When I worked on the corporate side, I sat in my fair share of meetings. On average, probably about 3-4 hours a day–half my day. But, that was nothing compared to my boss and my bosses boss. They routinely spent their entire day (probably save an hour here or there) in a room talking to other people.
Why do we do that?
Why do we lock up our top talent, our leaders in meetings for literally the ENTIRE day?
Here’s my logic:
* These are conceivably your best leaders in your organization–if you lock them up in meetings you take away valuable time they need to stew, noodle, contemplate and THINK.
* These are conceivably your best leaders in your organization–if you lock them up in meetings you rob them of time they need to spend with their teams, you know, LEADING!
* These are conceivably your best leaders in your organization–if you lock them up in meetings you take away time they could be using NETWORKING and meeting with folks outside the organization in an attempt to bring in new IDEAS to bolster their teams.
* These are conceivably your best leaders in your organization–if you lock them up in meetings you inevitably FRUSTRATE them because your robbing them of ALL of the above and they will eventually seek other employment.
If you’ve sat in one of these director/senior roles, does that sound about right?
I understand the need for meetings. I do. Brainstorming. Bringing a team up to speed all at once instead of individually. The reasons are many. But 8 hours of meetings? No one needs that. In fact, I always say that if I ever end up running a marketing department or my own agency at some point, I would NEVER have a meeting longer than one hour.
I mean it. I wouldn’t. If you need to meet, you can do it in an hour. If you can’t, you need to do more work BEFORE the meeting to get to the point where we need to meet.
But, back to the challenge at hand. How do we help these senior leaders escape this conundrum? I have a few ideas:
Block your calendar
Go into your calendar and block it for 2 hours a day EVERY day. Need to start smaller? Block it for 4 hours a day one day a week. Label it however you want. When I tried this, I was honest and labeled it “desk time.” Seemed to do the trick…
Set at least two coffees once a week
This will FORCE you to go outside the office and meet with colleagues, vendors and other “influencers” in our industry. Trust me–it’ll help.
Ask for meeting agendas
You’ll be surprised how this shortens meetings. Ever been to a meeting with an agenda? It’s usually on time. It usually takes less than an hour. Those meetings without agendas? They tend to ramble on forever. Aimlessly, at times. Which sounds better to you?
Run your meetings like an agency would
In one of my former corporate jobs, I sat in a meeting once that probably had upwards of 20 people in it. And, most of them were what I’d consider senior-level employees. If these folks were on the agency side, they’d be billing out at $200 an hour-plus. It was a two-hour meeting. So, by my math, that meeting cost the organization more than $8,000. When inviting people to meetings, keep this math in mind. Even if you work on the corporate side, think about your meetings as if you were on the agency side.
Just a few ideas. What do you think? Have any other ideas to help our senior leaders out? I know they’d appreciate the help.
Note: Photo courtesy of Daniel Greene via FlickR Creative Commons.