12 Oct There Is No Such Thing As A Mandatory Meeting


Have you ever sent or received a “mandatory meeting” email? If so, how did that meeting go? According to Google, there are over 122 million search results for “mandatory meeting.” I’m guessing you’ve been on at least one side of the said mandatory meeting.

Recently, I sent a “mandatory meeting” email to all of my managers-on-duty (MOD’s). The agenda was Active Shooter Training facilitated by a local detective. Not long after I sent the email, one of my colleagues and top performers responded that he wouldn’t be able to attend because, as a single parent, he had to pick up and watch his child during the session. I replied, “No problem. Thanks for letting me know!”

I started to wonder, “What if I didn’t make the meeting mandatory?”

Reality Check: There really is no such thing as a mandatory meeting.

The day after I sent the email, I ran into a different colleague and integral MOD who opens our facility daily at 2:30am. Within seconds of talking about our weekends, I realized that I sent the “mandatory meeting” email to her, too. I interrupted our conversation to say, “By the way, you don’t have to be at the Active Shooter Training tomorrow night since you have to be back so early in the morning.” She replied, “I thought so. Thanks for letting me know.”

Reality Check: The people leading the meetings are the only ones who feel that the meetings are mandatory.

Mandatory meetings are defined as required or commanded by authority. Even though we know that, how the heck do we continue to miss a mandatory meeting once in a while? From my experience, attendance seems to be higher, and quality seems to be better, for meetings that aren’t required.

While writing this post, I’ve come to this truth…

Click to Tweet: There might be mandatory things to learn or discuss, but meetings aren’t mandatory to attend. @derekdeprey #movetobeteams #shiftbook

What a huge difference between the two! So, if you’re a leader, how can you ensure that your colleagues learn and discuss what you ultimately want them to learn and discuss? Here’s how I’m going to strive to manage meetings:

6 Ways to Achieve Your Meeting Goal without Labeling It Mandatory

  1. Ensure that the content will be so valuable that they’ll want to attend. Provide a reason for people to come. Make the why (the purpose and benefits) bigger than the what (the word mandatory.) Tip: When your agenda includes ways to get better in work and life, your attendance will increase.
  2. Involve the participants. On your agenda, do you have more bullet points than discussion questions, or vice versa? I know I’m guilty. It’s so much more fun and engaging with interaction. Tip: If you have more bullets than questions, save some money and share the information a different way. Check this out: Does Your Meeting Cost As Much As A Wedding Banquet?

Click to Tweet: Meetings are for team discussions, not for one-way information. @derekdeprey #movetobeteams #shiftbook

  1. Record the meeting. Simply set your phone up on a tripod, hit record, and share the meeting on a private YouTube link. If you executed points 1 and 2, they just might be disappointed that they weren’t able to attend live.
  2. Schedule a live conference call or video. Help everyone sign up for a Gmail account and join Google Hangouts. They’ll be able to participate from wherever they’re at…for free.
  3. Offer the meeting on multiple days and at different times. Sometimes, the more options the higher the participation, especially if the employees in your organization work a mix of first, second, and third shifts. For example, if your full time colleagues work first shift, offer the mandatory meeting during their shift. Consider the schedules of everyone involved.
  4. Hold the participants accountable for learning the information or discussing the questions. I’m not saying write people up if they miss a meeting. I am saying that if your meeting is so important, care. Actually follow up with the participants that were unable to attend.

A few years ago, I vaguely remember a brief moment when one of my managers challenged me to eliminate the “mandatory” tag from my meeting requests because no one wants to have to do something. At the time, I didn’t get it. I do now, and I hope that you get it, too.

ACTION: At your meetings, do your colleagues choose to attend, participate, take action, and increase productivity? If not, try to remove the “mandatory” tag once and for all. Instead, add so much value to their personal and professional lives that they’ll actually want to show up.


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