I read – one of a million – posts yesterday that bashed meeting time as unproductive and busy work. That’s BS.
The reality as usually is more differentiated than this:
The amount of time that is spent well in meetings is a function of your total span of control and interdependence between your responsibility and others in the company.
Let’s break this down.
Total span of control
If you manage 8 direct reports and a total of 200 employees, meetings are in fact the best spend of your time. If you coordinate work with your direct reports well, there’s a multiplying effect when that coordination bears fruits down the road. When you manage a lot of people, it’s not your job to sit alone in a room and strategize day in day out or design beautiful artwork for the next ad campaign. Your job is to enable your team to do that at a larger scale and higher quality.
When your field of responsibility has multiple touch points to other and influences them or is being influenced, you have to talk to these other functions. A lot. This negotiation and alignment is a vital and core function of any organization. That can’t be handled alone.
Why Meetings are good
Given the above:
- The more people you lead, the more time you will spend in meetings. And that’s a good thing. It’s called managerial leverage.
- The more complex and interdependent your field of work is, the more time you will spend in meetings. And that’s a good thing, too.
To come back to the starting point: When you work on a staff level position with no touch points to other functions, the majority of all meetings for you will be a waste of time.
In all other cases, it’s more about having the right meetings and running them well.
They are the central tool that you as a leader have to influence behavior in your organization.
So if you again hear someone say meetings are a waste of time: Tell them, they’re not.
BENJAMIN LANDERAUGUST 4, 2022