I recently read the article below and two questions popped into my head, do I hold too many ‘meetings’ and what constitutes a ‘meeting’ in the first place. The article suggests that an organisations culture can be identified by asking just a few key questions (listed in the article below) and then alludes to a third, the amount of meetings, as a parting shot. And so I have reflected, whilst in between meetings, on whether they’re a force for good or an exercise in productivity prevention.  It’s fair to say that meetings feature heavily throughout my day and both fill me with dread and excitement depending on the following factors; whose in the meeting, how long is it and what is the purpose. So here are my 5 tips to surviving organisational meeting culture.

1. Offer to help structure the meeting (especially if the organisers meetings are generally on a level with watching paint dry)

This might sound like counter productive – you’re probably thinking you’re doing someone else’s leg work but trust me you’ll have the last laugh. Helping  a colleague structure a meeting allows you to offer advice on approach, goals, agenda and invitees. The organiser will also love you for helping but be careful not to take on any accountability remember your facilitating not ‘doing’. Good meetings take less time, have focus and deliver results.

2. Avoid ‘group catch ups’

Meetings are invariably forums for exchange of information or ‘gossip’ and often involve stakeholders who rarely get to together at other times. I have been in many a meeting where senior execs will spend valuable time ‘catching up’. An agenda and a goal to be achieved at the end of the meeting is what’s needed up front to set the tone. Bringing along a more junior team member to minute take can sometimes be a useful tool to prevent ‘exec gossip’ but can stilt openness so choose wisely

3. Ask yourself, why am I invited?

If you’re only attending meetings to remain informed then this could indicate a wider issue around organisational information sharing (one I won’t be tackling now). If you’re unsure of your purpose then here’s what to do… ASK!!! Ground breaking isn’t it? My father always says to me measure twice, cut once – it’s all in the preparation. If you’re clear on why you’re invited and the expectation of your involvement you can then prepare accordingly. Again this should allow for a shorter, focused productive meeting.

4. Don’t go

This is a simple prioritisation exercise. If the meeting purpose remains unclear despite employing all of the above it may not be worth your while attending (there are many caveats to this, of course, including the meeting being with the CEO!) BUT if isn’t one of these then you could be doing something else, right?

Here’s the article that got me thinking…….

The One Question You Should Ask About Every New Job