Turning up

Some thoughts on why you should be attentive in meetings that you are present at

An open calendar

A big part of my day job as an engineering manager is attending meetings. My calendar tends to fill up as if by magic between the hours of 8.00 and 18.00, Monday to Friday, all by itself. I am frequently double-booked, or even triple-booked, requiring me to decide what meetings I should attend at the cost of others.

My colleagues are including me in their meetings because they:

  1. Would like me to be informed.
  2. Would like me to provide an update.
  3. Would like me to provide direction.

After that it is up to me to decide what meetings I should attend, based upon where I think I can add value. If I cannot add value to a meeting, frankly I have no business being there.

Just turning up

Some of my peers are quite aggressive in rejecting meeting invites, and see their time as being too valuable to be spent attending meetings. A larger group of my peers are more passive-aggressive about this: they will physically turn up at a meeting, but will not get involved whatsoever but instead tap on their laptops or smartphones throughout, completely oblivious to what is being discussed around them, but "hey, I was at the meeting, right?".

"If I attend a meeting, I am wholly there."

I prefer to fully turn up. I purposely avoid bringing a laptop when possible, and turn my smartphone face down. If I need to take notes, I use a pen and paper as this demonstrates to your colleagues that you are actually taking notes, rather than tapping on your laptop which could be misconstrued by the current speaker.

If I attend a meeting, I am wholly there. I will offer an opinion, I will ask questions, I will challenge. More importantly, I will support my colleagues and demonstrate to them that I value their time as much as they value mine.

John Collins

I have been writing about web technology and software development since 2001. I am the developer of the Alpha Framework for PHP, and the five.today personal productivity app. I love open source, technology, and economics.

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