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Why I Like Meetings

February 16, 2011
I’m going to take a decidedly unpopular stand.
I LIKE meetings.
There are countless articles, posts and even studies that chastise the American manager or worker who inflicts the torture of meetings on his/her team members. It’s certainly much more popular to bash meetings than to point out the benefits. And let’s face it – the jokes are pretty easy to come by – Buzz Word bingo, placing bets on how far along into the meeting Walter from IT will drift off, snickering at the frequency with which Carol from HR mispronounces “strategery.”
But meetings, those workplace institutions, CAN be of benefit. Whether strategic (occurring periodically such as monthly or quarterly), or tactical (the weekly or daily staff meeting), meetings offer much more than stale donuts and bitter coffee.  A meeting, called for and run with a purpose, can provide an opportunity for engagement and collaboration.  So what are some of these benefits?
  • Regular meetings can build a sense of community and a shared purpose among team members.
  • Meetings can provide an opportunity to generate ideas about how to deal with problems or even optimize the handling of routine, everyday situations.
  • Gathering together can allow for sharing of news, upcoming events and ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal or vision.
  • Meetings can allow for brief snippets of refresher training or clarification of operational items.
  • Opportunities can be available for individual contributors to participate in decision making, or, at the very least, provide input on items that are generally outside of their span of control.
  • Meetings can allow the team leader to continuously gage the dynamics of the team, the work groups and even the level of committment of individual team members.
So where do you fall on this spectrum and how does your workplace handle meetings?  Do you have meetings to schedule meetings?  Do you have daily or weekly staff meetings?  Are they a boon to productivity or a colossal waste of time?
I would answer myself.  But I’m off to a meeting.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 6:51 am

    Good blog. Agree with you. Meetings get a kicking, but that’s because, like PPT, they’ve been misused and abused for so long people are beginning to question the point: for some the point of a meeting has come to mean an excuse to not work, like a PPT has become an excuse to look important but change zip. One of the key benefits for me in a meeting is that often the best ideas come from personal contact. You talk about the meeting stuff (the meat, if you will), then get sidetracked into something else, and then pow, you get a whole new idea to work on or approach to take to a problem. Wouldn’t happen in an email exchange, or even a phone call where the space to open the conversation out is not there.

  2. Christy permalink
    February 16, 2011 6:54 am

    I’m with you on this one, Robin. I’ve just spent a year where there were no weekly, let alone daily, management staff update meetings and it really led to the team feeling disconnected from the site leader. My perfect meeting schedule (for the management team) would be quick daily updates with an additional weekly meeting to go over project status, etc. For employees, a once a month all hands on deck meeting is a must. Companies fail when there is no communication. Enjoy your meeting! : )

  3. February 16, 2011 7:19 am

    I’m not opposed to well conducted meetings for the reasons you stated Robin. But I’m not a fan of meetings just to have one because it’s “scheduled”. I can remember times I have braved the bitter cold winter weather to attend a meeting that was nothing but a waste of time. I am very selective of the meetings I agree to go to and if I don’t think one is particularly necessary or will be productive I will ask for the dial in number. I don’t always need to be in the same room with everyone during a meeting either. Some meetings are perfectly acceptable conducted remotely, enabled by technology.

  4. February 16, 2011 7:40 am

    I’m with you. The key is “called for and run with a purpose.”

  5. February 16, 2011 7:49 am

    Agreed! Effective meetings are critical for establishing expectations, checking progress towards objectives and problem solving. Let’s meet soon to discuss more benefits.

  6. John Jorgensen permalink
    February 16, 2011 1:12 pm

    I agree that a well run meeting with a purpose can be all those things you listed. But a badly run meeting is worse than no meeting at all. All managers who have to conduct meetings should be given training in the art of running meetings and it should be part of their PA. Pipe dream I know.

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