Finding the right balance for meetings

Tal Broner

VP Engineering at Egnyte



"This year, a senior engineer came to me and told me that he wouldn't be able to meet his project's deadline. I was surprised, as he is usually a very productive engineer. He explained to me that he had too many meetings and that this had hindered him from moving forward with his project. Most engineers were spending between 30 percent and 50 percent of their time in meetings. I decided to approach some other senior engineers and I asked them whether they also felt that it was too much time. Several of them felt it was and were frustrated, as they wanted to spend more time on coding."

Actions taken

I decided to brainstorm about this issue with the engineers who were frustrated. A few points came out of this brainstorming session and became golden rules:

  • Always have a clear agenda and success criteria, and share these with the team before the meeting. By doing this, some issues can be resolved before the meeting.
  • Make sure that you achieve your goals by the end of the meeting

"If you have almost met your goals within the allocated time frame of your meeting, take a few more minutes to achieve them, rather than scheduling another meeting."

  • Make sure that the meeting is really dedicated to talking about what's on the agenda.

"If you have achieved your goals before the meeting is scheduled to end, stop the meeting, rather than discussing other matters."

I also allowed some of my engineers to block out a few days in their agendas, during which they have no meetings, allowing them to be very focused. We have called these days "No meeting days", and they are working pretty well.

Lessons learned

"It may seem obvious, but I have learned that to have a productive team, it is important to take include your team members' feedback into account when organizing work.
Meetings are essential in order to share information and collaborate, but they also imply context switching. It is the manager's role to find the right balance and to make sure that the meetings organized are necessary and run with efficiency."

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Tal Broner

VP Engineering at Egnyte

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyFeedback TechniquesTeam & Project Management

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