I remember when I started in this Industry several years ago. Ok, it was many more than ‘several’ years ago! My typical day left me in my cubicle while those in more Senior positions went to meeting after meeting. For myself and others low on the totem pole, it seemed the busier the scheduled commitments, the more important you were. Being involved in meetings was a status symbol.
One would think that with the development of email, messenger, and social media, the number of meetings we have would be fewer and fewer. However, if you work at an agency, you are pretty much 100 percent guaranteed to answer the question “How are you dong” with “Very Busy.”
This is an issue that afflicts agencies across the globe. We have confused being busy with being productive. This has become a huge issue in our Industry – odd for those specializing in Communication. There seems to be a pride element to having a calendar with back-to-back meetings.
I hear from many of my clients that there is a great deal of ‘busy time’ with little productivity. I also hear that the people who are needed most for feedback, approval, and guidance, are the ones who are least available.
The problem is that this ‘busy time’ is not because of actual work, but rather by meetings. Several issues result from these ‘binge meetings’, but they are easily solved.
- When meetings are back-to-back, there is no time allowed for digesting and implementing the take-a-ways from any of the meetings. Our Industry, in particular, is affected most by this since creative minds need quiet time to process information input and develop ideas.
- We have lost the meaning of meetings. Meetings should result in decisions and assigned action items. Their purpose should NOT be to introduce information or ideas. However, most meetings are held to share information. I see most agencies conduct a job kick-off meeting where the creative brief is shared for the first time with the group. So, a good portion of the meeting is spent either reading or being read the brief.
- I have seen agencies get hung up in the billable hour trap. Many agencies are not billing their hours to clients these days, although it is still vital to track the time spent on clients – a discussion for another article. I have spoken with clients in Senior Management who admit they are spending time on client work that they could use in a more productive way. For example, I know of at least one Account Director, who has weekly one-on-one meetings with their Account Managers to keep up with what is going on with the client. This happens even though the Account Managers copy the Director on emails and submit a weekly status report. When questioned as to their reason for these meeting, I heard answers such as “I always had these meetings when I was an Account Manager” and “This is what we have contracted with the client to do.”
It would seem that we have accepted that being busy is a symbol of status in our workplace. The perception is that if you are crazed and too busy, then you are productive.
In reality, the human mind is much like a computer. At some point, you need to pause to let the processor work through the entered information before you get any logical and beneficial answers.