Like most CEOs, I try to focus my time on high-level decisions in my business. My team is full of capable, knowledgeable people who I trust to make the right decisions in their roles. I'm happy to review their decisions, but I'd rather not get involved in the nitty gritty.

The problem is that people typically feel the need to explain why they've made certain decisions or choices to their managers. It's only natural, but is it really necessary?

It's something every CEO should ask themselves. Are you more interested in the decision itself, or the reasoning behind the decision? And more importantly, is your team on the same page?

The most expensive word is "because."

Now, I can't say I have any stats to back this up--which is very unlike me--but I'm willing to bet that a significant percentage of time spent in meetings can be traced back to the word "because." 

Just the other day, I was in a meeting where someone was telling me why they had chosen a particular shade of blue for a new webpage we're designing. 

Now, I'm not a designer or a brand expert. To be frank, I don't really care about the colors on our website (especially as I'm colorblind). I do, however, want to know that they've made a decision on this and that this new page is (or isn't) moving forward as predicted. I want to know if anything is blocking them, if they need anything from me, or if there are any high-level questions where I could provide value.

This is something that I think many CEOs and managers experience, whether they realize it or not. And the problem is that many managers (myself included) instinctively ask their team why they've done certain things without considering whether it actually matters.

Unfortunately, if the "because" doesn't matter, it wastes everyone's time in the meeting. And that time can be expensive.

If one person wastes 10 minutes in a six-person meeting, that's really an hour of wasted time collectively. When you factor in the average hourly rate of your employees and consider the fact that this may be happening in dozens of meetings every day, the numbers get bigger. A lot bigger.

But it's not just about money. Inefficient meetings are one reason why so many people feel like they're drowning in work. If everyone's in back to back meetings, they don't have time to focus on their work and wind up having to work long hours to get everything done. It's a vicious cycle.

What do you really want to hear?

It's not like I've banned the word "because" from any meeting I attend. I realize there are situations where it makes sense for someone to explain their reasoning so I can weigh in on whether it's the right move or not. 

Here's what I've started doing.

First, I remind my team that I trust their judgment. I hired them for a reason, and they often know more about these decisions than I do. For the most part, I'm just going to assume they're making the right move and, unless it's a business-changing decision, I probably don't need to hear the reasoning behind it. If they're good with it, I'm good with it--let's not sweat the details.

Second, I'm trying to limit my use of the word "why." Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. My ADD brain will get bogged down in asking questions like why we're looking at unique website views per month instead of per week, forcing my team to explain themselves. (Sorry about that, to any of you reading.)

And third, if I do want an explanation, I'll ask them to send me the details in a Slack message or Asana task. That way, I can review it when it's convenient for me and we're not wasting everyone else's time in the meeting with lengthy explanations that may not be relevant to them.

Now that I've told you this, just wait--you're going to hear the word "because" all the time. So next time you're in a meeting, keep track of how many times "because" is used, and how many of them are warranted. It might surprise you.