Have you ever attended one of these? Not knowing what you were getting into until the end of the meeting where you thought everything had been discussed, ready to go but then only to be informed that now everyone was all prepped, on point, had the same message for the real meeting?
Did you then sit through the “real meeting” wondering why you were there, expect maybe for the proverbial show of team unity, wondering what code you could have eeked out in that total combined time block of 2 hours?
Getting your entire team into a room for a meeting, to discuss an issue, only to keep them in that room for another meeting right after where only 2 or 3 new members show up is not only a waste of your team’s time but it sets an adversarial tone with the new members joining the meeting knowing that you spent the last hour discussing the topic already and they now feeling left out, really only left with an option but to agree.
On the flip-side if the meeting before the meeting is used for you to meet with your team, discuss the topic and then leave your team to focus on other problems while you go and discuss with the other members of the main meeting, the tone automatically shifts. It’s no longer becomes a numbers game and your team is not sitting through another session. In essence, you’re taking the lead by representing the intentions of your team, being confident in not needing to have them all sitting there wondering why they are all there.
The only time I allow myself to have the meeting before the meeting is when I need to have it with myself and prepare myself with whatever content I need to get the most out of that upcoming meeting. That’s on me to get that information so I can go in confident and assured in what is going to be discussed.
You can’t always reduce the need for meetings with your team (and larger teams), but if you can avoid (and hopefully learn to foresee) the implementation of meetings before meetings, your team will thank you… especially when it comes to delivering.