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Meetings are a Waste of Time

Why I think you only need one meeting a week.

How many meetings are necessary for a team? It’s a question that passes through most new manager’s minds. There’s a balancing act between keeping the team aligned and updated, and spending too little time working.

Meetings are time consuming, there’s no doubt about it. Getting the most out of the time we do spend in meetings is essential with a large and growing team. Hours spent in meetings are most often non-revenue-generating, but are a critical step in the project management process, so using that time as efficiently as possible is a goal all companies should strive for.

I’ve always preferred to separate strategy meetings from design meetings. Having a meeting where both are covered can lead to confusion in regards to what the current state of affairs are. Strategy should come first, and when finalized, should be followed by design and implementation.

While business needs vary largely by industry, there are some meetings that are generally classified into two categories.

1) Which meetings are necessary?

Onboarding Meetings

On your new hire’s first day, it’s important to bring them up to speed on what your company stands for and how to act appropriately. It’s important to not gloss over anything, go slow, and really take the time up front to invest in the employee relationship. Taking the time now to explain your company’s culture, expectations, and processes will save significant time later down the road by preventing these certain situations from occurring.

One-on-One Meetings

Having monthly One-on-One meetings with each employee has proven to be one of the most productive and fruitful meeting types. Giving your employees the floor to speak, and making the effort to truly understand them adds immensely to team morale. The other added benefit being that you can identify small internal or external issues early on, when an employee might not speak up in a regular meeting setting. This ability to identify potential problems early gives us time to craft the correct response without being blindsided by it down the road.

As a manager, One-on-One meetings also allow you to vocalize any performance issues you may be having with an employee in a discreet, safe way. They allow you to reiterate expectations, let them know how they are doing, and always follow up with ways they can improve

Once-weekly Team Meeting

THIS is the only weekly team meeting that you should need. The goal of this meeting is to update the team with any changes to the project or project constraints, set goals for the week, cross-communicate with members of the team who you do not directly work with, as well as boosting team morale.

Brainstorming new ideas or changes should be allocated a certain percentage of this meeting as well.

2) Which meetings probably don’t need to happen, or can be combined into other meetings?

Progress update meetings

With the rise in capable team management software, there is just no longer a need to have team meetings where employees are simply giving progress updates to the rest of the team. Stakeholders in each project should have 24/7 visibility into the progress of the project without the need for meetings.

Meetings without an agenda

This should be obvious, but it’s critical to have a meeting agenda, and a goal for each meeting. Without an agenda, meetings have a tendency to run long and become full of tangents and side-bars. Having an agenda will directly correlate to the efficiency of the time spent in meetings and away from our desks.

Timely in-person meetings

Always try and screen potential clients, partners, employees, and consultants with a phone or virtual meeting first. If and only if you like what they have to say should you invite them in for an in-person meeting. Doing this first step will save you the time out of your day by screening if the other party is just not worth dealing with. Save your in-person meeting time for prospects that you have vetted and have shown some promise.

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