Marred by Meeting Madness?

Meeting madness, scourge of workplace and interior designers everywhere

Meeting madness, the scourge of modern workplace culture, and they ruin our working day. Our diaries are packed full of meetings. Pointless, meandering, disorganised meetings. We all seem to suffer them. We all joke about them, perhaps to reduce our suffering

The effect of meeting madness goes beyond just us. Harvard Business Review has published evidence which shows whole teams, departments and organisations are held back by a meeting-centric organisational culture

How do we cure this scourge of office working? One step at a time. Starting with ourselves

How Does Meeting Madness Spread

Of course, not all meetings are bad. Well-run meetings, with worthwhile aims, can deliver great results: resolution of complex problems, raised awareness and buy-in of organisational goals, strategy and shifts, shared experiences, increased learning, balanced decision-making. If we only had useful meetings, we wouldn’t have many meetings at all

We are good people, looking for the good in others. Surely, if so-and-so has convened this meeting, there must be a reason. We want to contribute to the company, and company culture dictates our contribution is seen in meetings. We are part of a team, something bigger than us. Meetings are where we participate, interact with each other

There are other, less altruistic, causes. There are those who use meetings to show ‘things are getting done’ (often, the opposite is true). As a means of exhibiting a person’s influence across the organisation. Posturing, boasting even; ‘Hey, look at how many meeting I’ve got to go to. I’m sooo busy’. And there are those that just love the sound of their own voice

Why Meeting Madness Isn’t a Joke

Because it has real effects

They eat into our precious time. We sit in meetings, our minds churning over all things we need to get done. They make it harder to get our ‘head down’, must-do work finished. Meetings break our flow, as do the obligatory, irritating meeting reminders. They drain us of our energy. How often are we sat quietly in the corner, only to be called upon to answer a question to show we are ‘engaged‘?

At the organisational level, creativity and productivity take a hit. Employees don’t feel empowered if they’re required to regularly attend check-up meetings. Collectively, creativity falls as workers are less likely to explore their own ideas. Rising frustration of attending unnecessary meetings, stopping them doing actual work. For the company, rising staff frustration and dwindling motivation is a fall in productivity

How to Avoid Meeting Madness

Of course, we could learn and implement meeting effectiveness (watch this space!). Whilst we wait for common-sense to take hold (and we might be waiting for a while!), here are some tips to avoid pointless, meandering, disorganised meeting in increasing order of belligerence:

  • Block out time in your calendar and mark it as private. The more difficult you’re to get hold of, the less likely you’re to be invited (and you can get some work done!)
  • Just attend part of it, letting the organiser know beforehand. Sit the near the door and duck out quietly, with nothing more than a barely perceptible nod to the organiser. And the digital equivalent. Before ending your call, let the organiser know privately in the chat function
  • In reoccurring meetings, don’t say anything….ever. After a while no one will notice when you stop attending, you might even get dropped from the invite list
  • Don’t show up. If it’s a small meeting, send an apologetic email / Slack / WhatsApp afterwards. You’ll always have an urgent deadline to reference
  • In reoccurring meetings, ask what the purpose of it is. If there’s a lot of shuffling or benign answers suggest changing it an ‘ad-hoc’ meeting
  • Ask for an agenda, under the guise of being helpful, e.g. ‘Before I accept could you let me have the agenda? I want to be able to prepare so you get the most benefit’. They’ll probably ask someone else next time
Avoid Meeting Madness

Meeting madness is the scourge of modern workplace culture. Don’t let pointless, meandering, disorganised meetings ruin your working day. Take the necessary steps to avoid them. You’ll be happier, more energised, fulfilled, creative

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