Cost of living9:07Why are meetings often boring?
Anyone who has worked in an office has felt it. You’ve been in a meeting for an hour and you can’t help but think, “why am I here?” Or, “Could this meeting have been an email?”
But organizational psychologist Steven Rogelberg says increasing productivity is more about making meetings better, rather than eliminating them altogether.
“The fundamental problem with meetings is bad meetings, wasted time in meetings, but the meetings themselves are not inherently the problem,” said Rogelberg, a professor at the University of North Carolina. Cost of living.
“Meetings are an evolution in terms of seeing people as important decision makers and… including people in job decisions and problem solving.”
Rogelberg could be considered a meeting expert. he is the author of Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings, and has studied meetings for two decades. She has worked with companies like Amazon and IBM to improve their meetings.
“Humans have been gathering since the beginning of time. The cave people gathered. We have meetings that have been documented as part of democracy in Greece,” Rogelberg said. “Humans meet. We meet. It’s a fundamental essence of being human.”
The Shopify Changes
Canadian tech giant Shopify has been working to reduce its meetings for the past year. Bloomberg reported that the company has started using a calculator that tells its employees how much each meeting is costing the company.
In January, they temporarily canceled all gatherings with more than two peoplewith the goal of giving employees more time to do their jobs.
“Nobody joined Shopify to sit in on meetings,” a company spokesperson told CBC in an email.
“We are a company of builders and crafters, and uptime truly is a crafter’s most important resource,” the email read. “We’ve seen positive impacts from removing meetings from calendars at the beginning of the year and asking people to be really intentional about what they add.”
But a former Shopify employee, whom CBC has agreed not to name as it looks for work in the tech industry, says he wasn’t all that productive.
According to the employee, there were “disastrous” and “tangible” impacts of not having those meetings anymore.
“The effect that they are trying to have is to reduce inefficiencies in the organization,” he said. “Those inefficiencies still exist, like people didn’t learn how to have better meetings. Instead, we just learned how to be smart.”
Rogelberg says he appreciates what Shopify was trying to do, but says the solution to lack of productivity isn’t just canceling meetings.
“I also think there should be some retraction on the sheer number of meetings, but ultimately your solution doesn’t really solve the fundamental problem of meetings.”
How to make meetings better
Rogelberg says that getting better at meetings isn’t just a quick fix. He says multiple changes and a change of focus are needed.
He points out that there are simple ways for companies to improve meetings and use employee time more efficiently.
He suggests taking a look at who is invited to each meeting. In many cases, he says, there are too many people present.
This often stems from a desire to be more inclusive, Rogelberg says, but it can also just be laziness, as technology makes it easy to invite more people. He says managers also use meetings to keep track of their employees and get updates on how much work they’re getting done.
Therefore, it can sometimes be useful to reduce the number of people invited to a meeting or to let some people leave the meeting early.
Rogelberg also suggests having a focused agenda that sets out to answer questions, rather than just a list of talking points.
“If you just can’t think of any questions, that probably means you don’t need a meeting.”