“You can get your company together whenever you want. There is only one time you must get them together. And that’s when there appears to be no time, no budget, and no good reason. That’s when people really appreciate a purely social meeting – and the fact that you’re holding one makes them feel appreciated.” – David Pearl
In The Reasons Why People Meet, I introduced seven different types of meeting. In this post, we examine meetings for meeting.
The main purpose of a meeting for meeting is to form and strengthen relationships, social, and personal bonds. Y’know, the warm fuzzies which are often mocked, but – spoiler alert – are vitally important for the long-term success of any group endeavour.
David Pearl explains meeting meetings in detail from pages 215 to 219 of Will There Be Donuts?; this post borrows/adapts heavily from those pages, but is certainly not meant to be a replacement – and all credit to Pearl for his keen insights and useful advice.
||Well, with whom do you feel like meeting?|
The What of Meetings for Meeting
Pearl offers three suggestions to guide our meetings for meetings:
- Keep it real: “If you are meeting for the sake (and pleasure) of it, then say that. And do just that. Don’t pretend it’s work.”
- Keep it simple: “Nice atmosphere. Nice food. Nice drinks.”
- No agenda – not even a hidden one
Following these guidelines leads to genuine relationships and camaraderie emerging naturally, but far too many companies stray. They just aren’t comfortable with a lump of time without an agenda, or planned activities; so, instead of just blocking of time for people to hang and chat, they throw in ice-breakers, or have a list of topics/themes, or break people into assigned groups…in short, they try to manage the meeting.
Personally, I hate that crap – I just cannot stand it. It creates an artificial environment in which people see that there’s some sort of ‘point’, and then everyone puts their work faces on and interactions are carefully inhibited.
As Pearl says, “We are sometimes so eager for out teams to have a good time that we over-plan and over-fill the time with ‘fun.’ If it’s supposed to be relaxing, have the courage to leave as much time in the schedule as you dare empty! You’ll find people are quite good at creating their own fun if you let them.”
“We are sometimes so eager for out teams to have a good time that we over-plan and over-fill the time with ‘fun.’ You’ll find people are quite good at creating their own fun if you let them.”
Whenever I’m involved in planning an event, I always argue for unstructured time where we provide a space, some food, and some drink, and let people do their things. In my experience, that’s what people really want and need, and this relaxed environment is far more conducive to people building trust and relationships than any contrived team-building events or activities. And – of course! – trust and relationships are an important foundation of achieving overall company objectives, so these more socially oriented meetings are very efficient investments.
It’s like, “Oh no, $5,000 for food, drink, and location…that’s terribly expensive!” versus “Wow, for $5,000 we can get our team of 50 people breaking down silos, building authentic relationships, naturally discussing common problems and potential solutions, and getting re-energized!”
So, to all you companies out there who diligently read this blog and hang onto my every word: don’t overthink it.