Let’s say the manager of a high-profile project sends you a calendar invite to his “Weekly Team Meeting”. You’re a Director–the PM doesn’t usually invite you. But you know the project timeline is slipping. So you’re pretty sure the purpose of this meeting, and the reason to attend, is to figure out how to get the project back on schedule.
You think, “The PM probably wants some additional resources.”
So you make a few calls, put some feelers out to other Directors. You come up with alternate resources that can jump in. At the meeting, you talk about them. But the PM quickly tells you what’s needed isn’t additional resources. It’s different resources: technical expertise is lacking and that’s what’s slowing the project down.
Only five minutes into the meeting, you realize your valuable time and energy has been wasted. And your fellow Directors’ time and effort has been wasted, too.
The subject line on the invite reads, “Project Schedule Delays: Determine Technical Resources Needed”. Since your role is to remove obstacles, you think, “Sounds like I’m not needed at this meeting.” You text the Project Manager, “Do you need me to attend? If so, what do you want me to contribute?”
The PM replies you’re invited only as a courtesy, not a necessity. Kudos–that’s one less meeting for you.
Align Your Efforts with the Meeting Purpose
Let’s say the PM replies, “Yes, we need you to attend to understand the issues. We need your help removing some barriers.”
Your advance efforts, and that of your fellow Directors, and your participation in the meeting will help achieve the intended outcomes.
- When everyone aligns their individual efforts with a meeting’s purpose, you make the best use of valuable meeting time.
- When you’re invited to a meeting, be sure you understand the specific purpose so you know how to effectively contribute to it.
- When you call a meeting, clearly define the purpose in the subject line of the calendar invite so everyone invited can align their individual efforts to that purpose.
If purpose isn’t explicitly stated in advance, a meeting is far more likely to:
- Go “off track”.
- Create frustration.
- Run over time.
- Generate unproductive conflict.