Byte of Prevention Blog

by Lawyers Mutual |

Let’s Meet to Discuss, Or Maybe Not

We have all been there. The firm has called a meeting or another lawyer in the firm wants to have a meeting with you. The content presented in the meeting could have easily been provided to you in an email. While you’re in the meeting, your email inbox grows and the pile of work on your desk continues to need your attention. You leave the meeting with feelings of resentment, knowing that you could have used that hour more productively by attending to client matters.

Most professionals feel like they spend too much time in meetings. Since the pandemic, time spent in meetings has tripled. And this has resulted in an enormous cost to organizations. If we all agree there is too much time spent in meetings, yet most do not feel comfortable saying no, what can be done to alleviate the excess and sense of overload? Wharton psychologist and New York Times best-selling author Adam Grant made a simple but powerful suggestion. Grant says, “There are four reasons to meet: to decide, learn, bond, and do. If it doesn't serve one of those purposes, cancel it." 

Minda Zetlin, technology writer and author of “Career Self Care,”  offers a deeper analysis into Grant’s four reasons for meeting:

1. Meeting to Learn
Learning sessions become valuable when you can tap into the expertise of individuals, whether from within or outside your organization, who possess knowledge that is particularly beneficial for you and your team. This knowledge should be something that you are eager to absorb because it directly enhances job performance.
2. Meeting to Decide
When your team is faced with a collective decision-making process, or if you seek input from your team before making a decision, a meeting often proves to be the most effective method. For this approach to yield positive results, it is crucial that every participant in the meeting recognizes the significance of their vote, understands that their opinions and perspectives are esteemed, and feels that their presence is valued and impactful. It is important to avoid any semblance of pretending, either to oneself or others, that input is genuinely sought if the decision has already been made. When everyone feels heard and genuinely respected, there is a higher likelihood that they will wholeheartedly support the group's decision, even if it differs from their initial preference.
3. Meeting to Do
Certain tasks are more effectively accomplished through collaborative efforts involving multiple individuals. It's worthwhile to consider the potential benefits of a meeting when faced with tedious tasks that become more manageable when tackled collectively. This collaborative approach not only makes the task less onerous but also turns it into an event that everyone anticipates.
4. Meeting to Bond
This underscores the importance of ensuring that every meeting is interactive, allowing all participants the opportunity to express their thoughts and share ideas. By doing so, individuals are more likely to remain engaged and less inclined to surreptitiously engage in distracting activities, such as playing games on their phones. It also emphasizes the value of incorporating a few minutes of buffer time between meetings, providing individuals with the chance to engage in informal conversations before and after the formal session. When the primary objective of a meeting is to foster closer relationships among participants, it's worth considering whether an activity or outing, preferably one chosen by the group, might be the most effective approach. A bonding session doesn't necessarily have to occur within the confines of the office; in fact, it might be more beneficial if it does not happen within the confines of the day-to-day office routine.

So, the next time you decide to call a meeting, make sure that you can check one of these 4 boxes. If you can’t, you should probably forgo the meeting and find another means of communication.

About the Author

Lawyers Mutual

Lawyers Mutual, founded in 1977, is the first lawyers mutual insurance company in the country and has provided continuous professional liability coverage to North Carolina lawyers for 40 years. Its reputation for leadership, professionalism and commitment to its attorneys sets the standard for other legal malpractice insurance providers. For more information, call 800.662.8843, follow us on Twitter @LawyersMutualNC, connect on our LinkedIn page, like us on Facebook

Read More by Lawyers >

Related Posts