The perennial annoyance for anyone in the world of work is ‘the meeting,’ and particularly those pointless ones that drag on. Any good manager of their time knows that meetings tend to suck up time in two dangerous ways. We lose the linear time we invest, and we eventually have to get onto the work that flows into our inboxes by virtue of our absence.
Let’s forget about the reasons we shouldn’t attend meetings... there are two reasons why we should attend meetings:
1. ‘Tell me something I don’t know’ (i.e. which I need to know)
Briefings are essential, but do we really need to know? Sometimes information can be handy without being critical i.e. ‘need to know’; it then becomes a discretional decision (but then nothing we can grumble about if we choose to attend).
Those meetings where we really need to know the information, and we can’t help but go, need to be approached with vigour and enthusiasm to get the most from them, as well as to maximise the contribution of our participation. It’s no good being a sour-puss when we have a role to play.
2. ‘Do you really need me?’
Sometimes the flow of information comes from the opposite direction. People need information from us, be it because we’re content or topic experts or simply for consultation purposes. We can’t get out of these meetings because others need us. We should therefore approach them, again, with genuine vigour and enthusiasm.
One last thing...
Actions tentatively posed and left to set in that gooey way should be pounced on. There’s nothing worse in the business world than half-committed-to actions that are flimsily worded and impossible to enact and therefore close out.
In this, we must extract the meaning of the action at the time of its proposal, not leaving it to the days and weeks ensuing when all the meaning’s lost. There’s almost nothing more of a letdown, business-speaking, than chasing the wind in this way.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.