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Learning to Manage Meetings

Marisa Kemnitz

Engineering Manager at Bleacher Report

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Problem

When I became manager I was shocked to see how many meetings I had in the course of a week. Every week, I had a 30 minute one-on-one meeting with each of my reports. Also in my weekly lineup was a leadership meeting, sometimes recurring every two weeks, and we generally like to get everyone on the team together once a week. Other than that, various meetings have the tendency to pop up sporadically throughout the work week as well. I wasn't used to managing my time in this way because I didn't have as many meetings before. Therefore, I was able to just focus on IC work which allowed me to be successful in my position. I definitely struggled to get all of the work done that I needed to do as a new manager. What was even harder was knowing that all of these meetings were really important and therefore necessary.

Actions taken

Decide if what is being said in the meetings is helpful for everyone else. I looked at all of the meetings and tried to figure out which ones were meaningful to everyone. The one meeting I attacked was a weekly team meeting that I had inherited from the previous manager who would set everything up, run it, and give direction. Due to the fact that I was already getting updates from all of the people on my team through our one-one-one's I found these meetings to be redundant. Likewise, I was able to see a lack of interest from the team members during others updates. Check the frequency needed for meetings. After speaking with everyone to see how useful they thought it was I suggested maybe having the meetings every other week instead of our current weekly held meetings. Make the meetings more interactive. One thing I am planning to roll out in the near future is allowing people to talk to the team through presentations of their work. I would like them to be okay with iterating at a meeting to make it more interesting.

Lessons learned

  • I did not feel like we were necessarily missing anything by changing the frequency of my group meetings to once every other week.
  • I thought it would be a good idea to compile all of my one-on-ones in the same day just to knock them out. What I found out is that this is quite the opposite of a time saving idea because you never know what is going to happen in a meeting like this. The last thing you want to do is have three intense back to back meetings. You really need time to reflect on what was said during those meetings and by bunching them all together you don't really get that.
  • I wish that upon moving from IC to management that someone had told me how to manage meetings, instead of just being thrown into them like I was.
  • I am now more respectful of other co-workers time and often tend to solve problems through group chats rather than calling a meeting.

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Marisa Kemnitz

Engineering Manager at Bleacher Report


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

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