More Meetings

I work in a business where there a lot of meetings; I think most grown-ups do (I don’t remember having a lot of meetings when I worked at Burger King or when I sorted mail). But I work in a business – not comics yet – where we have a meeting concerning the building, a meeting concerning my particular department, a meeting concerning the immediate staff, another two because of contract language, another three because of various committees that I’m on, and a few more by law. Considering I have this many meetings in any given month and/or any given week, it always amazes me how these meetings come up.

  • The scheduled meeting leaves me dumbfounded. There are very few instances where a meeting must be held at a specific time at a specific interval. A weekly check-up on the status of a multi-layered project might be an exception; a series of shots to cure an STD might be another. But most weekly and/or monthly meetings that I attend fall under the umbrella of “unnecessary”.
  • The unprepared meeting scheduler amazes me too. He calls the meeting to discuss how things are progressing, yet doesn’t have anything to say. Often, he’ll start the meeting with, “I have nothing to say” or “nothing new on my end.” This is the only type of meeting that’s a complete waste of time for everyone involved.
  • Meetings formed to simply aggregate information are useless too. We live in an age where email is rampant, texts are woven into everyday language, and Facebook has become a conventional means of acquiring news. There is never a reason to form a meeting, have everyone schedule their day around it, and then have it be comprised of, “Here’s a copy of all the info I got from HR last week. Look it over and let me know what you think.”
  • The homework meeting is the best of all of these worlds. At the last meeting you were given a homework assignment – usually in the form of “think about it and come back next week with some fresh ideas”; it’s often followed by “don’t be afraid to think outside the box, people!” This meeting has been scheduled to continue the progress made in the last meeting (i.e. none). No one did their homework because these meeting are not our jobs, so we think about the assignment on the way to the conference room. Once there, the person who scheduled the meeting has no plan in place for the meeting other than to discuss what everyone came up with.

At what point do we, either as a society or as a company, simply say, “Enough with the meetings.” There’s ever only three reasons to have meetings and they’re all pretty uncommon:

  1. To discuss a project with a lot of different people all at once. “Discuss” means a lot of people talking with some give and take; it doesn’t mean the leader talks for an hour while everyone nods and texts under the table.
  2. To fulfill some sort of law. Some companies/states/countries mandate that you have a meeting if something goes down – maybe a sexual harassment suit, maybe a reprimand, maybe some sort of stipend because you invented an iPhone that makes phone calls.
  3. To talk about something the shouldn’t be written down. Maybe you’re having a revolt or an intervention or some sort of company party that you don’t want the boss’ boss’ boss to know about. Email would be a bad place for that.

And that’s it. Those are the only meetings ever.


3 Responses

  1. What about secret meetings that are just subterfuge for intraoffice sexual activity? Do those not count as actual meetings?

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