Meetings – Leave the Sticks at Home

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Yesterday afternoon, I jumped on my fifth conference call of the day with two hours left to go. Five hours so far that my ear had been glued to the phone. Well, actually, I use a speaker phone, but you know what I mean. One benefit of using a speakerphone is that it leaves your hands free to do email and other work while on a call. However, it’s also difficult to pay attention to the call if you’re doing other work. A

For each call, I gauge the topic and decide whether I need to devote 100% of my attention or whether I can also get some other work done during the meeting. For this particular topic, I needed to focus as I understood the topic to be a move of staff from one department to another. Attached to the meeting notice was a spreadsheet we would review during the discussion.

Opening the spreadsheet, I see at least 20 columns and 30 rows of boxes, all populated with information. At the bottom is the number of positions we’re talking about moving. It’s one. One position. A giant spreadsheet and one hour on the phone to talk about moving one opening from one department to another. One position equates to less than 0.05% of the entire department. Ummm….maybe it’s just me but…ummm….MOVE THEM.

We can’t seem to approach it that way, though. We’re going to over analyze the situation, review this spreadsheet, gather more information, and then meet again to finalize the decision. I start looking around for a sharp stick to poke in my eye.

I think there should be a rule. If the outcome of a meeting is not a change of at least 5% of the company or has an objective that will not improve earnings by at least 1% then it shouldn’t be a meeting. It should be a memo.

Note to managers: Do you know what your employees are doing with their time? Check.