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Fortnightly Gripes: 'meetings' edition

Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 4, 2021

Welcome to the Weekly Gripes discussion for the first half of July. Every half month, we will drop our concerns, deadends, pleas for change, etc on a selected topic. This thread will focus on: meetings.

Some thought starters:

  • Is there a way meetings are run that are cause for complaint?
  • Is there a type of meeting that you find ineffective?
  • Do you currently go to meetings that you think should be run differently?

Share your gripe! Tell us what you're experiencing. 

 


*Please remember to be respectful when responding to each other's answers. What might not be difficult for some can be extremely difficult for others. This forum is intended to provide an outlet for those experiencing respective gripes AND for members to offer support for each other.

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Dave Liao
Community Leader
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July 19, 2021

The majority of meetings in my career either don't have clear goals, or clear output/deliverables/outcomes envisioned. I'm guilty of letting this happen, and while I do my best to include agendas, pobody's nerfect. 😅

As a former PM, describing an outcome is useful to driving a meeting, and also subtly influencing a project to go the way you want it to go.

tumblr_ojym90eixm1si3gq6o1_540

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 20, 2021

Clutch gif, @Dave Liao .

Love your insight there. It works for meetings, it works for projects, and it works for all work things. If there isn't a clear goal for holding a meeting, having a practice, or doing anything related to work, then what's the point? Literally, people won't know because that point wasn't established hahaha.

And yeah, trickling out from goals can then come agendas and deliverable expectations. 

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G subramanyam
Community Leader
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July 20, 2021

There are good amount of meetings in my career I attended had no agenda. There would be adhoc meetings where some of the participants try to understand why they had been called. And by the time they realize, the meeting will be over! But, I seen, with the new collaboration tools, extensive in-house trainings and awareness, people started scheduling meaningful, short and purpose driven meetings.

So, I say knowledge on new tools have certainly played a role in bettering ourselves with meetings and collaboration.

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 20, 2021

LOL. The meetings to figure out what the meetings were about. 

And I agree with you, @G subramanyam , tools help us with reminders (especially templates) coupled with the habit-building of using the same effective practices in utilizing those tools.

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John Funk
Community Leader
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July 20, 2021

In my opinion, most status meetings are a waste of time. That's what Jira is for! If have all of your team's work on the board, then you know exactly what the status of your work is. 

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 20, 2021

Yeah. For those who really like status meetings, I'd ask: what is the purpose of the meeting and is that necessary to do live? Because you're right, @John Funk, if it's simply to know what's happening, what's the value beyond what you get from Jira tickets or other async reporting?

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Hana Kučerová
Community Leader
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July 28, 2021

I worked for a company with the strict rules, how the meeting's invitation has to look like. The description was mandatory and you needed to tell the others - why it's happening, what's the agenda and goal, if some preparation is needed, where you can find additional info and also - the most important thing for Jira lovers - to which issue you should log your time.

I think it really helped, because the organizer of the meeting really had to prepare for the meeting.

I must admit I still miss this approach :-)...

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 28, 2021

You mention best practices for meeting invites and standards, which I think are known quantities, but most companies don't actually use those standards. 

Curious, @Hana Kučerová - how did you come to see that practice adopted across your company? Was it just something culturally expected and so everyone did it? Or something else? Tell us that company's secret! hahahaha.

Hana Kučerová
Community Leader
Community Leader
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July 29, 2021

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa Yes, I absolutely agree. These things are well known, but I don't know many companies, which use them. So, I just thought that I mention them here again a hopefully somebody will find them and use :-)

Anyway, to be honest I don't remember the adoption process much, it's been years... People were allowed to reject the invitation, if it wasn't in proper format, so the organizers were literally forced to do it right, if they wanted the people on the meeting :-).

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 29, 2021

Wow. Truly was part of the culture then. Very cool!

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Suvradip Paul
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July 30, 2021

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa  - Thanks for initiating this discussion thread and thanks to others for lovely responses.

I think each and every meeting is scheduled with an intended outcome and Organiser(s) arranging the meeting like to get the outcome at the end of timebound window but exceptions are normal and it happens.

I think there should not be thumb rules/guidebook to drive meetings as participants for the meetings might be different on a case to case basis, topics might be different, Medium can be face to face or virtual but one thing is important i.e. the effectiveness of meeting throughout the period. So, the organiser need to be very cautious and try to be focused  but still there can be exceptions and organiser need to be proactive and preventive on the spot to sort out instead of being reactive and decide afterwards action plan to build guidebook for effective meetings. 

So, if someone is looking to be proactive meeting organiser, there should be action plan to deal difficult circumstances as described above. But the plan depends on the nature, people, medium and other factors of that meeting.

Cheers

Suvradip

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
July 30, 2021

We can all say meetings need to have purpose and stay on track and engage the full attendees, but it doesn't always happen as you mention @Suvradip Paul. Guidance for teams on how to run meetings is essential, so I think it's a good idea (as you alluded to) for companies to make those norms a priority. 

Also, I think meeting facilitators are underrated. Facilitating a good meeting requires skill and practice, so either the culture needs to normalize well-run meetings or there need to be roles that are trained specifically with facilitation skills. Just my opinion.

Oh, and I also hear you on action plans when arriving at bumpy parts of meetings. Too often those things are pushed to a parking lot or not addressed again. But if you action plan on something during a meeting, that's half the battle!

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Daniel Eads
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 3, 2021

Once upon a time I worked at a company that had semi-regular "all-hands" type meetings. It was someone's job to coordinate these meetings (probably good!) and send out invites. Problem was, every time there would be 3-4 cancellation/updates/reschedules based on the availability of the VPs.

Pro-tip: Make sure your presenters are available before inviting the whole company to a meeting.

In this day and age, it's also hard to imagine a meeting like that getting held up for a reason like that. Hopefully, the VPs could just switch to a pre-recorded message and a Confluence page, then distribute that via email/Slack/whatnot. Still an improvement, the VP could pre-record and the video broadcast during the pre-allotted meeting time. Live Q&A is great but there are ways to facilitate that without blasting the whole company with multiple invites and cancellations.

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 3, 2021

Whoa! Having to cancel and reschedule "all hands" meetings sounds bananas to me! I do not envy the folks who had to do that at your former company. 

Also, I like your note about "live Q&A" or something that engages attendees to ensure that the meeting couldn't have been a recorded video to pass around. Full disclosure: I'm on a team working out the different aspects that necessitate a meeting so that we can have a live debate to package into a podcast, so this is helpful input. Thanks, @Daniel Eads !

Brant Schroeder
Community Leader
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August 3, 2021

A meeting that no preparation is involved in to have is not worth having.  I am a firm believer that putting a little effort in up front prior to the meeting pays huge dividends.  Having an agenda with specific topics that everyone can come prepared to address is the way to go.

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Daniel Eads
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 3, 2021

Amen to that. Did you know you can squeeze emoji into the description fields in both Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange? 🤔 A delightful agenda with a rhyme gets people to read it, every time 🙌🏻

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 3, 2021

For sure. Bad meetings are like any bad practice and shouldn't exist. Preach!

nina_schmidt
Community Leader
Community Leader
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August 12, 2021

I can agree with all of you here - preparation, an good invitation and a tech check is mandatory. We should always ask ourself "could this be a mail/ jira task/ ... too?" before we invite for a meeting. 

 

and the worst thing: participants not listening, on mute and off camera, .... still don't have a good idea how to drag them into the light. 

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Christine P_ Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
August 12, 2021

Solidarity, @nina_schmidt

For those that need to be "dragged into the light," I've found that a) finding ways for these folks to experience the bad behavior where they are on the receiving end OR b) finding ways for folks to experience for themselves better meetings (e.g. tech checks beforehand) sometimes serves as a stronger influence than after-the-fact retros. You've probably already tried this, so just sharing here in case it helps others smile

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