Why Maybe, Just Maybe, We Actually Love Meetings

Last Updated Mar 10, 2011 9:40 AM EST

Ask many a middle manager the bane of their corporate experience, and the answer will be "too many meetings."

But HBR blogger Ron Ashkenas smells a rat. His take is that meetings, even bad ones, fulfill some inner needs that make us actually like to go to them, even if we won't admit it. We like:

  • The social interaction. "Meetings make them feel part of a community."
  • Being in the loop. "People need to know what's going on in other parts of the organization."
  • The inferred status. "Membership on multiple committees means that you are important, your opinion is valued, and you have a seat at a decision-making table."
"These psychological drivers of meetings are very powerful -- and usually trump all of the logical and rational 'meeting management' advice that is doled out in courses and articles. In other words, what seems like wasted or unproductive time for many managers is actually fulfilling important personal and organizational needs."
And darn it, Ron is right. Imagine if suddenly all those meetings scheduled on your calendar disappeared. How would you feel? What would you be missing?

Read his full post, Why We Secretly Love Meetings.

So next time you carp on meetings, consider the alternative.

(Image by Flickr user KCoDE, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.