In almost every business that I have been to, I have seen people in way too many meetings. As soon as a meeting gets cancelled, many people are breathing a sigh of relief. They say, “Oh, thank goodness, I can go do some work.” If you’re in that many meetings that you aren’t getting work done, aren’t you in too many meetings?
At Red Wagon, we say, “You have too many meetings.”
Why do we have too many meetings? Why do we brutalize ourselves in this way? I’ve discovered a few reasons why people are in too many meetings.
- People want to get information. Many humans want to know everything. They want to collect information. If they get invited to an important meeting, they are not going to say, “No.” People want to be in the know. Meetings are usually where that happens—where information gets distributed.
- They want to have a say. There is this misguided thought in business that if you are not in the meeting, then you won’t have a say. In some companies this may be true, but this is a poor way to run a business.
- They are bored, or they want to look busy and important. Consciously or subconsciously, they just want to be busy.
- They have a culture of over collaboration. In this type of culture, employees really enjoy working with each other and supporting each other. Everyone helps everyone else. They say, “I’m not going to let my fellow colleague do this alone. Since we have to collaborate, all of us have to be in every meeting.”
But, no, you don’t have to be in every meeting. At some point, you have to do your work. You do not have to constantly collaborate. If you are all constantly collaborating, you cannot scale.
- Some bosses love an audience, so they invite everyone to a meeting. People are forced to attend meetings like this.
- Some bosses want to over collaborate. They pull people in constantly to make sure they are doing a good job. Then it takes people away from their jobs.
You have to figure out your trigger, or reason, for being in too many meetings. Everyone has a different problem. It will be unique to each person.
If you want to scale faster, if you want to be more productive, you have to help your teams figure out what their triggers are for being in too many meetings. You have to help them stop those bad habits. Educate people about some of the triggers. Everybody needs to make a commitment to being in fewer meetings. If you are in fewer meetings, you can do more work. If you can do more work, you can scale faster.
Note: For some people, their job is to be in meetings. For example, salespeople must be in meetings. If your job is to be in meetings, then run the greatest meetings ever. Don’t be lazy. There are too many people who are lazy about the way that they plan, run, and follow up on meetings. They just take the easy way out. Meetings—no matter how big or how small—should be run well.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors, West Michigan Scaling Up Coach