When should I REALLY call a meeting?

By Mikołaj Więckowski

When should I REALLY call a meeting?

Meetings are tricky. Some folks love them, because they consider it a break time from work, during which they can sit in their chair for an hour or two, sip their coffee, and - in some cases - also pick a cookie every few minutes.

Others, however, hate the meetings. They consider them a waste of time, loss of one or two hours they could dedicate to improving what they were working on.

And this second group has a point. Yes, meetings sometimes are necessary, but a lot of organizations are just overdoing them.

And the effects? Tons of hours wasted on talks that could have been shortened by using e-mail, Slack, or other way of quick, non-distractive communication.

The question is then: when should you REALLY call a meeting?

You can state the purpose of the meeting in one sentence

You really need that one. If you can state a clear purpose of the meeting in one sentence, this definitely makes you way closer to deciding whether this meeting should really happen.

So what can this one sentence be?

We are meeting because we are failing to deliver what we promised third week in a row.

We are meeting because I have doubts you are fully dedicated to your work.

We are meeting because there is a new important task that we need to focus on ASAP.

You have something important that needs a group discussion

Sometimes you need to make a decision in a group. If that is the case, you need to be clear about it up front, so that everyone knows what decision needs to be made and they can prepare accordingly. Making decisions in a group is not always the best approach though, so make sure it fits with your decision making strategy before calling that meeting.

Another case that begs for a group discussion is brainstorming. Some of the most important reasons for setting up a brainstorming session include situations when:

You want to keep your team on the same page

Regular meetings are what many process frameworks (like Scrum) suggest to do to keep the team together. And they are right! But that’s not the only good thing about having a regular meeting.

Having a recurring meeting (with an agenda), gives people a forum to open up and discuss all the important current issues. That in turn helps to avoid gossip and misunderstandings, or longer, unexpected meetings.