Productivity Lie #22 You must attend every meeting

Email and meetings, the evil productivity killing twins of the work world, the pet hate of pretty much every employee, the bane of each leaders' existence.


Email and meetings, the evil twins of the work world, the pet hate of pretty much every employee, the bane of each leaders’ existence. Putting emails aside for a moment, let’s focus on the concept of meetings and the massive pressure that comes with having to attend too many that you have time for. They’re long, they’re boring and in most cases, they are ineffective. Digging deeper I’ve unravelled another side to meetings I had not yet explored; too few have been prepared to admit that the self-sabotage hierarchy illusion that being invited to meetings actually makes them feel good – wanted – needed. Saying “I’m in back-to-back meetings” is actually pretty cool in a stupid demented sort of way . From an ego’s perspective, if you weren’t invited to attend as many, would you start feeling left out, unloved, not needed. A simple case of what I don’t have, I want and visa versa.

But just because you were invited does that mean you have to attend? Now there’s where the sweet spot lies in my opinion. A further opportunity to stroke egos, and assert power and control; you want me there but I’m not going to be there … so there. *sticks tongue back in mouth*

What productivity lies are you telling yourself?

Productivity Lie #22: You have to attend every meeting

Okay, so for the record, there are gazillions of really brilliant ways to have meetings, even efficient ones. I’ve explained some of them already in this series (check out lie#20 specifically). Today we’re dealing with another baby altogether, the idea of stepping back a little/lot from the day-to-day operations and allowing your team to make some brilliant decisions of their own. How sometimes, when you are not in the meeting, great(er) things start to happen. Your workforce takes responsibility, they grow, they feel empowered and accountability flourishes like the nurtured seedlings you’ve lovingly watered, dead-headed and pruned since the day you planted them. And whilst this amazingness is taking place, you’ve freed up your time to really knuckle down to the nitty-gritty of your work and your business, as a direct result, begins to blossom just like your flowers.

3 things you can do right now:

  1. Get clear on your companies purpose: You’re here to do a great job right? Well then that’s despite yourself. According to Gallup’s research spanning 142 countries and 180 million employees, only 13% of the worldwide workforce are engaged. That means, even if you think you are doing a brilliant job, chances are you aren’t as brilliant as you could be. I believe this has less to do with your ability and more to do with your understanding of your company’s purpose and that’s not entirely your fault (or if you are the boss, maybe it is). Forget the fancy mission statement here, too few of your team remembers those, and focus rather on the blueprint of your company. A simple diagram encapsulating your main focus areas. Something the full team can take on board and weave intrinsically through the very essence of every piece of work they do, every meeting they call, every session they attend.
  2. Get clear on your purpose. You are searching for crystal clear clarity here … why were you hired and based on this, where can you add the most value to the greater good of the organisation (refer back to point one). Putting your good looks aside, review your employment contract, revisit your KPI’s, round up your team and check-in on your focus. Is it just busy-ness or the core of your business getting your full focus. You’re aiming for the latter. Now next time you’re invited to a meeting, check in on your purpose and make an informed decision if this one (or two, or three) hours of your life could be used more effectively. If the answer is yes, well, you know what you have to do.
  3. Get everyone on board. But don’t stop with you. For your company to be truly effective you need to spread the love so to speak. Get everyone answering question one and two for themselves and you’ll likely find that less meetings are booked in the first place. Now I know what you thinking … “I better call a meeting for this.”

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