New rules for better meetings?

Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

As is becoming a tradition at 10Eighty we offer a light-hearted look at workplace culture in our Fun Friday posts.

This Fun Friday post springboards from our Team building with pizza post earlier in the year, the title influenced by Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos’ 2-Pizza Rule – ‘Never have a meeting where 2 pizzas can’t feed everyone.’

At 10Eighty we also think a ‘making up the numbers’ approach, or ‘meat in the room’ as it was infamously referred to in Armando Iannucci’s ‘In The Loop’, adopted at any meeting can lead to overlong meetings and/or underutilised attendees.

A 6-page study hall?

Although the 2 Pizza Rule seems imminently sensible, Mr Bezos has recently arrived at some new meetings rules which include a ban on the dreaded PowerPoint presentation. Great idea. But its replacement is a 6-page structured memo with real sentences, no bullet points please.

For the first 30 mins of the meeting, everyone must read through this ‘proper English’ memorandum in silence. Bezos refers to this as a ‘study hall’ but admits that the quality of memos can vary from angelic clarity to hellish complexity.

Although we’ve been having meetings at work since Year Dot, the perfect meeting continues to evade us. Here are a few alternatives that are making the rounds, which we don’t necessarily endorse:

Get a little mindful

The popularly of mindfulness has resulted in organisations asking people to reflect for a few minutes on their decisions and find out what their feelings are telling them. Evidence suggests this can help to reduce anxiety and increase focus.

However, when the Department of Health started a mindfulness programme it uncovered serious problems with restructuring and overwork and created longer meetings and working days. Next.


Take a long lunch

The death of the lunch break and the increase in eating ‘al desko’ in the UK has had a serious impact on the work environment. Research by Humanize suggests that companies that lunch together and sit in large groups, stay together as it helps to build strong social bonds. Plus, we all enjoy a good lunch, don’t we?

Shut it down

PayPal executive David Sacks used to burst into meetings and ask: ‘What is this meeting about?’ If it wasn’t any good he would close the meeting down there and then.

Although it is a radical approach if everyone had to explain the purpose of their meeting maybe we would have less wasteful meetings giving people more time at their desk to have productive thoughts and do productive work.

Cost it up

You could use the Harvard Business Review’s business meeting cost calculator to find out how much your meeting costs. This would help any meeting organiser to work it if it was worth inviting ALL those people or any at all.

Walk the talk

There’s been a trend in meetings to involve stunts like holding a plank (yes, really) doing sit-ups or getting participants to pay a fine if they overrun an arbitrary time limit.

We say keep it simple, maybe try a standing meeting or walking and talking, the latter a technique favoured by Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. Meetings can assist creative thinking so don’t rule them out completely, try to keep them short and productive.

Ditch the devices

Getting meeting attendees to leave their devices at the door is becoming a more popular meetings policy. Our smartphone, tablets and laptops can stifle concentration and laptops in particular present a physical barrier that doesn’t allow for open meetings.

Take a hard line

You may not want to follow billionaire boss Elon Musk’s lead. He has been known to walk out of meetings if he feels he is not adding value. Rather than taking a Musk-ish hard line you could suggest, before a meeting takes place, that your time would be better spent in a quiet space creating something of value.

Do you have a meetings rule?

Do you have your own rules for ensuring your meeting goes swimmingly or is very productive? We would love to hear from you – either post at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareers or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

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Posted in Employee engagement, Fun Friday, Homepage

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.


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