Thursday, September 27, 2012
Weekly Meetings: Yes or No?
Meetings are an important aspect to any business or team. They allow a team and its managers to stay informed on the current and future happenings of a project. Also, meetings offer a time where any pressing issues can be discussed and solutions can be thought out. In class we discussed many methods to ensure a meeting will be value added and not just a waste of time. We discussed techniques like using agendas to maintain order and how to solve inter-team conflicts. However, one topic that was briefly discussed was the importance and value of weekly meetings. While the benefits of having weekly meetings are somewhat obvious, there are times when weekly meetings can actually hurt productivity.
During my internship with Flextronics, I would attend three meetings every week: staff, zero defects, and production. The meetings were all separated by a day and each one had its own agenda. The meetings were scheduled for an hour and fifteen minutes but sometimes were let out early. They were productive for the most part, and things got done. During these meetings, my input was valued and heard but was rarely asked for because I was just an intern. I understood my position and assumed the role of being more of an observer.
As I sat in on meetings, I was able to really get an understanding of how they were handled and what everybody’s’ feelings about the meetings were. I noticed a common link between all of the engineers: nobody ever wanted to go to the meetings. At first I thought, “Well of course, who wants to go sit down and listen to their boss yell and complain for an hour?” However, I was surprised to get the same response after I brought it up to a few of the engineers I was shadowing throughout my internship. The meetings were not a waste of time, or even about having your boss criticize your work(constructively of course!). Rather, the same answer I got was the fact that they were so busy with current projects or customer problems that they did not see the value in sitting down for an hour; when they should be on the floor fixing a problem. When you are maintaining four cells per customer and have sometimes three or four customers; your day is already full once you walk in the door. Adding an hour of meetings to the day means that you get home at 8 or 9PM instead of 6PM.
The responses are interesting and poise an actual real life conflict in the working world. There is plenty of truth behind the responses. In hindsight, it is easy to see how the meetings were constructed ‘poorly’. I noticed that while there was an agenda for each meeting, it was always a general concept that left it open to some imagination. Also, meetings would drag on sometimes waiting for peoples’ input. Applying some techniques learned in class have the potential to work these problems out and have successful future meetings. For example, apply the 30 minute rule to the meetings, but schedule the room for a full hour if it is necessary. Then, within the 30 minutes, have and follow a strict agenda. Focus on the facts and go around the room and get everyones’ input. However, even with all of this, nothing can get done without communication amongst all of the team members.
-Matt Deye September 27, 2012-