Millennials participating in a new Igloo Software survey of 1,000 office workers see meetings as largely productive. Meetings are not a waste of time; they're an opportunity for employees to group-think from every conceivable angle until they schedule a follow-up meeting because they couldn't reach a decision.
The Igloo survey tells us that more than half (56%) of Millennials see team meetings as very productive. On the flip side, more than half (54%) of employees aged 35 and older see most meetings as tedious exercises resulting in few, if any, actionable results.
In fact, the age of 35 is when it dawns on the typical employee just how useless most meetings really are. Can we wrap this up? I have work to do.
This evolution in thinking makes sense when you think about it. Before the age of 35, we want to debate anything and everything on our minds. Every topic is major, everything can be a crisis. But as we mature, we tend to narrow down the list of debatable topics to the things that matter most. It's not because we're lazy; it's because we've figured out that some debates simply aren't worth the time and energy.
Now put get-to-the-point Gen Xers and the get-ready-to-brainstorm Millennials together in a meeting, and watch the sparks fly.
All topics are important and all opinions are equal in the 21st Century Millennial workplace, and simply because you have a lot more work experience doesn't necessarily mean your opinion should carry any greater weight. Millennials meet to share ideas without all the useless hierarchy. They want to create excitement and consensus around ideas first, then they'll discuss later how to get them off the ground. By the way, somebody will have to step up to do the grunt work of implementing any new ideas they can agree on, because nobody wants the job. Let's keep talking, everyone!
Now that the Millennials comprise the majority of the U.S. workforce, calling an all-hands-on-deck meeting to debate small issues is more likely than ever. If you've reached a place in your life where you think, "I can't believe they called a meeting about this," then how do you deal with the Millennials' desire for a follow-up meeting to keep talking about it?
On the one hand, creating a sense of democracy around the conference table on every topic is a nice thing. Everyone gets to participate, and to have an equally-valid opinion. Who can argue with that? However, when does this type of round table democracy lead to rampant inefficiencies in the day-to-day running of a department?
If consensus building is slowing the work down, one solution is to move the minor issues, such as work supplies and break room snacks, online to an internal company forum or workplace app where interested employees can debate and build consensus virtually. This clears the deck for major meetings to focus on the meaty issues, such as hitting sales goals, quarterly projections, client demands, and so on.
As Millennial managers increasingly call the shots (e.g., the meetings), there might be more meetings. The old-fashioned meeting agenda will become a relic of the past, too. But maybe that's a good thing? Too much structure doesn't allow for creativity. It's always nice, however, to leave a meeting feeling like our colleague's expertise was respected while something major was also accomplished. That's a very Gen X thing to say, though. Discuss.