Face-to-face time is necessary (but doesn’t have to be evil).
No matter what kind of work you do, or where you do it, you probably attend at least some meetings. Or a lot of meetings. Either way, chances are strong you feel they’re a waste of time and resources.
But the fact is that meetings have always been and will remain a valuable tool.
Organizations need face-to-face get-togethers to help form the kinds of trusting personal relationships essential to effective teamwork.
At a good meeting, problems are shared, conflicts resolved, challenges identified and ideas brainstormed. You may get to spend time with co-workers you don’t see very often or know very well. Together, you can cover far more ground in less time than via email or other communication tools.
Meetings can be used for coordinating all sorts of activities. Everyone gets informed on important matters at the same place and time, ensuring you’re all on the same page. Of course, meetings are time-honored venues to remind people about policies and procedures, as well as to discover which policies and procedures aren’t working anymore.
Most of all, when people feel included in decision-making processes, they “buy in” to the decisions. You want this.
If you’re a leader, a meeting is a chance to recognize those doing a good job, celebrate group successes and build a sense of shared mission. The best way to get people to work together as a team is to remind them from time to time that they’re part of one, and meetings are excellent places to do just that. You can also use meetings to educate as well as to inform, introducing new technologies, policies and strategies.
All this is not to say that every meeting needs to include every one of the above features. In fact, it probably shouldn’t. The best meetings should be limited to one or two key issues, in addition to being limited in terms of time, beginning and ending on schedule. People can only take in so much information before reaching a saturation point.
Companies have tried but they’ve never managed to completely eliminate the meeting. There’s a reason for that — a significant proportion of human communication relies on facial expressions, gestures and body language. Without real-life, real-time meetings, we lose those invaluable nonverbal cues.