9 Reasons Why You Should Skip That Meeting

It’s Friday!

That means “No Meeting Friday!”

That is when we set aside Friday from the wasteful distraction of meetings and concentrate on doing real, creative work.  It can be the most productive day of the work week.

What?  Your workplace doesn’t observe “No Meeting Friday?”  Well, you can still do your best to claim it for your own.  Read my previous post “No Meeting Friday” for some tips.

Death by Meeting?

Why do so many companies allow themselves to be paralyzed by schedules that are so full of meetings that no real work ever gets done.  Some companies have literally put themselves out of business by locking themselves in the boardroom.

“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.”

Does this sound like your workplace?

Yet, so many companies let meetings rule the day.  To increase productivity, companies need to bring back more actual interaction.  People hide behind meetings.  Meetings keep them from having to do actual work or interact with others, and they are a great way to appear busy.

One way to combat endless meetings is to give your employees the “Right to Decline.”  This means that employees have the right to decline meetings as they deem fit.  This is a powerful way of ensuring that meetings are necessary and effective.  Because if they are not, your employees will know it and stop attending.

9 Reasons Why You Should Skip That Meeting

One of the biggest business myths is that meetings are necessary and productive.  However, most meetings are not worth our time.

Here are 9 Reasons “Why You Should Skip That Meeting:”

  1. No Agenda – How many meetings do you attend that have no defined purpose?  You show up and everyone is sitting there wondering what is to be discussed.  If a meeting does not have a clear list of things to be accomplished in advance, it should not be held.
  2. The Meeting Will Start Late – How many meetings in your workplace actually start on time? Be honest.  I used to work for a company where the 8AM staff meeting was so consistently late that people started calling it the “820″ meeting.  Why?  Because that is when it usually started each day.  Does your company have an “820?”
  3. No One is Prepared – Even when a meeting does have a purpose, how many people actually show up prepared?  Are they ready?  Have they reviewed the documents?  Are they aware of the issue?  This is not grade school, but everyone should be expected to do their homework.
  4. People Will Be Late – How many meetings end up restarting at the 19 minute point.  ”Oh…sorry that I am late, folks.  Can you back up and tell me what I missed.”  The answer should be, “No.”  I recommend not letting anyone join the meeting who is more than 5 minutes late.  After that, they can get caught up later.
  5. No Action Taken – Do you finish meetings with nothing accomplished?  It is truly amazing how many meetings have little actionable outcome.  The team just spent 60 minutes in a room and no decisions were made and no follow-up will happen on the items discussed.
  6. People Will Work on Other Things – I recently observed a meeting where eight of twelve people in the room were busy tapping on their laptops or cellphones.  And you wonder why your meeting is not effective?  Attendees must be “In The Meeting,” or else they should be asked to leave.  Better yet, ban phones and laptops from your meetings.  Bonus tip: If your people are working on other things, this is a red flare that your meetings are not worth attending.  They are speaking with their actions, rather than their mouth.
  7. You Really Won’t Miss Much – People tell me they are afraid that if they skip a meeting, that they might miss something important.  Unless they are handing out free money, I guarantee you will not miss much.  Try it.  Find a legitimate reason if you must, and then miss a meeting that you consider important.  You will surprised at what you didn’t miss.  And if you did, someone will let you know.
  8. Too Long – When I see a meeting invite for 2 or more hours, I have to resist the urge to instantly hit delete.  Meetings should not last more than one hour.  Anything beyond that is not effective.
  9. You Could be Getting Work Done. – There is a famous business quote that, “either you are in a meeting or you are getting work done.”  Meetings do not get work done, they create more work.  Too often, people say they cannot get their job done because they have too many meetings.  Minimize meetings to maximize team productivity.

Miss the Meeting, Get the Work Done

Most companies have their people sitting in endless, often purposeless, meetings.  What they are in essence saying is, “Don’t do your real work, and instead sit in meeting rooms for hours on end.”

Let’s set aside the meetings.  Allow yourself and your team get some creative work done.  At least on Friday’s.

How does your workplace do at managing meetings?  What are your thoughts on meetings and getting things done?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Gerard

    I used to work for a large cable company. And they loved meetings. Really loved meetings. I had two day long meetings per month, as well as many, many, many more. My boss actually told me that I should be in at least two meetings a day. can you believe it? I was actually measured by the number of meetings I was in.

    The first meeting I had was with 6 people, including the CTO. There we were supposed to discuss something, but I cannot quite remember what. What I do remember is that we did get an agenda, well sort of. The first ten minutes were spent on discussing the spreadsheet that was sent along with the invitation. The disucssion regarding the spreadsheet centered on what the numbers in the spreadsheet meant, since it had no explanation.
    Then we spent another ten minutes discussing what we would discuss, i.e. set an agenda. And we rounded it off with ten minutes of actually discussing what we had gathered for.

    The second meeting I attended had 10 participants. 5 of whom did not know had no clue what we were discussing in the first place. The meeting lasted for 3.5 hours, no decisions were made, no goals reached and then another meeting was set up to be held in 2 weeks. With again 10 participants and the same problems all over again.

    Needless to say that I quit that job. For a normal person it would be hard to live in such a culture, but for someone who was used to internet startups it was hell.

    • Craig

      Gerard, wow! I can see why you did not remain in that environment. :)

      Love the line that you were “measured by the number of meetings” you were in. Scary, but many companies reward “activity” instead of “results.”

      Thanks for sharing! Best wishes!

      • Gerard

        Thank you for your comments Craig. Looking back on it, it could have been a Dilbert comic. And like in the Dibert comics, the bosses didn’t understand why people were frustrated.

  • Gerard

    I used to work for a large cable company. And they loved meetings. Really loved meetings. I had two day long meetings per month, as well as many, many, many more. My boss actually told me that I should be in at least two meetings a day. can you believe it? I was actually measured by the number of meetings I was in.

    The first meeting I had was with 6 people, including the CTO. There we were supposed to discuss something, but I cannot quite remember what. What I do remember is that we did get an agenda, well sort of. The first ten minutes were spent on discussing the spreadsheet that was sent along with the invitation. The disucssion regarding the spreadsheet centered on what the numbers in the spreadsheet meant, since it had no explanation.
    Then we spent another ten minutes discussing what we would discuss, i.e. set an agenda. And we rounded it off with ten minutes of actually discussing what we had gathered for.

    The second meeting I attended had 10 participants. 5 of whom did not know had no clue what we were discussing in the first place. The meeting lasted for 3.5 hours, no decisions were made, no goals reached and then another meeting was set up to be held in 2 weeks. With again 10 participants and the same problems all over again.

    Needless to say that I quit that job. For a normal person it would be hard to live in such a culture, but for someone who was used to internet startups it was hell.

    • Craig

      Gerard, wow! I can see why you did not remain in that environment. :)

      Love the line that you were “measured by the number of meetings” you were in. Scary, but many companies reward “activity” instead of “results.”

      Thanks for sharing! Best wishes!

      • Gerard

        Thank you for your comments Craig. Looking back on it, it could have been a Dilbert comic. And like in the Dibert comics, the bosses didn’t understand why people were frustrated.

  • http://twitter.com/Sheeshany Haitham Al-Sheeshany

    It`s one of the posts that make me go: (so I`m not alone in this afterall) :) .