What’s the point of a team meeting?
The point for me is to gauge a sense of wellbeing and productivity in the team but also to ensure the smooth running of our operations and that can only happen with communication, so yes we do – in moderation.
When I worked at the BBC, it seemed that everything we did was attached to a meeting; I don’t know how we achieved anything in the normal working day. Working at an agency was different, you really only had a meeting if you required consultation on decisions, they were in the style of the ‘fast and furious’ and I liked that. In Copenhagen we held fortnightly breakfast meetings with coffee and Danish pastries. The company paid and everyone turned up and participated – it worked.
So where do you strike the balance between using a meeting to pass on information ensuring smooth operation and using it to take action?
The Business Efficiency Consultant (do I sense some irony in that title?) Andrew Jensen bases his advice on the need to be efficient down to the time and day you hold the meeting. There’s a lot to be said for that; most people like to get into their day first thing and having a meeting at the start of the day can side track even the most dedicated workaholic. He suggests meeting at 3pm on a Tuesday. I see the logic in the Tuesday; it’s not the start of the week but still the beginning and sets you up for what’s to come but 3pm in the afternoon is not mine and after a temperature check with the team, their preferred time of day to meet. It’s good for coffee and a Danish but not much else and I’m sure is when we are physically and mentally at our most weak and tired point in the day.
It’s here that Mr Jensen and I part good company; I have to have meetings, it’s part of management, communication, interaction all the ethereal things that can smooth the workings of an operation but it only works if everyone else really wants to be there.
Taking a different approach, we’ve all signed up to Google+ and are evangelising the beauty of cross communicating without the need of a meeting or an email. You can send links, screenshots and comment on what’s being viewed by those in your circle. It works because it’s reactionary without interrupting what you are working on, or at least in a non-intrusive manner and you feel like you’ve gained time, not lost it.
Google + didn’t exist all those years ago when I was a student. On my very first day at University, during my first lecture, I walked out. The Professor was trying to cram 800 years of European history into one hour: ridiculous. As a responsible adult, I feel less able to just “walk out”. But if the meeting is not achieving anything then why have it and who has the guts to say so? In a world of wasteful meetings we are going to adopt the Privy Council model and hold ‘stand up meetings’. Let’s see how it goes, I’m not expecting anyone to walk, a Danish and coffee is optional though.