Meetings are one of the most controversial topics in the workplace. Some people hate them, while others believe they are necessary for successful teams to work together.
There are some advantages:
- Opportunity to problem solve together
- Ability to make everyone feel included
- Time to get everyone aligned about a topic
- Some people find them relaxing compared to doing independent work (I’d say that’s actually a disadvantage)
There are also clear disadvantages:
- Meetings take a lot of time away from being productive
- People are invited to meetings when they aren’t needed there
- The loudest people in the room can dominate the conversation
- Unless takeaways are written down after, decisions made in the meeting aren’t recorded
In my view, the biggest problem with meetings is having them when they aren’t necessary.
There are typically 2 types of meetings:
- Update meetings: everyone just gives status updates on what they are working on
- Decision meetings: everyone has a discussion and comes to conclusions by collaborating together
Update meetings are the reason why people broadly hate meetings. They are never necessary, and result in everyone feeling bored and unproductive. There’s a few reasons for this:
1. Updates are better in writing
When status updates are shared in a meeting, they can easily get lost in the shuffle when everyone isn’t paying attention, or simply doesn’t retain every detail that was said. Instead, status updates should be shared in writing each week, and the meeting should be focused on discussion the most important issues that were raised in the updates.
2. Everyone wants to talk more than listen
Update meetings are spent passively listening to other people talk. While being a good listener is a noble trait, many people would rather speak and engage. The result is a group of very bored, disengaged people zoning out.
3. Everyone would rather consume information on their own terms
My team submits a weekly status update every Friday, and we all read them between Friday and Monday. This lets each team member consume that information on their own terms, whenever they have downtime. An update meeting dictates that NOW is the time that everyone must absorb these details.