In my professional career, I have learned the higher you go in an organization, the more meetings you are required to attend. Whether it be team meetings, meetings about meetings, meetings to prepare for upcoming meetings, or marathon conference calls, the work landscape is littered with meetings. Most meetings consist of agendas, warring parties vying for power or influence, or misguided attempts to justify someone’s salary. So how are these meetings like NASCAR?
Not bashing this… sport, but for the life of me, I have yet to understand the thrill of NASCAR. You have a number of cars driving around a circle at max speeds. I agree there is a lot of strategy involved, but they are still driving around a circle. No progress made.
Another issue I have had with the race is the length. Why not race only a couple of cars for say 10 laps, determine the winner and have something similar to a tournament style system determine the fastest car? In my humble opinion, this would make the races a lot more entertaining. The long, 200 laps of constant circling leaves anyone waiting for the inevitable, and sometimes exciting crash that breaks up the droning, circular marathon.
Are you noticing some similarities in your last few meetings and a NASCAR race? If not, let me point out some similarities:
1. Most meetings are like the track of most NASCAR races: circular. There is rarely a clear destination, despite the elegant five page agendas. Meetings, like any race, should have a clear destination point or point of resolution. Laps going around the same points are similar to the 200 laps of a race. It leaves most involved in the meeting waiting and (if like me) wishing for the crash to break up the circular motion around the same topics.
2. Memorable Meetings are judged by the crash. I remember when I was younger listening to my grandfather talk about the races. The topic of “the crash” always came up and seemed to be the more interesting portion of conversation. Think over the last ten meetings you have attended in the corporate world. Can you remember one major event of any of them? Any major progress made in any of the last ten? Now scan over the last 100 meetings. I bet the meetings where there was a “crash” are the ones coming quickest to the forefront of your mind right?
You don’t have to admit it, I will though. I tend to remember either the meetings where I was involved in a “crash” with someone else or there was a major “crash” at the meeting where I was the spectator. The fact remains, if a meeting is not properly planned and kept to a minimum, the crash, as in most in NASCAR races, will be inevitable.
Like the NASCAR races, meetings often involve high paced, high staked deals whether they be planning for a major project or undertaking or reviewing past results from a sales contest. The emotions are intense, and every single driver in the room is racing in their minds around a circular track. The longer they are there, the hotter the tires get with the internal traction of their nerves. The engines rev higher and higher. Before too long, one slight modulation in a turn and then you have it. A pile up. Thrilling for some, yet destructive for all.
3. The greater talent is in the pit crew. I have always amazed by the pit crew. I have personally sat and watched mechanics change the oil in my car and have yet to find one moving with the speed, accuracy, and focus of any of those I witnessed during a NASCAR race. Truth be told, the meetings held in most corporate settings are only successful because of the pit crew waiting outside of the meeting room who are ready to move with precision, speed, and diligence to actually get something done.
I must admit, I have watched movies and some documentaries about NASCAR. I am not a total hater of the sport. With that said, I have noticed the more successful drivers depend a great deal on the talent in the pit crew. As the driver is in the heat of the metaphorical battle, the pit crew chief is directing him, monitoring the car, and providing constant updates, advice, and other important directives. The ideal notion here is that the driver, or the one in the meeting, is depending on the talent outside of the room. Unfortunately, this does not always happen in Corporate America.
If you want some tips on how to make your meetings more effective and clear up your calendar, here are a few to get started:
- Recruiting Hack-Time Blocking
- 4 Dysfunctions of Recruiting
- The Time Hack Tip that Takes 10 Minutes
- Calendar Hack to Measure Productivity
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
I also have a resource center providing helpful templates, dashboards and other material related to Sprint Recruiting.