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(Guardian)   Do you think meetings at work are a soul-sucking waste of time? Well they're even worse than that   (theguardian.com) divider line 114
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4887 clicks; posted to Business » on 01 May 2014 at 8:33 PM (50 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-01 07:56:25 PM  
Tell me something I don't know.
 
2014-05-01 08:04:47 PM  
Try meetings that generate a week worth of follow up documentation to handle the stupid questions that are asked by people who aren't qualified to be there.
 
2014-05-01 08:15:31 PM  
At my advertising agency, the account teams excuse for why they're late for all our meetings is "I was in a meeting".

/that's the excuse about 95% of the time, also which is why they can be never be found. To me, it's a lousy excuse.
 
2014-05-01 08:47:08 PM  
Monday Morning Quarterbackingon Thursday night? I used to love those.
 
2014-05-01 08:50:24 PM  
Need to justify the man-hours.

Not only the time taken.
But the benefits of coordination to reduce time for execution.
 
2014-05-01 09:02:57 PM  
Write a goddamn memo.

/firm believer in the memo
 
2014-05-01 09:21:17 PM  
If our meetings would escalate to the level of soul-sucking, I'd be ecstatic.
 
2014-05-01 09:26:32 PM  
Meetings: Usually.

Conference calls: Always.
 
2014-05-01 09:55:34 PM  
Meetings can be useful with a good facilitator running the meeting.

I'm not a good facilitator, so I try very hard to keep them short and not get off on tangents.
 
2014-05-01 09:58:19 PM  
My boss used to hold an hour-long meeting every day to ask why we were behind schedule.
 
2014-05-01 10:02:31 PM  

bingethinker: My boss used to hold an hour-long meeting every day to ask why we were behind schedule.


Amateur.

I had a project boss who had s weekly meeting to discuss our "work plans" for that week.

He wouldn't accept "spend all week putting out the client's fires" as a work plan.

Oh he also never told me what the acceptable format for a work plan was.
 
2014-05-01 10:10:02 PM  

AspectRatio: Meetings: Usually.

Conference calls: Always.


A day without a conference call is like a day without sunshine.

/3 tomorrow
// Hooray! \m/
 
2014-05-01 10:21:44 PM  
At my current firm, holding meetings is the only way to get things done.

And what the article said is true.

In theory, that shouldn't be possible. But it is.

/if I just tore a hole in the universe, sorry
 
2014-05-01 10:24:40 PM  
When I still worked, I spent anywhere from 20 to 40% of my workdays in long, and for me unneeded meetings at which none of the project work actually got done but at the end of the two hour meeting that lasted six,mthey wanted to know how soon I would be finished.

Sadly, I could not explain that every hour I spent out of the office was an hour I did not get to actually DO THE WORK.  Meetings are such a waste of productive time.
 
2014-05-01 10:46:15 PM  
Jesus. That's an employee's entire lifetime productive contribution. every week.
 
2014-05-01 10:56:55 PM  

bmwericus: When I still worked, I spent anywhere from 20 to 40% of my workdays in long, and for me unneeded meetings at which none of the project work actually got done but at the end of the two hour meeting that lasted six,mthey wanted to know how soon I would be finished.

Sadly, I could not explain that every hour I spent out of the office was an hour I did not get to actually DO THE WORK.  Meetings are such a waste of productive time.


Not that I personally think this way, but I could picture some middle managers reading your post and going, "I get why that guy is unrmployed."

Every boss I've ever had considered your clock stopping at the start of the meeting and resuming when it's over, meaning you have to make up that for that lost productive time.
 
2014-05-01 11:26:51 PM  
I despise meetings. They are the biggest waste of time since the concept of wasting time was invented. My company is obsessed with frickin meetings, meetings that could be conducted in 10 minutes that they stretch into an hour because "hey, we booked the room", meetings that could be covered in 2 or 3 emails, and worst of all- meetings where they fly everyone to Minneapolis or San Fran or Tampa for a week to cover 4 hours worth of crap. I would say more, but Hey I've got a meeting...

Seriously, I have 2 tomorrow. Shoot me now.

HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE meetings
 
2014-05-01 11:55:02 PM  

Cold soup: bmwericus: When I still worked, I spent anywhere from 20 to 40% of my workdays in long, and for me unneeded meetings at which none of the project work actually got done but at the end of the two hour meeting that lasted six,mthey wanted to know how soon I would be finished.

Sadly, I could not explain that every hour I spent out of the office was an hour I did not get to actually DO THE WORK.  Meetings are such a waste of productive time.

Not that I personally think this way, but I could picture some middle managers reading your post and going, "I get why that guy is unrmployed."

Every boss I've ever had considered your clock stopping at the start of the meeting and resuming when it's over, meaning you have to make up that for that lost productive time.


Middle manager?  Hey, I owned the company at the end and the SOB's still wasted my time.  And you know what?  I hope they all miss me, but fact is, the trade I was in was dying.  I made a pile of money and retired.  And yea, I did make up that time, usually with a month of 120 hour weeks between T-day and Christmas, because everyone needed it "By the End of the Year!" and when you have 8 projects with the same deadline.

Best time I EVER had was telling clients when they called that no, I could NOT give them a proposal and that they were NOT going to have me to kick around anymore - I retired on a month's notice at age 47.  No more useless meetings for me, if you want a meeting with me, you can meet me on the chairlift or at the range, or out doing something much more interesting than having my soul sucked out for money.

You want the best revenge?  This is it, all those 'hole are still working for a living.
 
2014-05-02 12:44:27 AM  
Oh, comon.  If we really valued work over talk, we'd go work as a cashier at McDonald's.  Or the guy that comes by to vacuum at 6 PM.

Perpetual meetings where no real work gets done are our privilege.  But, oh, it sucks!  Meetings suck!

You'd rather be a roofer?
 
2014-05-02 02:35:23 AM  
The other problem with meetings:  The dumbest sonofabiatch in the room is, without fail, also the most long-winded, and "shutting up now", is not in his vocabulary.  Most of the time they're rules-lawyers too...god help you if you are in a company that believes in Roger's Rules of Order. because that bastard is going to game the rules so that he can keep talking.
 
2014-05-02 04:35:15 AM  
Meetings are better than the TRUE biggest waste of time in the work place - 30 page long email strings.

I almost always find setting up a brief meeting to discuss an issue is infinitely more productive than email after email about it.
 
2014-05-02 05:10:24 AM  
img.fark.net
 
2014-05-02 06:00:39 AM  

sendtodave: Oh, comon.  If we really valued work over talk, we'd go work as a cashier at McDonald's.  Or the guy that comes by to vacuum at 6 PM.

Perpetual meetings where no real work gets done are our privilege.  But, oh, it sucks!  Meetings suck!

You'd rather be a roofer?


Sometimes I think I'd rather be a bus driver. Getting paid for doing nothing means I'm wasting my life.
 
2014-05-02 07:10:44 AM  

sendtodave: Oh, comon.  If we really valued work over talk, we'd go work as a cashier at McDonald's.  Or the guy that comes by to vacuum at 6 PM.

Perpetual meetings where no real work gets done are our privilege.  But, oh, it sucks!  Meetings suck!

You'd rather be a roofer?


This may come as a shock to you (And may also explain a lot of things about people's worldviews, actualy), but a large number of people *want to be productive*. They *WANT* to feel useful. <i> It feels good</i>. There are a staggering ammount of people who <i>enjoy doing a good job</i>, if they're given an opportunity to do so.
 
2014-05-02 07:16:42 AM  

Ishidan: The other problem with meetings:  The dumbest sonofabiatch in the room is, without fail, also the most long-winded, and "shutting up now", is not in his vocabulary.  Most of the time they're rules-lawyers too...god help you if you are in a company that believes in Roger's Rules of Order. because that bastard is going to game the rules so that he can keep talking.


Amen, brother.  Went to a new job, and part of the description was to handle the weekly staff meeting.  Silly me, I thought I was to set the agenda, and keep us moving and get done so that everyone could get back to their stuff, new projects in hand.  No, my real job was to keep the boss from ever actually having a meeting, because they were the substitute therapy sessions the boss desperately needed.  The friggin building could be on fire, but the boss would want to 'process' thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc., anything but actually call the fire department.  I learned really quickly to 'schedule' the staff meeting on the days and times the boss wanted to leave early for golf.
 
2014-05-02 08:21:07 AM  
I once had a boss that had an hour long pep-talk meeting every week. He'd get all the staff in a room, rahrahrah about how well the company was doing, relate to us the most recent lesson he learned from reading articles about Southwest Airlines and how what they did applied to our business (it was a training company, so about as far from "airline" as you can get). Once he hired the founder of Famous Amos cookies to come in and give us the pep talk.

All of that is bad enough, but that's not the worst part. These meetings were held a 4:30PM on a Friday, and always started 15-30 minutes late.
 
2014-05-02 08:21:40 AM  
Nonsense.  My team meets every day to discuss issues and directives.  Have to when you're a 24/7 follow the sun shop....no other way to keep the train rolling down the track.

/get out of my cubicle
 
2014-05-02 08:23:12 AM  

bingethinker: My boss used to hold an hour-long meeting every day to ask why we were behind schedule.


My old boss kept 12 of us (non-salaried) after hours for a two hour meeting to discuss why we had so much overtime.

We also once had a meeting to discuss what the next meeting would be about.
 
2014-05-02 08:49:56 AM  

Felgraf: sendtodave: Oh, comon.  If we really valued work over talk, we'd go work as a cashier at McDonald's.  Or the guy that comes by to vacuum at 6 PM.

Perpetual meetings where no real work gets done are our privilege.  But, oh, it sucks!  Meetings suck!

You'd rather be a roofer?

This may come as a shock to you (And may also explain a lot of things about people's worldviews, actualy), but a large number of people *want to be productive*. They *WANT* to feel useful. <i> It feels good</i>. There are a staggering ammount of people who <i>enjoy doing a good job</i>, if they're given an opportunity to do so.


So, quit your well paying office job and go do something productive!
 
2014-05-02 08:56:45 AM  

Lt. Cheese Weasel: Have to when you're a 24/7 follow the sun shop....no other way to keep the train rolling down the track.


You could try setting up a collaborative system on something like Sharepoint or even just Google Docs that allows your team members to share pertinent information from a single point of collection and disbursement. It takes a dedicated effort to designing it properly in the beginning and everyone has to be dedicated to using it as intended, but it can save a lot of time over a regular meeting. We have software devs and tech support in different time zones and that's how we keep them up to date instead of having any one person responsible for collecting and updating the day's changes.

But, like I said, the initial effort invested can be a bit daunting and it really requires dedication and buy-in from everybody who will be using it.
 
2014-05-02 08:59:53 AM  
Just make sure you have an expert!

It is incredibly scary how often meetings end up like this.  2 hour meetings where in the last 5 minutes, I'm told that no mater what laws of physics needed to be broken, I had to finish the project because that's what our sales team promised and sold the customer.

I adopted the catch phase "Of course I can do that, I can do ANYTHING!" years before even seeing this video.
 
2014-05-02 09:08:24 AM  
When I was younger, I remember our department manager calling a meeting once per month to discuss what meetings we should have for the next month.
 
2014-05-02 09:09:10 AM  
3 X a week, first thing  at 8:00 a.m we would attend 10 minute stand up meetings. These were short round the room verbal briefs that lasted only a few minutes and everyone was standing (to keep the meeting short).

They eventually devoloved into 1.5 hour sit down presentations with slides, weekly birthday annoucements, detailed design discussions, HR tips, talks about pizza parties....anything. it suuuuuuuuuucked.

Sir, why are we sitting in our Stand ups?

Shut up Johhny
 
2014-05-02 09:11:18 AM  

sendtodave: So, quit your well paying office job and go do something productive!


I have no idea what point you think you're making. Whatever time I waste in meetings it is less time than I ultimately spend being productive. The fact that meetings don't waste ALL my time, however, does not mean I am not annoyed by the time they do waste.

If YOU want to be a shiftless, lazy bastard who enjoys the "privilege" of sitting idle in a meeting like a lump on a log, I'd say that makes YOU the problem, not those of us who are aggravated by your insipid need to hear yourself talk at an oak table.
 
2014-05-02 09:12:39 AM  
Most of the hour plus meetings I was forced to endure can be handled with a 5 minute discussion between me and no more than 2 other people. A project manager and the person doing the work. Now that I manage my own team, meetings are at an all time low, people go home on-time, and work gets done mostly ahead of schedule. Sadly, people see my team leaving on time, get pissed and I would imagine I will get called into the managing directors office soon for a "do you guys not have enough work to do?" discussion. At which time I might just tender my resignation and take my skills elsewhere.

Theres a better way people!
 
2014-05-02 09:17:25 AM  

skozlaw: Lt. Cheese Weasel: Have to when you're a 24/7 follow the sun shop....no other way to keep the train rolling down the track.

You could try setting up a collaborative system on something like Sharepoint or even just Google Docs that allows your team members to share pertinent information from a single point of collection and disbursement. It takes a dedicated effort to designing it properly in the beginning and everyone has to be dedicated to using it as intended, but it can save a lot of time over a regular meeting. We have software devs and tech support in different time zones and that's how we keep them up to date instead of having any one person responsible for collecting and updating the day's changes.

But, like I said, the initial effort invested can be a bit daunting and it really requires dedication and buy-in from everybody who will be using it.


We have that already.  It's not enough.  When dealing with India, a straight face to face is the only thing that works. We don't waste time in our daily.  It's the burning issues, what's next and done.
 
2014-05-02 09:22:39 AM  

Driedsponge: Just make sure you have an expert!


That was really well done.

It's amazing how many people in a meeting miss 25% of the point being made and take things into tangent arguments
 
2014-05-02 09:27:05 AM  

BEER_ME_in_CT: Most of the hour plus meetings I was forced to endure can be handled with a 5 minute discussion between me and no more than 2 other people. A project manager and the person doing the work. Now that I manage my own team, meetings are at an all time low, people go home on-time, and work gets done mostly ahead of schedule. Sadly, people see my team leaving on time, get pissed and I would imagine I will get called into the managing directors office soon for a "do you guys not have enough work to do?" discussion. At which time I might just tender my resignation and take my skills elsewhere.

Theres a better way people!


You're a good manager. Rule of thumb: Only have meetings when absolutely necessary, otherwise handle things on quick calls, memos, or 1 on 1 conversations. Most meeting lovers just love to hear their own bullshiat out loud, and meetings force others to listen to them, or at least act like they are.
 
2014-05-02 09:38:48 AM  

happydude45: BEER_ME_in_CT: Most of the hour plus meetings I was forced to endure can be handled with a 5 minute discussion between me and no more than 2 other people. A project manager and the person doing the work. Now that I manage my own team, meetings are at an all time low, people go home on-time, and work gets done mostly ahead of schedule. Sadly, people see my team leaving on time, get pissed and I would imagine I will get called into the managing directors office soon for a "do you guys not have enough work to do?" discussion. At which time I might just tender my resignation and take my skills elsewhere.

Theres a better way people!

You're a good manager. Rule of thumb: Only have meetings when absolutely necessary, otherwise handle things on quick calls, memos, or 1 on 1 conversations. Most meeting lovers just love to hear their own bullshiat out loud, and meetings force others to listen to them, or at least act like they are.


Also, if it takes more than a couple e-mails to understand an issue, pick up the telephone.
 
2014-05-02 09:40:00 AM  
The only things that come out of meetings, are the same a-holes that went into them.
 
2014-05-02 09:41:51 AM  
www.volkside.com
 
2014-05-02 09:42:22 AM  

Lt. Cheese Weasel: When dealing with India....


Ah. And again I thank my lucky stars that's a problem we don't have.
 
2014-05-02 09:52:57 AM  
The only thing worse is sitting here waiting for other's meetings to end while you wait on approval to perform tasks. It's bloody annoying.
 
2014-05-02 09:55:27 AM  

skozlaw: Lt. Cheese Weasel: When dealing with India....

Ah. And again I thank my lucky stars that's a problem we don't have.


I hate to say it, but it puts them on the spot in front of the rest of the team and keeps them accountable.  I can't make people care, but I can make them look bad thru actions of their own.
 
2014-05-02 10:04:44 AM  

sendtodave: So, quit your well paying office job and go do something productive!


I'm a physics grad student. "Well paying" is about as close to me as Sirius A is.

/And I was objecting to your claim that people should be happy wasting time not doing work.
 
2014-05-02 10:10:18 AM  
I'm not much of a Dave Barry fan, but that's a great quote.
 
2014-05-02 10:10:32 AM  

skozlaw: sendtodave: So, quit your well paying office job and go do something productive!

I have no idea what point you think you're making.


Most people have to work hard -- physically hard -- for shiatty, low paying jobs.

People that are paid to sit in air conditioned offices to stare at computer screens, already chose a lazy job.  And they complain even about that!

Want to do something productive?  Quite your easy job and go do something productive!  Don't pretend that office work is productive.
 
2014-05-02 10:12:18 AM  

Felgraf: sendtodave: So, quit your well paying office job and go do something productive!

I'm a physics grad student. "Well paying" is about as close to me as Sirius A is.

/And I was objecting to your claim that people should be happy wasting time not doing work.


Do you make more than the guy who has to lug around a string trimmer in the hot sun?  Do you make more than the assembly line worker?

Do you make more than a Chinese assembly line worker?

Then you are well paid.
 
2014-05-02 10:17:33 AM  

sendtodave: People that are paid to sit in air conditioned offices to stare at computer screens, already chose a lazy job.


I'm sure you were a riot back in 1883.
 
2014-05-02 10:18:55 AM  
A co-worker and I worked up a dog & pony show for a system redesign meeting geared toward moving from a mainframe environment to client-server.  We devised a few screen mock-ups as proposals to bring the system into the 21st Century.

Unfortunately, the dinosaurs (mainframe programmers) had that deer in the headlights look and resisted everything.  One suggestion was the use of collapsible tree menus, which are used on many other COTS products of the standard work desktop.

"Tree menus?  I don't know about that.  I think that will pose a training issue with the users."

I kid you not, that devolved into a 10 minute debate, among five people, as to whether or not our users have the intelligence to understand tree menus.  We just sat in disbelief until one of us pointed out that the users are cognizant of this feature as it's prevalent in Lotus Notes.

Queue another five minute debate, which is then rehashed for another 10 minutes at the end of the meeting.

It was later decided we would stick with 1970s design methodologies by using menu driven screens....on a visual platform.  And the other team we are to interface with (which is populated with these rocket surgeons) is designing their own popup warning boxes.
 
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