To Meet, or Not to Meet?

By Kristen Hayer

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We’ve all seen the mug:  “I survived another meeting that should have been an email.”  A recent article in The Atlantic estimates that Americans spend an average of 40% of their workweek in meetings. 

At The Success League we see companies on both ends of the communication spectrum.  There are organizations that meet about everything and include everyone in those meetings.  Those companies waste time and money by having more participants than necessary.  Other companies try to avoid this pitfall by having very few meetings and relying almost entirely on email.  They waste time and money through miscommunication and mistakes.

How do you find the middle ground?  Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when faced with the prospect of yet another meeting.

Do I have something to offer?

If you’ve been invited to a meeting make sure you can answer this question in the affirmative.  Did you create the content or drive the initiative?  If so, you should probably be there.  If it’s a brainstorming session and you have great ideas to contribute, by all means, attend.  If you’re just going to be a warm body in the room, think twice.

Do I have anything to learn?

You should be able to answer yes to this one as well.  Maybe this is a training session where you can pick up a few great tips for your job.  Good reason to attend.  Maybe it’s a team meeting where your leader will be providing key information to your group.  You should be there.  If you aren't learning, or if you could get the same information from a report or peer more quickly, the meeting probably isn't a good use of your time.   

Will it build relationships?

The only reason you may want to attend a meeting where you don’t contribute or learn is to build relationships.  In some corporate settings and cultures it is very important for everyone involved in a project to meet in person.  This is a way to develop relationships that may be critical down the road.  In these cases, look for ways to contribute to the meeting where you can, and make the most of the time before and after the meeting to network.

But, what if...

...it’s required.

Why?  Just like individuals, companies sometimes develop bad habits.  If you’re regularly being asked to attend meetings that waste your time, talk to your boss or the organizer about it.  If you propose an alternative (e-mailing the team with the information, limiting attendance to key participants) they will probably be willing to listen.  It doesn’t do your company any good to waste your time.

 ...we do everything over email.

This is for those companies on the other end of the spectrum.  Email is great for most communication, but it is terrible for 2 things; dialog and emotional topics.  Need to hold a Q&A or brainstorm?  While it's possible to accomplish that over email, the back and forth will kill a lot of time.  Better to have a standup meeting.  Do you have to convey sensitive information?  A phone call or meeting will be much more effective (and less likely to be misinterpreted) than email.

Get in the habit of asking yourself these questions before you accept meetings, and you’ll save time and frustration.  And the money you would have spent on that mug.

The Success League is a customer success consulting firm focused on helping leaders and teams perform at their peak.  To learn how other companies have worked with us to develop their customer success groups, visit TheSuccessLeague.io.