This picture has found it’s way into both my Twitter and Facebook feeds over the last few weeks.
Been there done that and the inverse is also true. “I survived another email thread that should have been handled in a meeting.”
We (I’m including myself) misuse meetings and emails on a daily basis. Things that could be handled through email are done in a meeting and things that should be done in a meeting are done through email. The ramifications of both mistakes are serious.
When meetings are used in lieu of email, time is wasted, productivity suffers, attendees may feel their time is not respected and the decision making ability of the person calling the meeting is in question.
When email is used in lieu of a meeting or conversation, there are misunderstandings and misinterpretation of meaning, necessary dialogue on important issues or decisions is missed and the relationship building that takes place in discussion (and sometimes conflict), which allows teams to strengthen and make leadership possible, doesn’t happen.
As a rule of thumb, use email when…
- Providing updates that require little discussion
- Putting all the facts on the table for something that will need discussion
- Sharing data
- Scheduling a meeting
- Laying out tasks
- Following up with minutes or notes from a meeting
Use a meeting or conversation when…
- The relationship is important
- Presenting a new idea
- There is a solution needed
- There is a conflict
- A decision is needed that impacts people
- Collaboration is required
- Seeking buy-in
- Delivering news (good or bad)
Servant leaders are rigorous about results AND serving people. Knowing when to use meetings and email puts you in a position to honor both.