Meetings For the Sake of Meeting

By: Julie East, Corporate Marketing & Recruiting

Aug 31, 2021

At one time in my career I held a management role for a corporation that was very formal.  Policies were in place for everything, even for such seemingly trivial details like what types of beverages were allowed on the property.  (I don’t mean alcohol; the policies restricted everyday soft drinks, as well.)  The company required me to attend weekly meetings with my staff, my department and with the corporate leaders.  With three meetings per week, it’s no surprise that the majority of my time was spent either in meetings, or preparing for them.  Often there was nothing new to report, but I was required to be there anyway.

Tommy Lofton, the founder of Lofton Staffing Services, has many core beliefs that drive how we conduct business. In addition to his belief, “Know your people – match interest and talents to the tasks” – which translated means to hire the right person for the right job and let them thrive – Tommy is also a firm believer in “Avoid policies/procedures/meetings for the sake of meeting.”  It’s frustrating for an employee to be in unproductive and often unnecessary meetings, rather than actually completing their work, especially when the meeting holds no value for their particular department or position.  While it’s true that complex topics or brainstorming sessions are best suited through in-person or video meetings, when sharing information or updates only, a written status report with an email check-in can be just as effective.  

Many of the most successful business executives in the world feel the same way.  Mark Cuban, famous billionaire investor, prefers email over in-person meetings or even phone calls, according to Thrive Global. “Love it. Live on it. Saves me hours and hours every day,” he said. “No meetings. No phone calls. All because of email. I set my schedule.”  Elon Musk has also gone on record as not being a fan of meetings. According to a GQ profile, Musk is reportedly fond of saying that meetings are what happens when people aren’t working. Musk is open to brief gatherings as long as they are highly productive for everyone involved. Otherwise, Musk recommends making a speedy exit. “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value,” he told Tesla employees. “It is not rude to leave; it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”  

Harvard Business Review relates that the best way to avoid meetings for the sake of meeting is to ask yourself a few questions before scheduling one:

  • Have you thought through the situation?  If no, schedule time for strategic thinking before proceeding.
  • Will you need outside input to make progress?  If no, schedule time to work directly on the task.
  • Do I need a real-time conversation to move forward?  If no, send an email instead.
  • Does this situation really need face-to-face interaction?  If not, consider a call or live chat.
  • Once the answer to all of these questions is yes, then proceed with scheduling the meeting.  

Finally, once you determine that a meeting is necessary, prepare an agenda for it.  As you work through that agenda, it will become apparent which employees need to be involved and which do not.  This schedule of topics will also keep the meeting on point from start to finish so that it will be as effective and productive as possible.  Send the agenda to all invited attendees in advance so that they, too, will come prepared.  This also gives them the opportunity to opt out if they feel their input is not needed, or if more pressing matters require their attention at that time.  

The bottom line:  Be sure your meeting is necessary, invite only those that are key to the topic, and encourage respondents to be prepared if their presence is required.  As Tommy Lofton says, “Tell others what you want done, not how to do it, and they will amaze you with their ingenuity.”


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.