In Favor of Company Meetings

George Mason University Economics Professor and Author Tyler Cohen makes a strong case for the value of company meetings in this article from Forbes.com

Most meetings drive us crazy. They drive productive people especially crazy. Scribbling, fantasizing and wishing it would end help only so much. But there is good news for the legions of meeting haters: Most meetings aren’t as wasteful as they seem.

Face-to-face gatherings serve valuable if hidden functions. For example, meetings publicize information about status. Who speaks? Who finds it necessary to praise whom? Who displays a confident demeanor? Meetings help managers and employees figure out how to build necessary coalitions. They bestow social intelligence.

Meetings also confer a sense of control. Attendees feel like insiders who have a real voice in decisions. This boosts their motivation to implement ideas discussed as a group. For this reason it is especially important to listen to the blowhards and the obstructionists, who otherwise would pursue their own agendas rather than support a common plan.

I bet the next time you attend a meeting, you’ll consider the process from a different perspective … perhaps as fundamentally a form of “social theater”.

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