How can you tell if a meeting is actually needed compared to asynchronous communication?

Profile picture
Entry-Level Software Engineer [SDE 1] at Amazon6 months ago

Sometimes I sit in meetings that I feel aren't really necessary. How can I better identify whether these meetings are necessary and propose a better asynchronous form of communication (slack post, quip doc, etc) if they aren't?

Some of these meetings include status update meetings (besides standup), and meetings where people are there just to absorb knowledge. Is it a general rule of thumb to have meetings primarily to get alignment on decisions? Are there cases where we can get alignment asynchronously as well via commenting on a slack post/quip doc, etc.

2 Likes
111 Views
2 Comments
👑

Discussion

(2 comments)
  • Profile picture
    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    6 months ago

    Two ways to evaluate (among others):

    • How organized and efficient is the person who runs the meeting? Once you've been on the team long enough, you can start to predict who you trust to run tight meetings, and who is scheduling meetings due to a laziness of not writing things down.
    • For recurring meetings, what % of the past meetings did you actually contribute something important? If you don't speak in the meeting for several weeks, you should start to question if the meeting is actually worthwhile.

    The other thing I'd focus on is taking detailed notes about what happened (doesn't have to be you, but someone in the meeting should be). Once you have the notes (both the meeting agenda and past meeting summaries), you can make an evaluation on whether it's worth going. https://www.jointaro.com/lesson/vbRxLekspVWvgP1clpFw/taking-amazing-meeting-notes/

    Steve Huynh talks about his approach to meetings in this video about productivity: https://youtu.be/Mj75QsirVHE

    2 Likes
  • Profile picture
    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    6 months ago

    For your question about getting alignment asynchronously, the answer is absolutely yes. This will depend on the size and scope of the meeting, but I'd argue that almost all decisions can and should be made async.

    There should be a written record of the thought process, and I'd also recommend broadcasting out the decision with the explanation that "here's the tentative decision we made, which will be made final by Monday if I don't hear any feedback or concerns".

    You should give people ample time to respond, but this is a nice forcing function to make progress: the default is to keep moving forward, and only have a meeting if someone shouts.

    2 Likes