Meetings – First – Don’t Have Them

Second in a series on meetings:

No matter where you are in the food chain, meetings are critical to success as a manager. It is important to know how to initiate, lead, and participate in meetings. This series of Management Notes on meetings addresses some basic concepts and skills.

First things first – most meetings should not take place.

Any meeting that is about the status of, or problems with, a regular business process or activity is an indicator that you should solve the process problem. Good processes provide status indicators that can be seen by whomever needs to know, without a meeting. Recurrent problems should be eliminated, not treated as a moment for management to rush in to save the day. If you are in charge of, or have influence over a process that is producing meetings, then take those meetings as a directive for you to get to work on fixing the process.

Now is a good point to note that meetings don’t just take place in conference rooms. When a person in your department stops you in the hallway, or props themselves up outside your doorway, and says, “Can we talk about the Big Bonanza Project?”, you are about to have a meeting. When there is a flurry or emails and instant messages about a project, customer, or whatever, you are having a meeting.

Beware of meetings that you as a manger generate. Ask yourself whether your meetings fall into the categories noted above. Be disciplined about any meeting where the key outcome is to “keep you in the loop”.