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The "Meetings" Lesson is part of the full, Engineering Management Fundamentals 101 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jem discusses how engineering managers spend their time, focusing primarily on meetings. The different types of meetings that managers typically attend are mentioned, such as one-on-ones, project meetings, planning and strategy meetings, all hands meetings, team meetings, social events, team retrospectives, and staff meetings. Jem also emphasizes the importance of being prepared for meetings and the need for agendas to ensure that time is not wasted.

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Transcript from the "Meetings" Lesson

[00:00:00]
>> So, this is not a trick question, how do engineering managers spend their time?
>> Depends on the company and the role.
>> Yeah, but there's a real answer to this one. This isn't a trick. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE]
>> [LAUGH]
>> Megan, the chat must have been seen into the future here, because they responded a few minutes ago.

[00:00:22] As an engineering manager, I spend 10% of my time each week with one-on-ones, 65% of my time in meetings, and the rest in Slack.
>> Wow, that's really specific. Props to them.
>> What do you say about that?
>> [LAUGH] The answer is meetings.
>> [LAUGH]
>> [LAUGH] There's a real, sorry, I wasn't trying to trick you all.

[00:00:45] Yeah, the breakdown of meetings is pretty important, we're gonna talk about that. Cuz when you look at a manager, you're like, what do they do all the time? It's just meetings. Their calendar is full. And one-on ones are meetings too, there's different type of meeting. And you're like, that's probably the thing that turned me off the most from being an engineering manager.

[00:01:02] It's like, I don't wanna sit in meetings, I'm not being productive there. So one thing I had to do was change my mindset around, what am I trying to do in meetings, what's the purpose of them, it's not just filling time. I tell you, some people think managers like meetings.

[00:01:18] We don't. I'd rather not be in a meeting. I would rather be writing a doc or talking to my team, or focusing on, I wanna be creative too. I wanna write, hey, here's a proposal for doing this, or hey, maybe I wanna dive into the code a little bit.

[00:01:34] But oftentimes I don't cuz I'm in meetings. So, I won't say I dislike meetings, I understand their purpose, but would I rather not be in meetings to have a day that's empty? Yeah, I would. Just a common misconception there. [LAUGH] And when you get into meetings, the fascinating world of engineering management, there's a lot of different types of meetings.

[00:01:55] You got your one on ones, so that's person to person. You got project meetings, you got planning and strategy meetings. You got all-hands. I think they're generally called all hands, but if your entire organization comes together, whether it's company or glide or domain wide, it's called an all-hands, it might be called something different.

[00:02:13] You have team meetings. You should be having team meetings. If you don't have team meetings, you're doing something wrong. You should be meeting regularly as a group. Social events, that's a meeting too. You probably don't think of it, but it's a meeting, cuz you're meeting other people. Team retrospectives, looking back on what went well, what didn't go well, that's a meeting.

[00:02:33] And staff meetings, talking to the other peer managers in your organization, talking to your manager in a big group. Those are called staff meetings, generally. They could be called something else as well. Are there other meeting types you can think of that I didn't include in the list?

[00:02:47] There's gotta be one. Yeah, right.
>> It could be standups, right? You might be attending standups that your team has.
>> Standups, yeah, that's a meeting too.
>> Does team bonding count? Like, happy hour.
>> Put it under social events, but, yeah, that counts. Yeah.
>> Interviews.
>> I also think on that one, is an interview a meeting?

[00:03:14]
>> It's on the calendar.
>> Yeah, I'm gonna count it, yeah.
>> [LAUGH]
>> You get the call?
>> Yeah, good call out.
>> Ad hoc, huddles.
>> Yeah, huddles, that's a meeting.
>> Quick chat.
>> Yeah.
>> Just a quick chat.
>> Quick chat, person to person.

[00:03:31]
>> Leadership meetings.
>> Yeah. So now the, strategy meetings, what once was like a blank canvas of meetings, now we see there's actually a lot of varieties in there. And your inputs, outputs, what's expected changes from meeting to meeting. So we talked about types of meetings, but the purpose of meetings and the types are often different.

[00:03:56] Sometimes you're just planning. You're not actually trying to make a decision, you're just trying to get some ideas. Or you're trying to say, like, hey, what are the next steps? Sometimes there's brainstorming. You have no ideas and you need some. You gotta start from somewhere, every project idea has to start from somewhere.

[00:04:13] Brainstorming idea meeting is sometimes just the purpose. You're not trying to achieve anything there other than ideation. Sometimes there's alignments. That means, a decision must be made and here's a group of stakeholders to make a decision, what technology are you gonna do? What's the next step in this project?

[00:04:30] Sometimes that's what a meeting's for. Morale and culture, those are team events, often. Sometimes they're not, sometimes they're performance meetings and a one-on-one. Sometimes the meeting's just for sharing information, and all-hands is a good example of someone talking to a large group of people, you're just sharing information there.

[00:04:51] Probably not a lot of back and forth. Sometimes you're just there to receive information. Again, in all-hands, I'm just there listening. I'm probably not contributing to what the CEO has to say in this particular moment. Someday, someday I'll have my time to shine. But I like to think of meetings and breaking them out in types and purpose because it changes my approach and what's expected.

[00:05:14] Sometimes, if I'm running the meeting, I need to be prepared. I can't show up unprepared if it's a status meeting for the project managers. I need to know what the status of the project is. Is it on track? Is it delayed? What are the reasons? What are the next steps?

[00:05:27] I have to be prepared going in. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone's clearly not prepared? Yeah, it's weird, it's so uncomfortable, you're like, why are you wasting our time? You're like, there's literally money we're spending by being here and not doing other things. And that's something you have to think about, is, are you wasting people's time in a meeting?

[00:05:48] Is your time being wasted? There's a famous rule we have at Netflix, which is, no agenda, no attender.
>> [LAUGH]
>> I believe in, if it's a big group meeting and say, a lot of other managers are involved, and there's no agenda, I'm like, hey, I'll either email the person like, hey, what are we talking about?

[00:06:08] Or I just won't show up, cuz, why waste my time. If you couldn't put in the effort to at least make an agenda for a meeting, then I don't need to put in the effort back. And it sounds cold but that's just how we operate, we wanna make sure we're making the best use of time.

[00:06:23] I like meetings with a bunch of leaders and directors, cuz if you think of time and money in salaries and all that, you translate that, some meetings are expensive. Thousands of dollars you're spending. And if you're not making progress towards something, what are you doing? I don't know, maybe I'm cynical about meetings.

[00:06:41] Maybe I take too tight of a lens on them.