End The Corporate Meeting Malaise

in 30 seconds Google points out the absurdity of the time suck


If you’ve ever worked at a large company, you undoubtedly have to use Microsoft Outlook to manage your day. In reality, if you were actually managing your day you wouldn’t need Outlook.

Your day often gets filled with hours of meetings that aren’t at all needed. Every meeting begets another meeting. Every phone call spawns another call or yet another meeting. I’ve even attended meetings to decide when we’d have another meeting.

I swear that there are people in offices who spend way more time meeting than they spend doing. Maybe it makes them feel important. Maybe it hides vulnerabilities. I’m not sure why people hold so many meetings when the solution to most of the problems in a company is somebody taking the reins and actually doing something.

This commercial by Google really spotlights the reflex response that a lot of people have in the corporate world when they end a call or meeting.

http://youtu.be/NQLhOdTHoXA

Here’s the problem. Webster’s Dictionary defines a meeting as:

a situation or occasion when two people see and talk to each other

You see? That’s it! That’s what wrong. We’ve been scheduling time with one another to talk. I suggest that we stop. I did. I rarely hold meetings anymore. I rarely attend meetings anymore.

Instead of spending my time “talking” to people I “engage” with them. The definition of engage is:

to perform a particular service or task

It may seem subtle to you but it means the difference between a meeting that is just an appetizer for yet another meeting, and actually doing something.

How many meetings have you gone to where you actually complete something? How many meetings have you attended where you actually went there with the notion that you would be confronted with and would have to complete a task or solve a problem?

When I took my last position I observed that over 70 percent of my day was taken up by attending meetings. So I simply stopped going. I blocked my calendar all day and didn’t allow people to waste my time.

My time is my currency and I’m not spending it on 6 hours of meetings per day. Just not going to happen. Imagine how much more productive you’d be if you simply said no to meetings.

If social media has proved anything to me it’s that concise messages resonate. It’s also amazing how much clearer conversations are when we speak as humans. Hearing corporate jargon makes me want to puke. Who really talks like that?

I know you’ve had conference calls like this:

http://youtu.be/DYu_bGbZiiQ

The next time someone schedules you for a meeting, take what I call, “The Backed-Up Toilet Approach.” Allow me to explain.

If you ever had a toilet back up on you then you know the urgency of the situation. As the bubbling crude is rising, do you:

a. run for help
b. go to a meeting
c. take care of the situation with some very swift and efficient action

I’m going to guess that most of you opt for C. If you choose either A or B you’re inevitably left with a lot of things covered in you know what.

More than likely the solution to the problem was nearby and you handled it. You could have let the problem become worse. You could have tabled it and “kicked it upstairs” for someone else to deal with. You could have made a few calls and decided on a follow-up.

Or if you’re competent and experienced you can simply deal with the matter at hand. I consider myself quite competent at what I do and I prefer to take action.

I don’t mind dealing with crap. I don’t mind rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty. That’s what taking action is all about. I don’t want to leave a stinky mess lying around for someone else to clean up.

I feel that a lot of businesses hire a lot of people who really can’t perform, so they become “meeters”…you know, people who really aren’t competent at anything else other than meeting and taking notes.

Want to solve the meeting problem? Hire doers and let them do.

If you found any value in this piece, I would greatly appreciate it if you scrolled down and recommended it. And if you liked this, please check out some of my other articles here on Medium and on my blog.