most of the time however a meeting doesn’t need to last an hour and people ultimately waste time killing time. Schedule shorter meetings and stick to them. Define the meeting strategy, the outputs and stick to it. Don’t stray, don’t waste time. Spend time wisely. Give some time back to those in the meeting and let them spend it on making the business better. That doesn’t tend to happen in a meeting room, usually on a lap top.
Id like to hear some further solutions for reducing meetings or maybe an argument as to why long, dreary meetings should be kept within the corporate system.
Working 9-5. There’s a song about it, over 22 million people do it in the UK yet...