How was your meeting?

One day I asked a colleague: "How was your meeting?" A shrug was followed by a single word: "Routine." We chatted a moment longer and then I headed home, but that word, "routine," really stuck in my mind. Meeting for meeting's sake is one of my ultimate pet peeves. If there's a hell, it's a long meeting with no agenda, time frame, or purpose. On the drive home I thought about when I call meetings. Here's what I came up:
  • A decision needed to be made, especially a decision that effected the entire team and their workload. I heard this first on the Manager Tools podcast, which is absolutely first rate and should be MANDATORY LISTENING for managers at all levels. The Manager Tools blog is totally sweet also.
  • Complex projects. Sometimes all the detail in an email can't stand up to a good ol' conversation with colleagues armed with paper, pencils, dry erase boards, drawings and ideas. My team always has good, productive discussions that enable us to go into a big project with the right approach.
  • Collaboration with other departments. Though I supplement all of my meetings with other departments with heavy notes and agendas, sometimes this is another case in which verbal communication is better than digital communication. However, I'm really trying to follow up after meetings at least by writing the minutes in my work journal - but GEEZ that's a whole ton of work! In the end it's worth it, but still.
  • One-on-one meetings. This is another awesome tip from the Manager Tools folks. It's great to sit down and just hear what the employees need to talk about. I haven't done that in a while, but look forward to scheduling some of those throughout summer.
Don't let your meetings be routine. Make them count. Make them important. Make them something we CAN'T do without. Make them so that people are excited or intrigued by what's happening at them.

And if we can do without a meeting, than by all means cancel it!

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