The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Meetings and wasting time

An important aspect of problems is that they are not always what they seem.

When teams start to complain about meetings and how they are a waste of time, it’s time to take a step back and reflect on the way the team handles meetings.

Meetings are not a waste of time per se.

However, when they are a waste of time there are reasons for that. Not always the evident ones though. This is why it’s necessary to take a step back and review what is happening from a neutral position.

Meetings are a place where the group comes together to do work. However, what this work is and how it is to be achieved is not always clear to those meeting. They might have switched to routinely come together without verifying what needs to be in the current situation and how the meeting contributes to that.

When a diverse group of people comes together, even more so, when they come from different cultures, they will have different expectations as to how a meeting needs to be run. This included the types of decisions that can be made or which of the issues can be handled in the meeting and how. The group might simply not be aware that they need to learn more about their respective habits and expectations as to how meetings can be run.

Another reason why meetings might seem to be a waste of time is given whenever the meetings serve as a means to avoid conflict. When groups start to highlight how much they appreciate one another’s work, when they focus on adding softeners to their language, or when they start to avoid difficult topics, the team may have started to wait until existing problems dissolve by themselves. There is a fine line between being respectful and appreciative about everyone’s contributions and avoidance of conflict. Beyond respectful is often marked by too much silence on important topics or appreciation that turns admirative.


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