March 11, 2008

Managing Meeting Frenzy!

Some days the earliest I can get to doing some real work is after the work day is over. On these days my schedule is usually full of meetings. End to end meetings don’t only show up on my calendar but everyone else I work with has a similar situation. Sometimes the situation gets so ridiculous that to setup a meeting can take a few hours and lots of research. So are all these meetings required?

Probably not! Here is how I deal with meetings.

No Show
These are generic, information sharing, high level and sometimes optional meetings that I skip. I skip the meeting but not the information. Such meetings are usually accompanied with a handout or agenda which I skim through to get the relevant information. If a topic interests me, I may attend the meeting but usually what I need to know is easily available in the attachments.

Some meetings are just not meant for me. I got invited because the whole team got invited is a common reason for getting these invitations. My strategy for dealing with these meetings is to negotiate. I call up the meeting coordinator and try to understand the meeting agenda (I rarely come across meetings that have an agenda!) and what is expected of me in this meeting. If the meeting is a total mismatch, I politely decline but ask to be kept informed via meetings minutes (another alien concept that I seldom come across).

Some meetings are meant for me. Three reasons for attending these meetings

  • I am contributing in the meeting by either presenting, reviewing or having some speaking part in this meeting.

  • I am learning something new, relevant to my job or associated with my current responsibilities.

  • It’s good to be seen and maybe heard. These are situations where my boss or my boss’s boss is conducting a status meeting, town-hall meeting or meet/greet. Part of the corporate game (read career management) is being at the right place at the right time and making your presence known.

Meetings are an integral part of the corporate environment. Well run meetings can be highly productive and beneficial. Brainstorming, information exchange, communication and socialization are all positive components of meetings.

When meetings run amuck and start to impact your productivity – you should take action. It’s your time and effectiveness that is eventually impacted. Set some guidelines on how to deal with this necessary component of corporate life and strike a balance that works for you.

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