I have a confession to make: I've learned to love meetings.
They are the highlight of my day, actually.
Really smart people all in a room, communicating about ideas and projects in an electrifying fashion. A communal sense of belonging, where the free exchange of positive feedback is the norm. The wonderful sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself. The free donuts and bagels arrayed before us.
It's a problem, I know--and I need help.
Recently, a colleague here at Inc.com wrote about how Elon Musk advises Tesla employees about meetings. Musk sent an email stating to not hold large meetings, that those who do not add value should leave, and that meetings should be infrequent.
I tend to agree on not holding large meetings (they are pointless for reasons I will explain in a bit) and that having the right people there makes sense.
I have an issue about the frequency of meetings, because once you establish a rapport with employees and figure out how to hold effective and possibly spontaneous meetings, I prefer holding them as often as needed.
This wasn't always true.
Meetings during my corporate days were a mindless slog through status updates and inane commentary about project minutiae.
I couldn't wait for them to end. As an IT director, I was part of some meetings with other management types that felt like we were watching plants grow.
Then, I started mentoring college students.
Meetings are now entertaining, informative, and helpful. They are spirited, and they are short. I might be part of six of them on the day I'm visiting, and the participants have energy and enthusiasm that's hard to ignore. Also, the jokes are pretty funny.
At one recent meeting involving a web design project, someone suggested this new logo for a website: a chicken pops out of a coffee cup. I mean, that's not something you discuss every day, right? Meetings can spice up your workday.
Of course, this all assumes that meetings are incredibly effective, and I am not suggesting anyone hold more meetings just to serve more bagels and spend idle time in chit-chat. Highly productive meetings that advance a project or company objectives effectively are worth it, and if the meeting is actually worth having, it will probably be short and effective.
Having large groups of people in a meeting is counterproductive--you can't freely exchange ideas with 75 people in a room the size of an airport hangar, and you can't build rapport with total strangers. The trick is to hold short, frequent meetings to encourage communication and collaboration, make them fun, and keep things light, airy, and productive.
You can't beat a meeting for team building.
And let's be honest: We're there for the donuts anyway.