Whether you are in a large company or a small business, we can all agree that meetings consume too much of our lives. Scheduled meetings that occur “just because it is Monday” are often starved of agenda items but happen regardless. They become “posting meetings” where individuals each share something – oftentimes something that everyone already knows – and always something that could have been shared via email. While meetings are helpful in keeping us on track, the cost of meeting is frequently underestimated.
The ultimate irony is that regularly scheduled team meetings are most often held in the morning, the time when we are most productive. When a meeting commences, everyone’s process grinds to a halt. As for impromptu meetings that are called to quickly catch up on a project or discuss a problem, they tend to balloon, even if they could, in fact, happen in 10 minutes or less. Ideally, meetings should just have a start time and end as quickly as they can.
One best practice we have observed in the field is calling “standing meetings” – meetings in which people gather and remain standing. The tendency to sit back and reiterate points – or, to idly commentate rather than content-make – dwindles as people tire of standing.
The pundits will cry, “What about meetings that are called to generate buy-in and build culture?” Well, these meetings are important, but their purpose should be transparent. Most often, leaders call meetings out of their own insecurity. If you don’t know what is going on with your team, the easiest and most comforting solution is to call a meeting.
The next time you make the expensive decision to call a meeting, be clear with the purpose and consider making it a standing meeting.
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Scott Belsky and the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.