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The Joy of Meetings

When you are really passionate about what you do, you have to work hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to meetings. From a management theory perspective, it is completely unproductive to attend every meeting scheduled, but when your work is your font of energy, it is difficult to say "no" to an opportunity to convey your enthusiasm, ideas, etc. to the group assembled. The bottom line is knowing your assets, and where and at which meetings your presence can be most useful.

But in this age of e-mail, I am a firm believer in the value of face-time with staff. As Harvard's Marty Linsky and Ron Heifetz have posited in their work on adaptive leadership, in-person meetings build the morale of an organization, which is especially important in these economic times when employees are often asked to perform the work of two or three people.

The key to meeting effectiveness is a good agenda. A well-agendaed meeting where all participants get to the point succinctly, and leave the room with tasks in hand (or in Blackberry, as it were) is productive, creates an essential esprit de corps, and hopefully precludes the need for several future follow-up meetings!

By Marie Wilson

 |  October 7, 2009; 6:03 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: No Telepresence Substitute | Next: 'Let's Meet as Little as We Can!'


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Wilson, you are psychotic. Detached from reality. The corporate and DC babblespeak (the buzzword du jour "Passion" is the first clue). The same morally bankrupt "Executives" enjoy meetings wherein they decide that they deserve 100 million dollar bonuses (the "Executive Compensation Committee) agreed, after shipping 18 million jobs overseas, hiring either illegal aliens or H1B holders, while bankrupting the Middle Class.

Bring your Spoiled Ivy League Brat to Work.

Yeah, Let's let "Women Rule the World."

They pay 3 times as much for clothes, put lipstick on their Botoxed faces, and live a life of delusion.

That'll be great. Nice going, Wilson.

Wasn't your ORIGINAL theme the sexist "Bring your Daughter to Work?"

Yeah, thought so.

Pointy Haired Bosses with no soul and not a clue.

Posted by: georgieporgie2 | October 8, 2009 12:18 PM
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Kudos to Ms. Wilson for mentioning the importance of meetings - I would only add that an agenda becomes even more valuable when distributed to expected meeting attendees at least a few days in advance. An exception to this might be a routine monthly or weekly meeting in which expected attendees can readily anticipate what will be discussed.

As for the need for meetings in an increasingly technological age, there is certainly a value to what is now termed "face time". That term alone should tell us something about how much we rely on technological devices for communication.

Other modes of communication can also be valuable. Email does not work as a substitute when a meeting really is necessary and we are all probably guilty of relying on email too much. Conference calls can be great time and cost savers when travel budgets are very limited or when travel simply isn't an option for other practical reasons.

The most effective meetings I've attended tend to be more informal, routine ones where members of a team each provide a report on the status of current projects and what events are anticipated in the next several weeks.

In my experience, meetings that tend to run longer than an hour can become tedious unless scheduled well in advance -- and sometimes, even then it is difficult for the average employee to sacrifice more than an hour in a given work day without having the meeting interfere with other planned work for the day. Even so, sometimes we all have to be willing to sacrifice a little of our own work time for the good of a team project when we are a member of the team. And, I think that's when we all tend to want to grumble a little bit about meetings - when we feel conflicted about our pressing demands perhaps on other projects and yet feel like we need to make a good contribution as an individual on that work team. I guess it's a challenge of time management.

Finally, in all fairness to managers, I should note that I am not a manager, so it might be difficult for me to view things from a manager's perspective.)

Anyway, good luck to all at your next meeting!

Posted by: PostReader2009 | October 7, 2009 10:06 PM
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Office meetings provide unparalleled opportunities for office rats to play games with honest workers. When actual accomplishment is not beyond peradventure, sufficient meaningless discourse usually repels its adoption. By contrast, institutional committees study matters brought to their attention.

Posted by: Martial | October 7, 2009 9:33 PM
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Have any of these panelists ever been to meetings? Because in my 15 years on the Hill, never is so much time used to so little effect than in meetings. This has been true across divisions and institutions.

Meetings are rituals of preening and p-ssing. They aren't staged for anyone to learn anything, but to re-affirm hierarchies, pecking orders and the officially inefficient and moronic procedures. Those of us who know how to get things done already know how to work around those, and we keep each other up to date over coffee on our breaks.

Face-time is usually wasted time. In a world full of seagull managers (the ones who make a lot of noise and poop on everything), meetings are just a beach.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | October 7, 2009 3:31 PM
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There is no real reason why most meetings cannot be effectively accomplished by a video conferencing

Actually, there is..People want to get away from their spouses for awhile and have some fun out of town..It used to be the men who did it..Now the women have caught up nicely..equal opportunity and all..

Posted by: ancis42000 | October 7, 2009 2:01 PM
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An anthopologist was once quoted about the importance of meetings, He deduced that their main purpose is not about businees, but social interaction.People in the modern work world are fundamenatally isolated in their offices and cubicles. They are basically lonely and need social interaction,the subtext of many meetings. How many meetings begin with a pre-discussion of last night's Dancing with the Stars or the Redskinss game? Scott Adams deserves at least a Pulitzer for dissecting the absurdity and fascination with business meetings..

Posted by: ancis42000 | October 7, 2009 1:58 PM
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Presenters and participants alike need to know how your organization's meetings run.

It's confounding when everyone has very separate & incompatible notions of the tone, agenda, goal, etc of a meeting.

As an analogy - if the presenter is a conductor, and the music is supposed to be (say) Bach, but half the room thinks its a Dixieland jam session, then then cacaphony is an annoying, time-wasting, and probably noisy, mess.

Posted by: molsonmich | October 7, 2009 1:25 PM
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when some wrong site cause problems we never stop work or think the new active think or change to the best start from this point,we live in great and same village but USA the first leader in the world,the good writers can make(+) to us

Posted by: abd_almlk2006yahoocom | October 7, 2009 12:32 PM
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It should be obvious that this statement is a motivational speech. Like all motivational speeches it is at least a little true but surely also at least a little false. Most sales organizations do seem to depend on some frequency of meetings both for motivational purposes and for actually communicating the sales message. In my experience, this kind of meeting can have some value for other kinds of workers. But it is far from obvious that it is essential or even that it works positively for everyone.
More importantly, for global companies, there is a regular requirement for communication of various kinds between various types of workers. My personal experience was in software engineering. Over time, buget constraints forced a large reduction in travel. Trips can be nice perks and in person communication does have some advantages. But even group meetings just over the telephone worked surprisingly well. With today's technology it really should be possible to hold most kinds of meetings remotely. There is always some emotional value in travel and being there. For sales calls, in person presence may be needed to get the needed attention. But people watching sporting events over TV generally see the event better than those who are there. There is no real reason why most meetings cannot be effectively accomplished by a video conferencing.

Posted by: dnjake | October 7, 2009 11:44 AM
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Very few of the meetings that I attend are run efficiently. C. Northcote Parkinson was so right: Most of the meeting time is spent on the least significant issues.

Posted by: subramanianb | October 7, 2009 9:31 AM
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What a waste of time, especially when run by managers who do not know the first thing about management or the subject matter that we experts address daily.

Posted by: sentheru1 | October 7, 2009 8:59 AM
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Ms. Wilson makes some nice statements about enthusiasm, "get to the point succinctly," "tasks in hand," etc.

Unfortunately, I have to live in the real world. And, I can guarantee that when my higher ups read this type of statement on meetings, they don't consider how to make the meetings efficient and purposeful only that it is great to have meetings.

If you want an understanding of company meetings closer to reality, then read Dilbert.

Posted by: familynet | October 7, 2009 7:32 AM
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