Missing a meeting may seem like a relief, having one less to go to, but the world doesn’t always stop for our lack of attendance. Missing a meeting can be like taking a sick day from school – the teacher still expects the work to get done. There can be many reasons why we miss meetings including:
- Being Overbooked – We spend so many hours a day in meetings and despite technology that shows others our availability, many times we find ourselves overbooked.
- Taking Time Off – Crazy, right? But when we go on vacation, the universe still needs to support life.
- Unexpected Circumstances – A customer needs our attention, the school called with a sick kid to be picked up, or technology is not being friendly.
- Deadlines – Sometimes a deadline or another priority has to take precedence.
Missing a Meeting? Don’t Do This…
No matter the reason, missing a meeting has an impact on your peers and company and hopefully not a customer. There are a few things that create a flurry of frustration and bad habits across organizations and companies when they become an acceptable norm.
- Disappearing Act – Not telling anyone is kind of rude.
- Surprise! – Waiting until the last minute to block your calendar (or not blocking at all).
- No Back-Up – The work never ends so can we afford the seat to be empty?
- The Excuses – Providing reasons for missing doesn’t help the fact the work and others will be impacted.
Can’t Be There? Do This!
We ALL miss meetings. And sometimes it isn’t a bad thing. Routine can be tiresome so a change of pace or schedule is good for us all. Whenever possible, try to implement some better meeting best practices and etiquette using the tips below.
Share your absence with others as soon as possible by thinking and planning ahead. As soon as paid time off (PTO) is known, add it to your calendar. Look at recurring meetings already on schedule during that time and notify meeting organizers. In some cases, they may be able to reschedule but in other cases, they may need to stay on schedule and push ahead.
If a last-minute schedule change comes up, do your very best to notify those it impacts. Unless it is an emergency, taking even 2 minutes to email or chat meeting organizers to share your scheduling conflict is a courtesy. Remember that meetings cost the company a ton of money so making sure your schedule doesn’t become more of a loss, compounded by the other employees in the meeting, is key.
Find Out What Is Needed In Advance
If the meeting is going ahead without you, seek what is needed and do your best to provide it prior to your absence. Is a status needed? Gather the latest information prior to the absence and share it with the meeting organizer, guests, or add to the agenda using a meeting tool like Docket to help be a contributor. Will feedback need to be given on project requirements, a design, or a customer deal? See if you can get the information ahead of time, even if rough draft, so you can provide your feedback.
Does it mean a little extra work on your part? Sure it does! But a little inconvenience on your part will free you up during your absence and give those left behind the freedom to make decisions and keep things moving.
Is there someone you trust to fill your shoes while you are gone? If yes, ask them to take your place. This is a generous peer but most are gracious enough to help. Prep them before the meeting, let the organizer know you have a guest in your place, and be prepared to return the favor.
Follow Up On Actions
When you return, check-in with the meeting organizer or your proxy to get an update or summary including actions and due dates you are responsible for and acknowledge that you are aware of them. Be proactive prior to any follow-up meeting so that the organizer and fellow guests are not in the dark about your status and handling of those tasks.
You are entitled to take time off and have schedule bumps. But working a little harder to make sure others are not impacted negatively is courteous. While not everyone you work with will be as gracious or thoughtful about their absences, setting the example and being a reliable peer will give you a good reputation and ensure your contributions continue to the best of your ability.