I know what you're going to say - all meetings are useless and most are a big pain in the butt. And, to be honest, I used to agree with you. Not anymore. It all changed when I moved into administration, but I couldn't put it into words until now. I spent a lot of time setting up one-on-one meetings with every single person who works in my library, which wasn't the norm before, and explaining why to each of them is going to help me explain to you why meetings can be for good.
I'll give you more detail below, but if you don't have a lot of time to read, the tl;dr is one of my biggest themes on this blog: relationship building. Now, in no particular order, here's what I mean:
- Since I'm a little more removed from the front lines in this job than I have been in the past (even though I've been training on the circulation desk and have a regular reference desk shift, every other week), meeting with everyone gives us time to get to know each other. This is especially important when it comes to the ten people who work in the library part time, since I don't see them as often and really only work side by side with the one part time reference librarian who works the same reference desk shift as I do.
- Having a regular meeting schedule makes it so that sitting down with the boss isn't necessarily a punitive thing. Only meeting with staff when things are going wrong makes those meetings feel like being called to the principal's office. For those times when I do have to give negative feedback, I want people to be relaxed and open to discussing what happened instead of being automatically on the defensive.
- Speaking of giving negative feedback, having a regular meeting schedule makes it so it won't be a thing - us being in an office with the door closed - and it won't cause tongues to wag. One of the worst bosses I've ever had only closed the door for one-on-one meetings when you were in trouble. I'll never forget the time I showed up 5 minutes early for my meeting and found the door of their office closed. I knew, even without being able to hear what was being said, that my colleague who had the meeting slot before mine was being chastised. It is nobody's business except mine and that of the employee in question if I have to give negative feedback.
- Regular one-on-one meetings also gives people an opportunity to share ideas that they might not want to bring up in staff meetings. What if someone thinks we need to add a step to the check out process to protect people's privacy, but it will take extra time? Or what if the idea is that we should open up earlier in the morning because students are lined up outside the door? Being able to chat privately with me will give them a way to share that idea.
- Most importantly, me taking time to meet with them on a regular basis makes them know they are heard. This is me investing my most important resource - time! - in each and every person who works in my library.
Yes, meetings can be a pain in the tuchus. Some days it feels like that's all I do, which doesn't even touch the annoyances that accompany finding coverage for when I need to meet with someone who exclusively staffs a service point. But wow, is it worth it.
So how about you? What do you like about meetings?