Meeting your Fate

Screenshot from “The Office”

Ok…it’s time for us to be honest with each other.

If you are part of the work force, especially as a “white collar” worker, chances are you have been subjected to workplace meetings. The chances are also good that you have found the majority of them to be arbitrary, unnecessary and a huge mis-appropriation of your already limited time. This article is aimed towards workers, and especially anyone in a position to make changes regarding meeting policies.

So let’s get real with each other. Let’s share how we really feel, if only here and now with one another. Ok, I’ll start, then: The vast majority of meetings are unnecessary, and the information shared could easily be sent via an email. Most meetings I have encountered exist for one reason, which is to give the person or group calling the meeting a chance to stand on their soapbox. It’s to validate their position and existence. It is essentially assuming that the information they absolutely need to share with you in person is more important than anything else you could be doing with your time.

Now, before you think I’m bitter and resentful, let me explain my reasoning, and why I am taking the time to discuss this.

Consider the above picture. Chances are you’ve seen the hot comedy series “The Office”, or maybe you’ve watched the cult classic office comedy film “Office Space.” What those two biopics of the American work culture show, along with many other shows and films, is the daily work life of the average worker. They are comedies, yes, and they obviously take liberties and are grossly over exaggerated to maximize the humor, but the reason they are widely popular is they are based on truth. We can all laugh at these moments because all of us have been there at one point or another. We empathize with the characters because we get it. We know that things need to be changed.

This is how I have felt at most meetings in my life

So here comes my call to action. We need to do better. We need to value the time of others, and not judge their time by our own interests and standards. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of others, and understand that the hour of “free time” they may have in a day to attend a meeting may be the only time they have all day long. We need to understand that time is one commodity that is finite. We can always makes more money, but we will never get more time. When you start to look at time as a precious commodity, you are much more likely to value and cherish it. You would never (hopefully!) reach into someone’s pocket and steal their money…so why would you steal their time? It’s arguably much more precious.

I will share an anecdote with you. The names will be withheld to protect the guilty. I also have to mention that I am 41…so I have officially been a part of the work force for two decades. I guess I feel that gives me enough time and experience to talk about this issues in an educated manner.

I was in one job once where the entire culture of the workplace revolved around meetings. There were meetings on a weekly basis; sometimes on a daily basis. There were meetings before work. There were meetings during work. There were meetings after work. The meetings never stopped. Now here is my point in sharing this:

In several years there, there were two meetings that I considered to be important and necessary. That’s it.

The rest could easily have been shared in an email or memo. And in talking to many of my coworkers…I was not alone in thinking this way. There were so many meetings that we learned to mentally mute out the drown, like living next to a freeway.

The worst part of wasting people’s time in these meetings is that you’re sending a negative message. You’re telling them that their time is not valuable, and anything you have to say is more important. That is very rarely the case.

Sometimes meetings are necessary! By overusing them, though, you are crying wolf and reducing the efficiency and faith of you coworkers and employees.

I’ll wrap it up here, because I know you’ve lived this, no matter what side of the powerpoint you’re on. I just think it’s important to think about this, and discuss it.

Thank you for hearing me out! I’d love to hear your opinion/experience/horror story. Send me a message below, even if you completely disagree with me!

See you in the conference room in five minutes…

-Z

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