Kill that meeting bug!

How I fight the infectious disease of meeteritis

More often than not when I start engaging with a new client scheduling the first meeting seems a challenge for the leader. And indeed, if you look into the diaries of these people they are overcrowded with all sorts of meetings, even overlapping ones. 

Yes, I am fully aware that the workload of each and every person in an organisation, at all levels, has continuously increased over the last decade. And at the same time the number of meetings people participate in has almost grown exponentially.


Don't accept every meeting invitation. Kill that meeting bug!


Here is an approach almost all of these leaders have developed for themselves as a way out of their overcrowded diary situation:  

Challenge the need to accept each meeting invitation with a specific set of questions. 

Why do I think this is a way forward? Let me explain where this insight is coming from and what the specific questions are in a bit more detail.

Over the years of my coaching practice I regularly encountered issues leaders are facing that have been related to their ever increasing number of meetings . In one coaching assignment it took about three months before the leader could find a free spot in his diary for our first meeting. The objectives for this coaching assignment were not about time management but about his competencies on strategic thinking and influencing. During the analysis it turned out that he had absolutely no time for strategic thinking as his diary was overflowing with meetings. In the course of the discussion it became clear that his basic assumption was: if I’m invited to a meeting it must be important and I have to attend.


Here is some input from an expert

There is also a very interesting TED talk from David Grady with the title: “How to Save the World (or at least yourself) from Bad Meetings“.  He reports seeing the issue all over the place that people seem to accept meeting invitations without even thinking about them. He calls it MAS, mindless acceptance syndrome. The key message in his talk is a pledge for “No-MAS”.


How does it work in practice?

So how can you really challenge invitations which are filling up your diary week by week? The above mentioned client developed a specific strategy. To decide whether or not to accept a meeting invitation he is asking himself the following four questions:

  • What outcomes are defined for this meeting, are these relevant for my area?
  • What is on the meeting agenda that requires me to attend?
  • What value can I contribute to this meeting through my presence?
  • Who of my team could attend instead and maybe add the same or more value?

After he implemented this strategy, within weeks, his diary opened up and created more space for strategic thinking. He used the extra time for maintaining and growing his professional network which helped him tremendously on influencing the organisation.

Although this may not be a cure for all malaise in organisations, however, it might be a good starting point for you as a leader to create more focus and be more rigorous or ruthless with your time and how you spend it.

Do you feel like discussing this in more depth? Feel free to contact me direct.



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