We Need More Meetings at Work

Paul Hebert Audacious Ideas, Communication, Culture, Employee Engagement, Employment Branding and Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, HR, Paul Hebert, Social Media

I know – lock me up. While everyone else is finding ways to dodge meetings I’m raising the flag that says in order to do better business we need to do more meetings.

See, I’m not one to throw babies out with bathwater. I like to first see if the bathwater is really dirty or if we’re simply looking for scapegoats and bogey men to blame for our lack of progress at work. Whether that be employee recognition programs, employee engagement fails or… yep… you guessed it… meetings.

There have been more words written about the monumental waste of time meetings are than can be found in War and Peace. But the real truth is that meetings serve a purpose and just because someone does “meetings” poorly doesn’t mean we should eliminate them. But meetings are important. They serve a purpose.

Meetings Are Human

If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the last few years on this site or my own company site, you know that our mission has been to help companies be more human at work and help people focus on the whole person and not just a “human resource.”

And face-to-face conversations are a really human thing.

Sure we can text, email, twitter, twatter, snap and pop – but we’re not really connecting on a human level. We’re just passing bits and bytes and proxies for real meaning.

I am reminded of an article from the New York Times a few years back by Sherry Turkle called “The Flight From Conversation” in which she said:

“We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being ‘alone together.’ Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.”

As a manager in a company – and more importantly – as a manager in the HR function of a company – helping define, support and advance a corporate culture requires that people be invested in that culture. People need to be a part of, and share, the culture of the organization; otherwise your culture simply defaults to words on a framed piece of faux parchment.

Culture does not exist without the sharing of it with other human beings.

Meetings help us have conversations. Meetings help us share and reinforce ideas. Conversations are where we find meaning and where we find reason. Data driven by our use of technology can help point us in general directions for further study – but it cannot interpret the data like a good human conversation. One that gets to the root of something just below the surface behind the impulsive click and send.

I submit that while the rest of the world – including your competition – searches for the holy grail of technology that will ultimately allow an organization to “function’ with ZERO human interaction – you can get further and have a more connected organization by having more face-to- face experiences with your employees.

I’ve said this so many times I am becoming a caricature of myself…

Human beings need to be effective not efficient.

When we focus on making humans efficient we lose a bit of our humanity and our ability to feel empathy and sympathy. Losing those traits, I believe, makes us less effective as an organization.

As long as we allow our people to connect – but not connect – our corporate culture takes a back seat to the “tribe of one.”

Have a few more meetings. You can blame them on me.