Stop the Meeting: I Want to Get Off!

Posted on | January 20, 2017 | No Comments

Notes from Stop the Meeting: I Want to Get Off! How to Manage Your Team Without Meetings by Scott Snair, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2003.

    • Managers tend to hold meetings because that’s what their peers are doing

    • Managers hold meetings because of corporate mandates requiring that certain types of meetings be convened. In other words, they hold meetings because they are told to

    • Managers hold meetings because they perceive personal shortcomings in how they utilize other management techniques, such as one-on-one managing, employing transformational leadership and delegating

    • Sometimes managers hold meetings because it allows them to avoid other, more meaningful and productive undertakings

    • Managers hold meetings to give themselves a false sense that something has been accomplished (14)

Look into yourself and examine your own reasons for disliking meetings but then holding them anyway. It is the important first step that will help you stop surrendering to them. (15)

The benefits of work teams do not justify the dramatic by-products they create – by-products such as leadership vacuums and a lost sense of direction. (55)

The more an organization tends towards management via committees and staffs, the more meetings there are. And the more meetings there are, the fewer sound decisions there are (53)

‘if success isn’t clearly defined, then when does a work team know it is failing? Often, it doesn’t know. Also, if individual jobs and responsibilities aren’t spelled out, then the potential for idleness endures… if a team is preoccupied with establishing procedures and policies in a plethora of meetings, then indolent or indifferent workers easily can hide in a whirlwind of meaningless activity’ (56)

Matrix team members resent being pulled away from their daily tasks without being released from their daily obligations. It is difficult for them to perform well if they believe from the start that they’re getting a raw deal (60)

Offer direct guidance to those who seek it, and encourage your managers to do the same. Subsequently, as leadership gains a foothold, reduce the number of meetings you hold until you reach the point where a meeting becomes the important exception rather than the omnipresent, expected event. (63)

Remember that successful manager exhibit charisma and deep, personal care for team members. A transformational leader truly inspires and intellectually invigorates others.

The worst aspect of self-managing teams or matrix arrangements is that they debilitate the true leaders in an organization. (64)

Set the Example Before Assigning the Activity

It’s important that you complete a task competently at least once before you turn it over to someone else as a project. You don’t need to accomplish it in expert fashion, but just well enough to understand the time, energy, effort and brainwork involved (89)

Make certain the person sees you jot his name down in the diary on the date you’re going to be back in touch seeking results (91)

The First Paradox of Delegating is that delegating almost always means more control, not less, when it is properly carried out… skillful delegating takes planning.

The idea of excluding yourself from a meeting might seem uncomfortable. But consider another uncomfortable idea. How many people in your organization over the years have missed promotions or—in the long run—have been fired for bad performance because they allowed meetings to overcome them, clogging their workday and impeding their achievements? (138)

Compare meeting reduction to weight reduction (139)

Use positive reinforcement. Compliment the person who avoids holding unnecessary meetings. I always make a point of thanking someone for completing a project or soliciting information without holding the obligatory meeting (140)

Data flow best practice: ‘opening up your work routine, your daily goals, your successes and any gained knowledge to all those who might benefit from the information, as well as making sure they know this data is on hand. In spite of the commonly held belief that holding back information fosters job preservation, the reality is that managers appreciate people whose daily progress at work is an open book, and they detest people who are miserly with work-related facts, figures, and findings. (148)

Managing without meetings – 10 ways:

    1. Stay busy and productive
    2. Clarify your job description and duties
    3. Respectfully excuse yourself
    4. Make yourself accessible
    5. Set the example
    6. Obtain the meeting itinerary early and offer answers beforehand
    7. Directly approach someone with your anti-meeting philosophy
    8. Voice your displeasure following an unproductive meeting
    9. Refuse offering vehicles of comfort
    10. Assume the role of project manger

People are less likely to convene meetings if they perceive an abundance of open communication in their organization (151)

Jump right into the topic at hand. There’s no time for tea or coffee. The’res no time to talk about last night’s football game on television. There’s no time for company rumours and no time for socializing. Assume control from the minute you have a quorum and never let go of that control. (158)

Gus Pagonis of Sears: four types of management communication – bulletin, three-by-five, stand-up and sit-down.

The staff call: each department head provides three ‘ups’ (good things that the department has accomplished), three ‘downs’ (problems or things that need attention, with solutions in progress or under consideration) and items of interest (matters pertinent to the group and circumstances that are upcoming). People are strongly encouraged not to stray from the format. (162)

‘after all is said and done and analysed, you should still assume the attitude that the best meeting is the one not called’ (166)


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