Saturday, October 11, 2008

How about a meeting?

If there is one thing that bugs me about ANJ it's the incredible number of meetings! Sometimes, we have meetings to set up other meetings. I wouldn't mind if I felt like they were productive, but most of them are not. Friends tell me that this is pretty endemic of non-profits but I hope as a member of the senior staff, to find a way to curb some of these meetings.

We're having a retreat (Note: Retreat = fancy word for extra long meeting) to talk about our plans, deadlines and goals for the next year and I am hoping to have a discussion about cutting out the number of meetings we have here. One of the complaints floating through the team is that we never have time to do our actual jobs, guess why that is... we are always in meetings. It's the worst for senior staff, one day my supervisor and I had 4 meetings together with other people... I didn't even eat lunch that day, and my supervisor had 2 more meetings than I did.

It all comes down to too much to do and not enough time in the day to do it. So for example, I'll write something up (let's say a research proposal) and it needs to reviewed by at least one other member of the senior staff. But instead of sending it to them and having them send it back w/ track changes or some other sort of comments, we have a meeting about it because they don't really have the time to both read and comment on the document.

We'll have a team meeting where we outline all of the projects we're currently working on but instead of assigning everyone tasks, they're told to let us know which tasks they want to work on (I've complained about this before). I've been trying to be a bit more forcefully organized over the past few weeks by actually assigning people tasks during these meetings (in a friendly/professional way of course) and checking in with people via email or stopping by their desk so I can get an idea of where they're at. At our retreat I am going to propose this model as a way to better organize our tasks.

I've noticed that members of the team now come to me when they have some free time looking for something to work on. I'm fine with that. I think they actually like the sense of organizaiton I bring to the projects and look to me to keep that going.

So although I've only been at ANJ for less than 2 months, I'm going to make some serious proposals at our really long meeting, I mean... retreat to cut back on meetings and bring some more organization to our work plans. Wish me luck.


post-doc said...

Good luck! I spend my life in meetings too - it's freaking ridiculous.

Psychgrad said...

I think your idea is a good one. I think when collaborations are very horizontal, it requires a lot of meetings.

Psych Post Doc said...

Thanks Katie and Psychgrad.

The retreat isn't until the end of the month so I'll have to keep you posted on whether my ideas go anywhere.