So your e-mail dings at you and you go look at what your net has caught, and there you see it: an invitation. It's nice to be invited: It means someone is thinking about you, doesn't it? But do you want to go to yet another meeting? Who is it this time, you wonder, and open it up. And there's nothing there, no purpose, no agenda, only a time and place and a list of your fellow sufferers: the hapless invitees. Or else there's only a trace of a comment, a scrap of justification for this person's casually ripping an hour out of your life.
Here's my pay-back fantasy: first, reserve a large conference room. Then write an invitation to a large group of random people -- just an invitation with a time and a location, nothing else. Then send it.
The day of the meeting arrives. You stand at the door and watch everyone file in. When everyone is settled, announce that this is a training class on "How to Attend Meetings." It a very short training: don't go to meetings unless you know why you're there.
Yes, I know, the fault is with the meeting inviters, not the meeting attendees. Yes, I know that the person who calls the meeting should set an agenda make it clear to you how you will be contributing, maybe even describe the goal of the meeting. All these things are true. However, one way to improve our meeting culture from the ground up is for you, the meeting attendees, to insist on these marks of courtesy. And to vote with your feet (or the "decline" button) if you don't get them.
And this is what you are responsible for: your use of your limited time. Professionally minded people keep an eye on the value that they are producing for the Company. Whenever you attend a meeting without first thinking about why you should be going, you are risking the Company's money.
And how much money is at stake here? Say you're at a one-hour meeting. Take an hour of salary for each attendee, then double that to account for benefits, desks, light and heat. That's a lot already, but there's an even more important cost: The lost opportunity to be working on other tasks that contribute to the company's goals. You can't do other work when you are sitting in a meeting. It's this lost productivity that is the highest cost of casually accepting meeting invitations. And you know how frustrating that is for you personally, as well.
Part of our ongoing commitment to employees is to encourage them to take responsibility for identifying and removing barriers to their most important work. Too many meetings form a very common barrier, so stand firm! Protect your precious time!
- The Cult of the Amateur
- Web 2.0 Expo: Stowe Boyd on Building Social Applic...
- Wearing Cranky Pants
- Think Again
- The "Because" Factor
- The Honor of your Presence is Requested...
- SPL PDQ or Else!
- Lead with Your Chin
- Courage & Conflict
- Clobber-ate or How I Learned to Share
- Biting the Bullet
- Battle-Hardened Veterans
- ▼ July (12)