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 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.
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:
There is a tough problem that needs to be urgently solved and there isn’t a single person who can do it on their own. Remember - your team is a creative force that can efficiently help when you are struggling with finding the correct answer on your own.
Your product needs some fresh ideas that will make it more appealing to new customers. Brainstorming in this case will bring you not only tons of new concepts, but also highlight the ones that the group considers to be really important.
You’re looking to challenge one of the new ideas crucial to the project you are all working on. Discussing this in a group may give you more creative, full-scope feedback than a series of 1:1 conversations.
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.