Every now and then, I like to hike my pants up to my nipples, slap a frown on my face, and shake my fist at kids in my yard. That’s what’s happening right now.
You know how it’s become popular for people to kvetch about work gatherings and say “That meeting could have been an email”? Well, on behalf of managers and leaders everywhere, I just want to say… “No. That meeting could not have been an email… because people don’t read their email.”
Sure, it makes total sense that if information needs to be distributed without conversation, bringing everyone together in person to do that seems wasteful and inconvenient. I felt this sentiment strongly for years… until I was the person who really needed to get his team on the same page.
Once I started being responsible for everyone working together and understanding what was going on, I learned an important lesson: Many people do not read and process work emails. And when I say “many,” I mean “enough to make it necessary to have a lot of in-person meetings.”
I don’t want to come off as overly aggressive here (I say as I try to spray kids on bicycles with my garden hose). People are busy and swamped with email. We have all developed the habit of skimming communications just to keep our heads above water. It’s not that we are lazy or don’t care. It’s just that we are inundated with communication. And for those who DO read their emails, it isn’t fair to have to sit through meetings where they already know all the information.
My hope in making this rant is 2-fold. First, I hope it will make people pause and consider how challenging it can be for leaders to keep their teams informed and on the same page before loudly complaining that the meeting someone worked hard on is a total waste of time. Second, I hope it will serve as a grumpy-old-man-style reminder to all of us to please read our work emails (and not to roll our eyes when managers continually beg the team to do so).
Now, for anyone who wants to stick around, I’m going to sit in my rocking chair and ramble about the good ole’ days until dinner time at 4:30pm.