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[Robin]: I’ve been in my fair share of meetings over the years; those that were unfocused and a bit rambling, those that were unclear about why they even needed to be meetings in the first place, or heck meetings that ended up being just plain weird. I would often leave those meetings and wonder why they felt so peculiar. Did I eff up by not writing an agenda? Was I a little unclear at the end about what everyone’s expectations were?
Meetings are important for us front-end developers and there are so many ways a meeting can go sideways that it’s worth sitting down and asking ourselves how we can improve them. So! Thankfully Sarah Drasner wrote about how to have good meetings and gosh darn is it a very good post:
It may at times feel like meetings are a drag on a software engineering process, but it doesn’t always have to feel this way. There’s something special about collaborating with a group of people who are respectful and working towards a common purpose. Good meetings can provide clarity and save people hours and days of work when they’re headed in the wrong direction. Having clear ownership, documentation, and only the right people in the room can keep many teams in lockstep, even when problems are complex.
The whole post is great because it digs into what a bad and good meeting is, but Sarah also explains how adding process to your meetings might actually make them worse in the long run:
Sometimes people use an agenda to write thoughts down before the meeting, and I would strongly suggest you steer clear of this—there’s nothing wrong with a person keeping notes for themselves for the meeting but if you come to a meeting where an agenda is locked top to bottom with material, it can sometimes shut down the collaborative aspect of the meeting—which means it shouldn’t be a meeting at all, it should just be a shared doc, to be consumed async. Part of the purpose of the meeting is the discussion itself.
Gah! That’s such an important note: meetings shouldn’t be the place where you give information to someone, but space where you can discuss the ideas and brainstorm solutions.
The best part of all this is that these notes are just a tiny bit from Sarah’s latest book called Engineering Management for the Rest of Us. And although I’m not an engineering manager (and let us all hope I never will be), I think there’s going to be so much to learn here about communication skills that I’ve found lacking in my own career.
So I couldn’t be more excited about this beautiful thing. Make sure to sign up on the website and get notified when it’s out.