As the Meetings Experts, we’re a little partial to our meetings around here at PGi, but we’re also realistic: we know that you find yourselves in meetings sometimes that are completely unnecessary.
And no, not “unnecessary” meaning “you didn’t want to go.”
Rather, there are times when meetings aren’t properly organized to be successful, and are unnecessary because they’re wasting employee time. Or maybe confused schedules and shifting priorities have made a meeting unnecessary but no one bothered to remove it from the calendar, so a confused team shows up with nothing to do. Regardless of the reason, here are seven signs that you’re headed towards (or are already in!) an unnecessary meeting.
1) Planning to Plan
In my experience, a surefire unnecessary meeting is the “planning to plan” meeting, or quite literally, a meeting to talk about other meetings. Nothing sucks the energy from a group of attendees faster than sending them to a conference room to talk about how you’re going to accomplish things later. There are any number of more productive ways to handle the need to organize future meetings: a post on a company message board, an email thread, IMs, collaborating on a calendar via document sharing, etc.
2) Purpose: Unknown
As quickly as the business world moves today, priorities are constantly being shifted around. From the time a meeting gets scheduled to it actually taking place, a lot can change, and sometimes the purpose of a meeting gets solved or made irrelevant by intervening circumstances. If you find yourself on your way to a meeting that you don’t know the purpose of or that is addressing an issue that you know to already be solved, odds are the meeting is unnecessary. It probably just got left on a calendar and no one bothered to cancel it.
3) Ineffective or Absent Stakeholders
One of the simplest meeting best practices is making sure that you’ve got all the right people on the invite, particularly the primary stakeholders of the topic at hand. There are times when it’s tempting to plow ahead without them if you get a last-minute cancellation, particularly if it’s a time-sensitive issue, but I promise you you’ll end up spinning your wheels. Even worse is when they are present but are rendered ineffective by shoddy audio quality, stuttering video or confusing and time-consuming downloads for web and video conferencing. Make sure you’re using the best tools for your remote meeters for simple and effective virtual meetings.
An unorganized meeting is a quick way to waste a lot of people’s time. While the meeting itself might be necessary, it’s not useful in the state it’s approaching you. Only with a clearly defined agenda can you expect to get a group of more than a handful of team members to engage productively on a series of topics.
5) Not For You
At bigger organizations in particular, job roles and departments can pretty easily get confused. I know I’ve been invited to meetings before by other teams and it’s pretty quickly apparent that I really have no business being there. A polite inquiry to the organizer beforehand can clear this up before you arrive, especially if the agenda seems pretty far removed from your area of expertise.
6) Business as Usual
Another pet peeve of mine is the unnecessary daily or weekly status update meeting. Sometimes they can actually be quite effective; as with any best practice, its effectiveness really hinges upon the dynamic of your particular team or project. However, these can often boil down to the “business as usual” update – yes, I’m still working on that thing you assigned me, no it’s not done yet, yes it’s on schedule, repeat ad nauseum. Empower your team to either skip these meetings when there’s nothing to report or simply handle them with a quick email if there’s nothing meaty to discuss.
Quite frequently, you’ll go to a thirty or sixty minute meeting only to find you’ve accomplished your goals in half that time or less. In that case, you might have been better off handling things through other, asynchronous means – email, message boards, or IMs. These are less disruptive to employee workflows and can often be just as if not more productive than a stunted meeting. If you’re reviewing a meeting’s agenda and are fairly confident you’ve got less than a full slate, consider handling it in outside of the conference room or virtual meeting.
What are your unnecessary meeting pet peeves? Share them in the comment below!
Image Credit: SmartDraw Blog