Meetings are toxic

Today’s office space is for many people not more than an interuption factory. When you ask people when they come in early or leave late, a common answer is that these early or late hours are the only hours they get some real work done.

Meetings are the word kind of all interruptions. I am also confronted with this challenge. I hate meetings. Especially the once that fall in the category of pure waste. Pure waste to me is when no customer is willing to pay for that time.

I am always looking for the goal of the meeting and what problem the meeting is supposed to solve. There can be one or more goals for a meeting, but if you need to have one it is best to stick to just a single goal to keep things simple.

Here are some problems I see with meeting:

  • They are regularly about abstract things instead of real things.
  • They typically convey a poor level of information. Either too low, too high or irrelevant.
  • They easily drift off-topic.
  • They either require too much prep-work that people don’t have time for.
  • They regularly have a too vague or no agenda at all. Nobody knows the real goal.
  • They include at least a single moron who gets too much time to waste everyone’s time.
  • The worst of all… they procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting that leads to another meeting etc.

Here are some objectives that may help you to focus and limit the time you spend in meetings.

  1. Information sharing – when the objective is to share specific information
  2. Problem solving – when the objective is to solve a specific problem
  3. Decision making – when the objective is to engage in meaningful dialogue in order to reach a decision
  4. Education – when the objective is to learn new things or acquire new skills
  5. Ideation – when the objective is to generate new ideas and develop new ways of thinking
  6. Network – when the objective is to share ideas or meet new people
  7. Produce – when the objective is to work together to develop a specific output
  8. Promote – when the objective is to introduce a new offering or promote a new message
  9. Celebrate – when the objective is to commemorate a milestone or accomplishment

Keep it short: 15 minutes or 30 minutes and no more. Any longer and you end up wasting time. Prepare to make meetings effective and efficient.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

In the book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”  Patrick Lencioni outlines that many working people are in a miserable job. In this post I want to share the basic idea behind his book.

The cost of people not liking their job is staggering. Productivity collapses greatly when employees are unfulfilled. It does not end at work. There is also a great social cost. Even emotionally mature employees share their work misery, frustration, cynicism, weariness into the lives of others. It becomes impossible to appreciate the joy of life. The emotional and psychological damage can be profound and irreversible.

The following three factors will make any job miserable. They seem obvious and maybe even easy to resolve. However, they remain unaddressed in most organizations.

  1. Anonymity – People need to experience that they are known for their work. We need to feel understood and appreciated for our qualities by someone in an authority position. When we don’t feel heard or think we are invisible, generic or anonymous within the company we will not love our job.
  2. Irrelevance – We need to know that our work matters to someone. When we cannot make a connection between what we do and someone else’s satisfaction we simply won’t find lasting fulfillment in our job.Someone needs to appreciate it and we need to know about it.
  3. Immeasurement – It is important that we can gauge our personal progress and contribution. We cannot be fulfilled when our succes depends on the opinions or whims of another person. Our motivation heavily depends on our ability to self assess success or failure. When we perceive that we cannot control our own fate our motivation quickly deteriorates.

Patrick tells us that we will feel miserable with even one of these factors present. What I read is that we our job needs to be meaningful to us and that we need a way to know how we are doing. How about you? Are you in a miserable job? How can we take ownership of these three factors?