Why Have a Meeting, If It’s Not an Event?

We live in a time when the reason to call for and have a physical meeting needs to be considered more prudently. In many instances, meetings are simply a relic left from the days when they were critical to the consistent and successful communication that organizations, departments and colleagues needed to have in order to make sure everyone was thoroughly versed, expressed and on the same page.

Those days when we need to physically meet are dwindling. Technological wizardry is evolving each day that enables people to virtually meet via web applications, teleconferencing systems, and through other methods and gadgetry. Add to that the fact that people remote work now more than ever (and more so with each passing day)…and you have a burgeoning, voracious need and market for online tele-meetings, closely being chased and satisfied by leap-frogging, innovative IT communications advances.

But the need (or non-need) to meet, goes beyond habits and market demand fueled by remote and work anywhere/anytime attitude in our IT-enabling universe. There are also values and cultural elements in the mix. In olden times, employees were judged primarily by how carefully they listened and followed instructions (or at least respectfully seemed to) – and while that’s still a critical performance factor to this day. The brave new world of work, and the worker-manager compact, is evolving to a greater emphasis on the bottom-line results, as opposed to the process of getting the results.

In other words, managers can, and nowadays have to, rely on more remote working where less face-to-face working occurs … and where the efficiency and the ability to capture nuance and prioritize on your own plays a more pivotal role on successful performance. The ‘how’ the employee gets there, and the ‘where, when and what they looked like’ when they did the work takes a back seat to the actual output. Some people refer to this as ROWE, or Results Oriented Work Environments.

Perhaps it’s an off-shoot of a collegiate style of studying (which is in a sense, a type of ‘working”), where the professor disseminates knowledge and assignments, and then leaves the students to their own devices to come up with an end report or test results that measures proficiency and success. The point is that the days of only face-to-face meetings are numbered, because people simply can meet virtually. So is the expectation fading that the only way to get thorough company communication out among workers by meeting physically.

The newer generation of workers and their managers, where ‘worker-trust’ is in greater abundance, ‘get it’. But older managers, who grew up in a work culture where visual management and presenteeism were the underpinnings of supervision, generally don’t feel as comfortable with relying on as much trust as do their younger counterparts. They value more meetings…eyeball-to-eyeball…where they can evaluate body language and other non-verbal cues that will satisfy their worries that the message got across, or that the job will get done optimally.

Yes, meetings, their frequency and their need, have cultural and demographic factors that go into the mix. But there’s also an additional element. The newer work generations crave working in dynamic, fulfilling environments more than past generations. Older workers tended to be more conservative providers, willing to offer their loyalty more as the centerpiece of their existence, as long as they had a solid job to support themselves and/or their family over longer periods. The newer tribes don’t see themselves as working long-term for employers, so while they are employed there, they want more adventure, excitement and fun.

And part and parcel to that value and desire for a more dynamic workplace is less routine meetings – and if a meeting is even necessary, hopefully it will not be rote, but more an experience and event with something memorable and worthwhile to have gone down as a take-away.

The new litmus test for a meeting should be: A) does one really need to physically meet, or can it be handled via an on-line, virtual meeting space which saves time, possibly commuting costs/carbon emissions, and effort for all; and B) if it is critical to physically meet, will it be dynamic and interesting – perhaps including elements that will turn it into an inspiring event that can yield greater motivation, end results, and team spirit without having to sit through a physical meeting?

I realize that meetings will not go away as a communication tool, but there needs to be a shift in the mindset in how they are conducted and what occasions are important enough to hold them. As your organization evaluates meetings, and considers virtual meetings, consider other options you can cut out and substitute with high tech solutions. The world is shifting towards solutions that weren’t possible logistically or technologically ten years ago, but these solutions are becoming a fast paced standard to organizations that are quick to adapt. We will cover these topics in future posts, but keep in mind that Davinci offers some of these solutions, so after reading this post, take a look at what we offer and get your creative juices flowing in how we can help you get streamlined.

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Ray Lindenberg

Ray Lindenberg

Ray Lindenberg is President of WANY - The Workspace Association of New York, and IN-Cert - The International Cooperative of A+ Certified Workspaces; and is the Chief Consultant & Innovation Officer at the Winning Workspaces Hospitality Group.