Meetings, Cell Phones, and Managers

Meetings, Cell Phones and Managers…

They go together like bacon and eggsLaurel and HardySmith & WessonDumb and Dumber

It’s true. As we live and breathe, managers go to meetings. Some incessantly; so often that meeting attendance begins to feel like an end itself — that their actual job is to attend meetings.

And cell phones. Are we really so important that we cannot go an hour — one single, lonely hour — without checking emails, texting, or my favorite, “Excuse me, I’ve got to take this…” cell call?? Can we not make an entire meeting without casting those sometimes-furtive glances toward that 2-inch screen??

In a word, no.

The short answer is probably NO ONE will die without their phone for an hour (contrary to what some likely feel). I do, however, feel this issue brings a murky problem into specific relief…

It’s about value, not time or even cell phones/blackberry’s.

So many meetings are mundane, repetitive and unnecessary, that participants feel their attendance is either unwarranted or merely perfunctory. Hence the texting, blackberry emails, and “excuse me, this is important” cell calls.

In other words, in my view, cell phones, et al, during meetings are symptomatic, not causal.

Reduce the number of meetings by 2/3, drive them with action, require attendance only from action-substantive people, and THEN make ’em turn off the damn phones.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann


  1. says

    Jules — can always count on few but succinct comments. Thanks!


    Great rules, and others should live by them religiously. We have way too many meetings to Begin with, then we add insult to injury by allowing them to have low/no real utility and invite gratuitous participants.

    I also feel strongly about self-appointed naysayers and devil's advocates in meetings who add hours to conversations just to keep things going (we'll make that another thread, shall we?).

    But that's just me…


  2. says

    For many years, I have had 4 hard and fast rules about meetings.
    1. They start on time
    2. There is a specific agenda and whoever called the meeting is responsible for insuring that the agenda is closely followed
    3. A meeting should not last more than 40 minutes
    4. There is no excuse, short of the falling of the World Trade Centers, for interupting the meeting.

    There are exceptions and there is a time and place for all day and even multi-day meetings, but as a general guide, the above rules have worked well for many years.

    At many meetings, I insist that everyone put their cell phones in a pile in the middle of the table. The first one to pick his up, has to pay 'the pot' a set amount. There have been a few occasions that 'the pot' bought lunch for the group.

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