Inc. Magazine editor Jeff Haden made an interesting observation in a recent article about the differences between toxic employees versus exceptional employees. He noted that toxic employees love to hold meeting after meeting, usually because they didn’t speak up during the first sit down. It’s just one example of why so many people believe most business meetings are nothing more than a waste of time.
Time is something that we never seem to have enough of, which is probably why some professionals have such a strong disdain for meetings. When you’re busy, a meeting can feel like an unnecessary distraction. If you end up sitting through an hour long meeting spinning wheels or reiterating what’s already happened, there’s a good chance you’ll mentally check out within the first few minutes. Worse still are the meetings we have to sit through even though they don’t really apply to our job role or projects.
For anyone that’s committed to his or her ONE Thing, protecting your time is of the utmost importance. If you say yes to your ONE Thing you have to say no to a lot of other things. For many people, actually saying yes to your ONE Thing and no to everything else is no easy feat. And while pointless meetings are one of the things you probably don’t mind saying no to at work, actually doing so can be tricky.Click here to learn how to control your time – and read on below to learn how to contain those out of control meetings in your day.
Ways to Respectfully Decline a Pointless Meeting
Getting out of the next unproductive meeting doesn’t require ruffling the organizer’s feathers or bruising their ego (because, of course, the meeting is essential to them). You can artfully dodge the meeting with one of these logical lines of reasoning.
Decline because of time conflicts. If you’re too busy for pointless meetings, just say no. Explain that you don’t have time to spare, and the group can move forward without you so things don’t get delayed.
Ask if your attendance is really necessary. Too often meetings lack a true purpose and focus. By getting the organizer to answer the question of whether you’re actually needed they’ll have to consider why they’re holding the meeting. If your participation isn’t essential there’s a good chance the organizer will let you off the hook without you having to ask outright.
Request that you be included in the follow up instead. There’s usually a post-meeting recap that includes what was discussed and steps moving forward. If you aren’t a decision maker on the matter, request that instead of attending the meeting they include you on the recap. If you need to touch base with specific individuals after the recap you can make that call and handle it on your own time.
Suggest using a project management tool in lieu of meetings. Many meetings are little more than a way for people to touch base on what’s happening with a project. An online project management tool can easily replace most of these meetings. Everyone working on the project will have access to the account and can see what tasks have been marked as completed, what still needs to be done and how close you are to hitting your goals and/or deadline.
Change the company culture regarding status meetings. Studies show that status update meetings aren’t just a boring hassle for the majority of employees – they also hurt productivity. Before the next weekly status meeting have a one-on-one with the company decision makers. Express your concerns that, on average,employees spend more than a day attending and preparing for status meetings. Once managers realize an entire workday is being burned there’s a good chance they’ll rethink the practice.
Suggest meeting over lunch. If you plan to take a break for lunch you can use it as a stand-in for the meeting. Points can be discussed and you can still get face time without it eating into the workday.
Ways to Make the Most of a Meeting You Can’t Avoid
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, attending a meeting is necessary. After all, meetings that are well orchestrated and organized can add real value by getting people on the same page. If you can’t get out of a meeting, here are a few ways to make it shorter and more productive.
Suggest a walking meeting. Grab a tablet and head outside for a little fresh air and exercise during your next meeting. When people are walking instead of sitting around they are much less likely to drag a meeting out.
Make sure there’s a meeting agenda. An agendacan help keep things on track so the meeting is focused and doesn’t deviate. Sending out an agendawill also give people time to prepare so things go quickly during the meeting.
Schedule your portion at the beginning of the meeting. If your presence is only needed during a portion of the meeting, ask that they put your part at the very beginning of the meeting so you can head out right afterward.
Volunteer to be the meeting facilitator. As the facilitator you can ensure everyone is prepared, you have everything you need before the meeting begins and the meeting stays on track.
No one likes sitting through pointless meetings when they could be doing something more productive. Make that your primary focus and you’ll spend a lot less time stuck in meetings watching the clock.