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Apr 01 2016
To Meet, or Not to Meet
Erik Wright, CBF, Spectrum Engineers, Inc.

That is the question!

Outside a colleague's office inconspicuously taped to the wall, there is a tattered photocopied sign that reads: "Are you lonely? - Tired of working on your own? - Do you hate making decisions?" then in bold letters underneath says: "HOLD A MEETING!"

Your first impression of this amusing gem more than likely may cause a grin appear on your face and make you wonder where you could get a copy of it to hang in your office. The truth is most people would agree that there are too many meetings in the workplace, and that most of those meetings are a waste of time. If this is the case, you may be stuck in a vicious cycle of letdown because you have become to expect meetings to be unproductive, and so they are and so they will be.

It doesn't have to be this way. Meetings should produce valuable results not just create opportunities to see people, share charts, point with a stick, and eat donuts all while impressing your colleagues. Intuitively when you get more minds together there should be more brainpower to make better decisions and to get a broader buy-in and consensus. As Credit Managers, whether we are the ones calling the meeting or not, we need to realize that the time we spend conferencing with others is an indispensable part of our profession.

According to a Pace Productivity, Inc. study on how Credit Managers spend their time, they reported that on average a Credit Manager spends roughly 8.25% of their work week wrapped up in meetings - that equates to about 40 minutes a day. This is a significant amount of time! So how do you actually view your involvement in the meetings you attend? Is it productive or is it meaningless?


In a recent article written by Jack Welch entitled "How Those Totally Useless Meetings Can Make or Break Your Career" he asserts, as the title suggests, that you need to change your attitude fast because "complaining about meetings is an enervating exercise that serves no useful purpose and will do nothing but hurt your career." You need to come to each meeting ready to 'own it' knowing why you are there. If you go with a more positive attitude, prepared to add value, you will be able to break the vicious cycle of letdown of which you have become so accustomed. Hopefully, unlike the self-fulfilling prophecy my pessimistic colleague professes, you can instead influence others to look at meetings in a better light. 

Welch recommends that after a meeting, you should give yourself a 'mirror-test' appraisal to determine where you stand. Ask yourself these eight questions:

  1. Was my attitude energizing or enervating?

  2. Was my body language positive or negative?

  3. Did I ask great questions?

  4. Did I generate ideas?

  5. Did I use data to make a point?

  6. Did I listen to other people's thoughts effectively and build on them?

  7. Did I successfully influence the group to come to a key decision?

  8. Did I truly contribute in a positive way and leave everyone in the meeting feeling good about my participation and attitude?


Can you imagine how successful meetings could be if everyone went into meetings with the attitude that they are there to positively contribute? So when the question is 'to meet or not to meet,' look internally and recognize that you have the power to ensure that the meeting is productive or not - it could be all about attitude.