Jeremy Bullmore: Meeting mania

Spending too much time in meetings is getting me down...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I am a project manager at a medium-sized organisation in the Midlands, where I am very happy - were it not for one factor: we have too many meetings.  It's driving me crazy, like we're being micro-managed. And the problem is I have no time to do any actual work because I spend about 80% of my day in meetings, so I end up working late to compensate. I really need to broach the subject with my line manager, but I know what she'll say: this is the way they've always done things. Help!

A: I've long believed that somebody should invent the MoneyClock. At the start of every meeting, all attendees feed a card into the machine. Each card contains the coded salary band of the individual. The Clock is started. And what it boldly registers is the progressive aggregate cost of the meeting as it stumbles and bumbles along. If everyone was aware of every meeting's cost-per-minute, I'm pretty sure that there'd soon be shorter, more productive meetings and many fewer of them.

Some line managers - and yours is clearly one of them - believe that managing has to be seen to be happening: hence all these meetings. Rather than moan to her about them, which could simply make you sound workshy, try to inspire her with a new thought: the efficient use of time and its effect on productivity. She could be the trail-blazer.

It might just do it; or some of it, anyway.

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