A day in Manager’s life – how to survive under an avalanche of meetings

What is your working day like? The calendar is bursting at the seams and you don’t have time to complete the basic tasks? Sounds familiar. And now imagine that half of them disappear from your schedule without any loss to your business. How is that possible? Lean.

Recently, “time planners” have been enjoying unwavering popularity. Pink, black and maroon, day and hourly, with the ability to set goals and design life. We’re not doing well. There is still too little time, and we are trying to save this situation by planning every minute so that it is not wasted. We oppressively catch the planner and another influencer – a time specialist who will tell us how to live. But where’s the lean in all this?

Value-based organisation

The overriding principle of the lean approach is to provide customers with products/services of value in the simplest and quickest way possible. Thus, without unnecessary waste. I’m inviting you to a little experiment. Take your schedule in your hands and analyze step by step the meetings you have held and record the business value they have provided you with. How many of them did you do for the sake of the idea without moving the project forward? If it’s an overwhelming number, it’s a sign that it’s time to start planning smarter.

Business is based on people, and every meeting with another person always brings some value. This is a fundamental and unquestionable principle. The longer someone stays in the business environment, the better they understand it. However, when you start to lose ground under your feet, projects get stuck, because there is no time for them, and the team can not count on you, because you are at the next meeting – start planning based on values.

There was a meeting…

Recently I have arranged a meeting which was to be a summary of the activities carried out in recent weeks – it was a summary of interviews with the recipients and the team, which resulted in the development of Unique Value Proposition and the process of implementing changes. The next stage was supposed to be a workshop validating the results of this work. It seemed very important to me, because it would be good if the customers knew what we were doing. I prepared myself for it for a few hours by engaging other people from the team I work for. Everything is fine, the meeting is successful, the relations are built, but has the project been moved forward? Well, no, it hasn’t. The meeting turned out to be worthless in the context of the project – because the process had been previously established and discussed, and the meeting did not change anything in the course of further work, the process, etc… A summary at this stage was not needed, and if I did, I could organize it via the Internet, or simply describe it in an e-mail. Thus, I wasted a few hours of my time and the time of my colleagues and customers, which resulted in a slowdown in the implementation of the project.

Then I realized that most of the meetings are organized without any need. I act in a lean way, I talk about leaning, I teach about leaning, but in the meantime such waste creeps into my work? First I couldn’t believe it, then I acted.

Minimize with people in mind

I firmly believe in lean and appreciate it for its focus on delivering value and working based on value. Also in terms of the organization of one’ s time. But how to transfer lean to the planning of meetings?

1. Ask yourself why. The key question in the context of planning one’s own time is what makes sense. If you want to build a relationship with a client – meet him/her. If you want to make progress in the project, specify how the meeting can contribute to it. Write down the values that this meeting brings to the project and consider whether it is really necessary to organize it. Remember the purpose of the meeting.

2. Minimize technical preparation for the meeting. If you already know that the meeting is valuable and necessary, analyse its form. Maybe instead of wasting time getting there, it could be by phone or via the Internet? Make your life easier and don’t waste your time.

3. Don’t forget the people. A project will be a project, but always remember about people – your interlocutors and respect for them. Nothing can replace a live chat, so as soon as your calendar allows you to, and the meeting has a value and a purpose – meet and talk.

Lack of time is one of the main problems of any manager. As we try to organize our schedules, let’s try to remember about the goals and values that the successive activities that fill our working days provide us with. Before we arrange a meeting, let us consider whether it is necessary and whether it will bring us value…. remembering the people. Let us be guided by the principle of respect for our customers, partners, co-workers and their time.

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Katarzyna Golonka
In business for five years, during which she managed a team of over a dozen people, created cycles of business events, co-created and managed the company. Currently, she specializes in Content Marketing and Personal Branding.

She helps companies to find their own "I" in business and to communicate it externally (marketing & business strategy).

Involved in numerous social activities. She is a certified Business Coach. She conducts workshops on the overlap of strategy & marketing. Author of texts for industry portals, including New Marketing, Marketing in Practice, E-commerce & Digital Marketing.

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