The Hidden Costs of Meetings

Let’s face it, meetings often suck. They can be a black hole that swallows productivity, especially in large corporations. While the intent behind meetings is usually good —facilitating decision-making and team coordination — poorly executed meetings can become a vortex of wasted time and resources. So, how can we make meetings suck less?

Making Meetings Suck Less

  1. Ditch the Crowd: Large meetings often turn into a spectator sport with only a few active participants. If a meeting isn’t providing value to everyone, either make it shorter or don’t hold it at all.
  2. Cut Down on Recurring Meetings: Routine meetings for the sake of “keeping everyone in the loop” are often counterproductive. Reserve frequent meetings for urgent matters, and reduce the frequency once the issue is resolved.
  3. Know When to Exit: If you find yourself in a meeting where you’re not contributing or gaining any value, it’s okay to leave. It’s not rude to exit; it’s rude to waste someone’s time.
  4. Speak Plainly: Acronyms and jargon are communication barriers. If you need a glossary to understand what’s being discussed, the meeting is already off track.

Make Meetings Less Frequent

Reducing the frequency of meetings can be a straightforward way to enhance their value:

  1. Break the Chain: Forget the “chain of command” when it comes to communication. Information should flow through the shortest, most direct route.
  2. Foster Open Communication: Departmental silos are often the culprits behind inefficiencies. Promote direct communication between team members across departments. A full-scale meeting with another department is often unnecessary when direct lines of communication are open.

Note on “Chain of Command”

In organizations with multiple departments, the “chain of command” is often revered to a fault, especially when it comes to inter-departmental communication. This hierarchical structure can inflate managerial egos, leading to a detrimental impact on productivity across departments.

Controversial Opinion: If you’re a department manager who insists on maintaining this rigid chain of command, you are handicapping the company and are not fit for the role of a manager.