Q: Having checked my diary for next week, I have back-to-back meetings on most days and this is a recurring theme. How can I achieve any work if I am constantly in meetings how do I cut down?

A: The answer is in your question. You don't believe you do any useful work in meetings, ergo stop going to meetings. Perhaps I should end there.

More pragmatically, Allan Leighton of Asda fame was a fierce critic of meetings and insisted that all chairs were removed from them. He found it had a dramatic effect.

A senior client of mine faced with your problem decided that she would have no meetings that exceeded one hour and she kept her diary clear every morning actually her diary said "business review", so her colleagues couldn't volunteer her for meetings.

I would be even tougher and suggest that you absent yourself from scheduled meetings and see if the world ends. Those you attend, challenge your colleagues "why are we here? " and consider if the outcome is delivered.

All too often having yet another meeting is a sloppy and lazy way to manage as it delays decisions. Be very harsh on the meeting culture in your business and you will see a dramatic improvement in your business and efficiencies that will benefit your bottom line. 

Q: I was told by one of my team that I was scary. I was rather surprised and hurt as I have always thought my management style is collaborative. I go out of my way to avoid confrontation. Should I change my behaviour?

A: It is often hurtful to hear perceptions of ourselves that are different from our own because it makes us think about how we project ourselves and how misunderstood our actions are and have been received.

And it also rather depends on what scary is.

Does it mean that you are determined and push along ideas until they are actioned and up and running? Could it mean that you make dictatorial decisions, and what you describe as collaboration actually means you scare others to agree with you before there's time to consider further options? That is one way to avoid confrontation!

Being scary does not necessarily result in negative action. Being scary might mean you are quick-witted, intelligent, and swift to come to a decision. So perhaps temper your first thoughts and let others make initial proposals. Don't always be the first to offer solutions.

However, if you are known for being able to action your ideas, present deliverables, then continue being scary. Just be more aware of others' perceptions.

If you have a question for Sue, email her at sue@mountstevensexecutivecoaching.com.