Managerial roles produce two kinds of meetings.
In the first kind of meeting, is process-oriented, knowledge is shared and information is exchanged. Such meetings should take place on a regular basis.
The purpose of the second kind of meeting is to solve a specific problem. They are mission-oriented and should produce a decision. They are ad hoc affairs, not scheduled long in advance, because they usually can’t be.
To make the most of this kind of meeting, we should aim to infuse it with regularity. In other words, the people attending should know how the meeting is run, what kinds of matters are discussed, and what is to be accomplished. It should be designed to allow a manager to “batch” transactions, to use the same “production” set-up time and effort to take care of many similar managerial tasks. Moreover, given the regularity, you and the others attending can begin to forecast the time required for the kinds of work to be done. Hence, a “production control” system, as recorded on various calendars, can take shape, which means that a scheduled meeting will have minimum impact on other things people are doing. Exemples of process-oriented meeting:
Unlike a process-oriented meeting, which is a regulary scheduled, the mission-oriented meeting is usually held ad-hoc and is designed to produce a specific output, most of the time, a decision. The key to success here is what the meeting owner does. The meeting owner is the one person usually who has more at stake in the outcome of the meeting than others. In fact, it is usually him who calls the meeting, and most of what he contributes should occur before it begins. All too often he shows up as if he were just another attendee and hopes that things will develop as he wants. When a mission-oriented meeting fails to accomplish the purpose for which it was called, the blame belongs to the meeting owner.
The meeting owner must have a clear understanding of the meeting’s objectives–what needs to happen and what decision has to be made. The absolute truth is that if you don’t know what you want, you won’t get it. So before calling a meeting, ask yourself: What am I trying to ac-complish? Then ask, is a meeting necessary? Or desirable? Or justifiable? Don’t call a meeting if all the answers aren’t yes. Moreover, think the meeting as a play, you may have to do rehearsals and prepare in advance to secure yeses and make sure your meeting goes as planned.
An estimate of the dollar cost of a people’s time, including overhead, is about $100 per hour. So a meeting involving ten peoples for two hours costs the company $2,000. Yet, in most company, expenditures of $2,000 have to be approved in advance by senior people- like buying a computer or making a conference trip–yet anyone can call a meeting and commit $2,000 worth of resources at a whim. So even if you’re just an invited participant, you should ask yourself if the meeting-and your attendance–is desirable and justified.
Determine the purpose of a meeting before committing your time and your company’s resources. Get it called off early, at a low-value-added stage, if a meeting makes no sense, and find a less costly way (a one-on-one meeting, a telephone call, a note) to pursue the matter.
Assuming the meeting does need to be held, the meeting owner faces a set of obligations. The first one has to do with attendance.You must identify who should attend and then try to get those people to come.
It is not enough to ask people and hope for the best; you need to follow up and get commitments. If someone invited can’t make it himself, see to it that he sends a person with the power to speak for him.
How much people should be in a meeting?
Keep in mind that a meeting called to make a specific decision is hard to keep moving if more than six or seven people attend. Eight people should be the absolute cutoff. Decision-making is not a spectator sport, because people on the bench get in the way of what needs to be done.
The meeting owner is also responsible for maintaining discipline. It is criminal for him to not allow people to be late and waste everyone’s time. Do not worry about confronting late arriver.
The meeting owner should finally be responsible for logistical matters. He should, for example, make sure that all necessary and audiovisual equipment is present in the meeting room. He should also send out an agenda that clearly states the purpose of the meeting, as well as what role everybody there is expected to play to get the desired output.
Ideally, a manager should never have to call an ad hoc, mission-oriented meeting, because if all runs smoothly, everything is taken care of in regularly scheduled, pro-cess-oriented meetings. In practice, however, if all goes well, routine meetings will take care of maybe 80 percent of the problems and issues; the remaining 20 percent will still have to be dealt with in mission-oriented meetings.
Peter Drucker said that if people spend more than 25 percent of their time in meetings, it is a sign of malorganization.