A few weeks ago we published our manager’s guide to writing (it’s still one of our most popular posts). In it, we spoke about how one of the most effective ways you could use writing was to replace meetings and free up your team’s time. In particular, we spoke about the ‘update meeting’ where someone tries to get other people ‘up to speed’. Generally speaking, this should not be a meeting.
By his framing, there are only three reasons to have a meeting:
The decision requires brainstorming
The decision requires debate/negotiation
The ultimate decision is blocked by a number of nested decisions and it’s more efficient to pull everyone together for a few minutes
In every other case, chances are, it could have been an email and saved everyone a lot of time and distraction.
He identifies six reasons why other meetings find their way into diaries:
The decision-maker is unclear: a meeting is called to establish who makes a call, even though this should be known already.
People want to read a reaction: the written word isn’t trusted enough on your team, so a meeting is held to read reactions in the room to a particular decision/piece of news/event.
People want to feel important: fairly self-explanatory.
People want social connection: understandable in current times, but the solution is improved remote social activities, not trying to combine work and social in a horrible hybrid.
Habit: they’ve been in the diary forever, so they just happen.
It’s easier than writing: for those getting used to writing more, in the short term, it’s easier to call a meeting.
If you’re trying to transition your team away from too many meetings, these are useful points. They show the importance of leading by example as a manager in the meetings you call and what you put in writing to model behaviour and change habits. If you want to make a change on your team, you’ll need to start with yourself.
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