“Too Many Meetings” and developers: what can we do with that?

Software engineers hate meetings. They do not want to chit chat about various things, and meetings in their eyes are a waste of time. Nevertheless, each development process is based on communication, and meetings are mandatory.

Being a good manager is to value time: not only your time but also the time of your co-workers. That’s why you should understand the side effects of meetings on your team’s productivity.

What are the adverse effects of meetings?

When a developer joins the team, they expect to work on the product. They are aiming to bring innovation, a high-quality code, and their ideas. But how to bring new to the project if you are spending hours discussing it? When developers are claiming that they have too many meetings, they mean the following:

  • inefficiency,
  • poorly planned meetings,
  • poorly executed meetings,
  • do not want to miss the deadline,
  • do not have enough time to do their job.

The development team is the most valuable asset your company has, that’s why if they don’t like meetings, you need to listen to them and do something with this problem.

The difference between developer’s and manager’s time

Paul Graham, a co-founder of Y Combinator, in his essay “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” explains the differences between developer’s and manager’s time.

He highlights that managers are getting tasks done through the meetings, and their tasks are changing every 60 minutes. As for developers (he calls them makers), they need 3-4 hours minimum to complete the tasks. And most importantly, these blocks of time should not be interrupted since a single meeting at a wrong time can disrupt the entire working day. 

Furthermore, in addition to the scheduled meetings, other things might not allow you to focus on a more significant task. UX designer has a quick question, or the salesperson needs more information for the client, or a client wants an urgent call with the team – all these things make developers crazy and less productive.

So, you end up with overtimes. Your team is working late, they are tired and depressed, and decide to leave.

How to fix too many meetings issue?

The first thing you need to understand before we’ll go forward is that the meetings, for you – manager, are your work. And even having a good meeting with the team, you got your job done, and everything seems to be okay, your team might feel differently. They spent X hours of their time at the meeting – and have not moved forward with THEIR work.

Some teams were trying to fix this by setting up “No meeting Wednesdays” or “Don’t disturb me” signs. These methods don’t work. Why? Because they are implemented internally within the team and are not globally at the company.

Here are five steps to make sure no one in your team interrupted with the meeting:

Step 1: Take all the meetings to see what causes an issue.

Each meeting for you as a manager is essential. You need to know them all. Write down several groups of meetings: with other managers, with the client, with other departments, and with the development team. We will work with the last group since it’s our pain point.

Step 2: Assess the value of meetings.

Are these meetings providing values to their attendees? Are all they relevant for the developers? If you are a leader of a Scrum team, one of the most important meetings to you is a stand-up that happens each day. But are your developers getting value from it?

The first mistake managers make is the use of stand-up meetings to get a status update. Almost with any project management software, you can look through your team’s progress. So, why you need to spend your time on that? Take a look at your dashboard, think what the critical things are rather than reporting you should discuss. What is vital for the current iteration? 

Developers who are the core of your project must get value from any meeting they are involved in.

Step 3: Meeting values positioning

Okay, you got rid of all meetings that are not needed. Your stand-up meeting doesn’t last for hours, and everyone happy. However, there are other types of meetings you need your team to step in. That’s why positioning the real value of these meetings is essential.

Here is a simple example. The product you were working on for several years is already in the production stage, and your team needs information for its improvement. Whom will you ask about it? Of course, it’ll be a support team.

The status update meeting of developers with support is essential to make sure your product is running successfully. And all parties should understand that. The support team is the people who are working with the client directly. Therefore, they can share valuable insights on what clients expect to get. It’s a value for you, as a manager, for your development team as creators and for support as the people who are aimed to satisfy clients.

Each line of code is a business decision that cannot be done blindly.

4. Meetings clustering

As we explained before, the creator needs some time to do their work, and these time batches are about 3-4 hours each. So. If we start our working day at 10 am, the noon meetings will interrupt their work.

We need to make sure that we gave developers enough time to code. In other words, if a person comes to work and has 2 hours until the next meeting, he or she won’t start something ambitious or complicated in the morning, and leave it for the “after meeting time,” which might not be enough if we spend hours in the meeting room. As a result, small tasks are completed, but the more important ones are idle. 

So, it’s time to cluster meetings making sure that there is enough time for work. In our example, it’s better to schedule a meeting at 10:30 am or late in the evening around 6 pm. Your team will definitely be thankful for that, and their efficiency will grow up.

Step 5: Trade transparency for fewer interruptions

The primary issue the project leader experiencing is a lack of information from the developers. Since we are here to get rid of daily status updates during meetings, we need to use other means of communication to get these updates. So, making your team understand that Jira, Trello, or any other software for project management used should be continuously updated.

Make sure that your team members understand that filling up details in the software is the way to get less interrupted with meetings and questions.

As a result, you will be the holder of information needed by the client, vice president, whoever.

Yet, there is another way to get things done, use the software that communicates with Git. Again, we won’t advertise any third-party project here, so it’s up to use to do research.

Afterward, this article from the Efisco team is aimed to share some valuable insights on how effective management works. And we hope it helped you to make sure your developers are happy and productive.