The following is part of the onboarding guide for new employees at Ueno that we are working on right now. It’s a work in progress but we think it’s getting to be pretty good and that it might be useful for other people. So we shared it. On the internet. Right here below. Yup. It’s all there.
You can stop reading the part in the italics now. We’ll just keep going you know. We will. Honestly. For as long as you keep reading. Still here? Ok, we give up. Fooled you! We’re still here. Yes we are. Not going away. Just typing and typing. Being annoying. Stop reading the italics! Read the content below! Please! How many !!! do we need to add? Ok, fuck it, it’s obvious you won’t give up. Peace out you bastard.
Meetings can be extremely useful. They can help set everyone on the same path, they can be great for brainstorming, they are a way to unblock you or your teammates, they are a way to meet in person and bond, etc.
But meetings can also easily turn into a big waste of time for most people involved. On average we bill somewhere around $250 an hour for our designers and developers. If you invite 10 people for a one-hour meeting, that adds up to $2500 (that either a client is paying or we are writing off).
That’s a lot of money. Make sure it’s worth it.
When you set up a meeting you should go through a few questions:
- Is there at least one clear issue that you want to solve? If no, then you probably shouldn’t have a meeting. If yes, take the time to write it/them down and include an agenda and context for the meeting in the invite.
- Does this problem require a meeting? Is there a more effective way to solve the issue? Like an informal chat or Slack message?
- Does everyone you are inviting need to be in the meeting? Could you do as much (or more) with fewer people?
As mentioned above, all meetings should have a clear agenda and at least one clear issue that needs to be resolved. The agenda for the meeting should be sent out in advance of the meeting and reviewed when the meeting starts. At the end of the meeting, you should review the agenda again and make sure the people who need to act on the information are told about a clear action item.
Someone should be running the meeting. That person is responsible for keeping the conversation on track, closing the issues with a resolution or next steps, etc. If your meeting doesn’t have a runner, it probably won’t be very productive.
Make sure everyone gets heard
If a person gets invited to a meeting, that person should have a voice in the meeting. The runner is responsible for asking for everyone’s opinion on the matter at hand, with special focus on those that haven’t spoken up yet, drawing everyone in to the conversation.
Clean up after yourself
If you set up the meeting, you are responsible for cleaning up after the meeting and leaving the meeting room in tip-top shape, ready for use by the next person. That includes setting up chairs, cleaning whiteboards, arranging pens, etc.
It may also mean that you are cleaning up after the people who came before you (if they were lazy slobs). If that happens, try to figure out who came before you and politely tell them need to clean up after themselves next time.
Max to the max
30 minutes max
Except for very rare exceptions, all meetings should be 30 minutes or less. Ideally a meeting should be 15 minutes (or less!). Any meeting that goes over 30 minutes should be approved by a supervisor
4 people max
Except for very rare exceptions, all meetings should have 4 people or less. Any meeting that has more than 4 Ueno people in the invite should be approved by a supervisor.
2 meetings a day max
If you are a designer or a developer, you shouldn’t be in more than 2 meetings per day (and to be honest, even 2 meetings is a bit much). If you are in a situation where you routinely have to attend more than two meetings, you should flag it to a supervisor.
What’s the time yo?
Show up on time
All meetings should start on the dot, not one minute over. Be respectful of your fellow attendees’ time, show up on time, and be ready to start. If you are the host, that means setting up the video link a few mins in advance (if there is video chat).
Internal meeting time
We try and schedule all internal meetings from 9 to 11am PST — and when possible, client meetings as well. That way, we can set aside solid blocks of time for deep focus on our work.
Back to back
When possible, always try and schedule your meetings back to back. For example, if you have a meeting already set for 9:30–10:00 and you need to schedule another call, then an ideal time for you would be either 9:00–9:30 or 10:00–10:30.
You can say no to meeting invites
Lastly, if you are invited to a meeting that you feel like you shouldn’t be in, or if you have other assignments that need to take precedence, you can say no to a meeting invite. Be polite about it and explain to the person inviting you why you can’t join.
Ueno is a digital agency with offices in San Francisco, New York and Reykjavik, Iceland. Find out more about us on www.ueno.co.