Suppose you’re Mike setting up a 1:1 meeting with Julie. What should you name the calendar meeting request?
- Julie / Mike
- Mike / Julie
If you’re like me, you probably choose the first option. You’re meeting with Julie, so her name goes first. It would feel egotistical to put your own name first, right? Besides, this is what Google’s newish scheduling feature does. (Video)
But what’s most useful for Julie? When she looks at her calendar, she’ll want to know who she’s meeting with, not her own name. She already knows that. So put your own name first. Then, even on a small phone screen, she’ll see it.
Yeah, it will be a little harder for you. But you’re the one setting up the meeting. Be kind.
Btw, if you include only her name (the third option), she’ll have to open the appointment on her calendar to see who sent it.1
I used to manage an engineering team about 500 miles distant. To stay in sync, we had regular meetings:
- A team meeting every week
- A stakeholder meeting every week
- 1:1 meetings with each team member every other week
When something urgent arose, we’d call ad hoc meetings with the appropriate people.
Once or twice a month, I’d jump on a plane and fly to the team. I’d get demos of development progress. I’d reschedule 1:1s. Yet that didn’t end up being the primary value of those trips.
Invariably, as I sat at the work table, a team member would walk up and say, “I’ve been meaning to tell you…” Then I’d learn something vital, something we absolutely needed to discuss, something worth the time and expense of traveling.
How do we get that magic without being in the same room? Are there other ways to be present? Without travel? And for distributed teams?
These are the questions my team is working on right now.
In the past two days, I read two books by Patrick Lencioni: Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The books are quick reads — obviously. What might not be so obvious is the books are also entertaining, teaching in a form their author calls “a leadership fable.” In case you miss something along the way (not likely), the books include summaries of the points to be learned.
I’m looking forward to practicing what I learned within my team.
Where I work, most meetings are teleconferences with the participants sitting in their cubes at their computers. The computers seem to make paying attention nearly impossible, whether it’s getting other work done, checking out the stock price, or just cruising the web. Those in the know have learned to state a person’s name before asking a question. Otherwise, the person might not be listening.
Michael Lopp at Rands In Response has the solution:
If you’re in a meeting where you have no role such that you’re tempted to stare at your laptop: stop going. If you’re running a meeting infested with laptops and, after repeated gentle reminders about your no-laptop policy, there are still laptops: remove the laptop offenders from the meeting.
Read the rest of “The Laptop Herring” for more reasons to prohibit laptops, or even better, kill the meeting. I’ve forwarded the URL to my group.