Kate Hawkesby: Why the best meetings are fleeting

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COMMENT
I was fascinated to read Bruce Cotterill's recent article on meetings.
Cotteril is a company director and advisor to business leaders.
He's also the author of the book, The Best Leaders Don't Shout and he says, of meetings, we're spending too much time in them and many of them are pointless.
I agree.
I have long been a believer that meetings are a waste of time. Literally. You are wasting so much time with small talk, generic spit-balling of ideas, going down off-topic rabbit warrens - and coming away with very few tangible outcomes.
It's possibly why I find this Government so cumbersome in its approach, which appears to be all meetings, reviews, working groups and committees.
Seriously, it's time and money wasting. It also lacks fundamental trust.
If, as a leader, you believe you've hired the right person for the job, then why can't they do their job? Why can't they be left to exhibit the expertise you clearly hired them for?
Yet we sit - endlessly - in brightly lit, sparse white rooms, with lukewarm coffee, and chewy muffins, just filling in time.
To the credit of the company I work for. We don't. Not at my low level in this operation anyway.
I'm sure the executives have their fair share, but here on the shop floor, our direct management seems to have worked out that "talent" are usually short on attention span.
We have limited endurance for meetings and, luckily, we don't seem to get roped into them and bogged down in them too often.
In fact, my boss sprung one on us the other day so deftly, we didn't even know it was happening.
He casually said to my producer and I in the newsroom, "grab a seat", so we did, in the hope he was going to spill something juicy. Before we knew it, we had spreadsheets popped into our hands and graphs with numbers on them and a company blurb with photos, which he waved about.
He said some stuff at pace as he waved the papers around, gave about three bullet points, and then about four minutes later said, "that's it... cool... have a great day".
Now that's a meeting.
That's my kind of meeting. The kind where you don't even know it happened. The kind where you didn't even need to get out a pen.
I'm sure companies could be more productive if they trusted their people to consume bite-size bits of information, take away some spreadsheets to read later and let them actually get on with their day.
I have no doubt there are some people who love meetings. (Those who're either bored at work, or like a communal lolly mix and a warm coffee.)
But most of us are busy trying to do our jobs to the best of our abilities, not spend endless hours talking about it.

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