Break the Bad Habit of Ineffective Meetings

Why do we continue to have bad meetings? Seriously, 99% of the human population seem to hate them, and there are surveys showing again and again that there are x many meetings everyday that cost gabillions of dollars worth of wasted time and productivity.


Is it some horrible concoction of misplaced optimism that this time it’ll be better, resigned acceptance that this is a required dog and pony show — the business world’s tradition of dance, monkey, dance — and a massive buildup of bad meeting history that’s created such intense inertia that only superheroes can help us pull away into the light?

Imagine that a group of you had to build a doghouse like Snoopy’s, and you got a toolbox, some wood, and pencils and paper. Your team is revved up about this cool doghouse, you can envision it, you have all these super useful tools, but all your team does with the pencils and paper is doodle pictures of cute dogs instead of making a blueprint or marking down measurements. Then when you run out of paper, you ask for more paper — only to doodle more pictures of dogs.

That’s how we’re treating meetings. Meetings are a helpful tool to decide and plan things. But misused, they’re just a bunch of meaningless doodles that don’t lead to anything being built and Snoopy with no place to live.


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How the Golden Rule Melts Away Management Hurdles

Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s a simple enough concept that long predates any management manual. Yet somehow the notion of treating people like, well, people when it comes to managing them gets lost in the landscape of meetings, memos, and motivational posters.

Is it that power actually gets to people’s heads? Adam Galinsky, a professor of management at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, tested whether there are heady effects. In one study, a group of participants were first primed to feel powerful by writing about a time they felt authority over others. They went on to make more mistakes when guessing the emotional expressions of faces showing happiness, sadness, fear, or anger, compared to the control group.

So the job of managing itself may reduce your ability to empathize and perceive what others are feeling and experiencing. When you lose touch with your team as people, you cause them to feel frustrated, demotivated, and unacknowledged — not only harming relationships but performance as well.

Too many of us have been trained to focus on work, as if it exists in a vacuum, that we forget that fixes aren’t limited to considering and discussing the work itself.  Here’s how three companies avoid that trap by putting a priority on treating their employees like human beings.

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How Love With Food Found its Working Rhythm

Love With Food is a subscription service that delivers a specially curated box of organic and all-natural snacks every month. For every box that’s sent, the company donates a meal to feed a hungry child.


Founder Aihui Ong embarked on Love With Food after seeing a friend forced to shutter her stir-fry sauce business because she was unable to secure wider distribution. Aihui (pronounced “I-we”) not only saw the need for alternative channels of distribution and marketing connecting food entrepreneurs to consumers but also an opportunity to help the one in five children in America at risk of hunger.

From a company of one in late 2011, Love With Food has grown to twelve employees. While growing any startup is challenging, Aihui notes that LWF’s mission helps her hire:  “In the last eighteen months, we’ve donated more than 100,000 meals, and that also draws the right talent to our company. People who want to join us really value that we’re giving back and doing something innovative to disrupt the food industry.”

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GitHub + iDoneThis: Bring Your Commits Into iDoneThis

Note: we have disabled the integration described below. It is to be replaced with an improved version. 

GitHub + iDoneThis Integration

Hellooo Octocat! We’re so excited to announce our new integration with GitHub that makes it a cinch to gain motivation and momentum from seeing your progress and sharing those steps forward with your whole team.

(Ready to go? Start by setting up the integration.)

Why GitHub?

When you’re coding all day, it’s easy to forget to take stock of the great work you and your team are getting done. We use GitHub here at iDonethis and realized that our commits are a rich exhibit of our work that often goes unrecognized. So even if you get a ton of stuff done every day, you can’t fully appreciate all your progress and accomplishments.

The content of commit messages provide pretty accurate reflections of what you get done during the workday — and it’s annoying to have to re-enter that information into iDoneThis. What happens when you don’t record those dones, though, is that you miss out on acknowledging and getting that higher level view of all your awesome work. When you fail to celebrate your amazing coding progress, you’re not fully using your potential motivation and planning power.

Plus, developer communication with other team members is a perpetual challenge and always seems to require a disruptive step out of your existing workflow. This integration streamlines that process. Now your coworkers not only get a better idea of what you’re up to, they’ll stop interrupting you with the inevitable “What are you working on?” and you can work in peace. Everyone wins!

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Jeff Bezos’s Hiring Anti-Pitch


Today, the competition for top tech talent is as fierce as it’s ever been, and without a high-performing team, it’s tough to survive. It makes sense that such intense competitive pressure drives startup founders to pitch their company to prospective hires in ever more grandiose terms, exaggerate how well their company is “crushing it,” and make their company culture sound like the happiest place on earth.

How else can you stand out to a top candidate who’s considering offers from all of the hottest companies?

It’s counterintuitive, but Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos takes a totally different approach to Amazon hiring: he gives prospects a hiring anti-pitch.

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Management, Leading and Success: The Best of the Internet

Weekend edition of link love! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week! 

8 Myths Startup Founders Hate

LinkedIn CEO’s Unconventional Meeting Technique

Brainwriting:  the solution to brainstorming’s loudmouth problem.

12 Things Successful People do Differently

3 Differences Between Managers & Leaders

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week: Sign up for our very new newsletter for thoughtful posts on how to work better, useful tips, & exclusive content here.


Send One Simple Email to Make Your Job Better

For better or for worse, bosses don’t spend much time thinking about your needs and worrying about to helping you with your career advancement. Bosses, like most people at work, are busy people with their own jobs, their own lives, and their own concerns.

That’s obvious. But the upshot is a harsh reality: your boss most likely has very little sense of what you’re accomplishing or even what you’re doing with your time. If you aren’t proactive about reporting your accomplishments, you’ll never get recognized for your good work.


The Power of One Simple Email

For many people, the thought of being more proactive about sharing accomplishments at work can be daunting and a real turnoff. Eric Barker at his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, provides an elegant solution to this problem that takes minimal effort and doesn’t require you to turn into a loudmouth braggart.

Every week, Eric writes, send one simple email to your boss that’ll make your life better.

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Why You Should Stop Keeping Score at Work


There’s probably been some time in your life when you’ve been just a touch surprised that you haven’t been hoisted upon shoulders and celebrated with cheers for your great achievement — whether you go as far back as that group English assignment making a diorama about summer reading or yesterday’s big client presentation.

Or maybe you’re more familiar with that fake almost-smile, as Joe Shmoe stood up to cheers and beers and pats on the back, leaving you amidst the ghosts of the hours of sweat and tears you put into the work.

It happens, and it stinks. But then again — we’re actually all credit hogs in our heads.

When you’re on a team, you don’t have an accurate sense of the proportion of your contribution. It’s just not that straightforward, because what happens in your very smart but usually selfish mind is that you underestimate your teammates’ contributions and overestimate yours.

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The Shit Sandwich and Other Terrible Ways to Give Feedback

Giving feedback well is one of the manager’s most difficult skills to master, because, as famed tech founder and investor Ben Horowitz points out, it’s incredibly unnatural.

If your buddy tells you a funny story, it would feel quite weird to evaluate her performance. It would be totally unnatural to say: “Gee, I thought that story really sucked. It had potential, but you were underwhelming on the build up then you totally flubbed the punch line. I suggest that you go back, rework it and present it to me again tomorrow.” Doing so would be quite bizarre, but evaluating people’s performances and constantly giving feedback is precisely what a CEO must do.

We’re tempted to feed our employees a shit sandwich and give feedback in other terrible ways, but it’s vital to your career as a manager that you don’t.  Here are three fundamentally flawed approaches that inexperienced managers take in trying to perform the dark art of giving feedback, and how to avoid them.

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The Dullest, Most Vital Skill You Need to Become a Successful Manager

The exemplary manager is often shown delivering a rousing speech that inspires her troops to achieve ever greater heights. But the truth is a lot less exciting than that.

To three highly effective and successful managers and executives, a boring, often-overlooked ability is one of the most vital skills you can have as a manager — the ability to write.

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