The name Elon Musk is not far from the lips (or should that be beaks?) of Twitter users these days. Since he took over the Twitterverse, my news feed has been ablaze with threats to leave and moans about Mastadon – a potential Twitter alternative.
The good news is if you don’t turn on your heating – and who does at the moment? – you can always get a toast from the plethora of Elon Musk-related burns mocking Mr. “Bastion of Free Speech” Musk – who throws a tantrum when someone makes a joke about him.
Yes, Elon may be the richest dude in the world, but he also tends to let his mouth say it all – regardless of the phrase or sometimes even the truth. That’s why I was surprised when his email to the workforce with six tips for productivity resurfaced this week, and I realized it wasn’t completely bullshit. I mean, you should ignore the part about following “logic instead of rules”, the kind of nonsense spouted by people who have always been wealthy enough to bend or break rules without significant consequences.
Musk hates work meetings. He thinks it is a waste of time and resources. And this is the only thing I can agree on with the man who dabbles in conspiracy theories and spreading misinformation about Covid.
Apparently, in 2018 Elon took a break from wearing his tinfoil hat to write a few gems of wisdom for Tesla staff. The six tips from above continue to boomerang into the public consciousness, perhaps because we’re all so shocked that Musk has said something sensible for a change.
Three tips from Musk deal with the futility of meetings:
- “Please fetch [rid] of all large gatherings, unless you are sure they will add value to the entire audience, in which case keep them very short.”
- “Also, avoid frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with a very urgent matter. Meeting frequency should decrease rapidly once the urgent issue is resolved.
- “Walk out of a meeting or end a conversation as soon as it is clear that you are not adding value. It’s not rude to leave, it’s rude to let someone stay and waste their time.”
Admittedly, the latter reveals (even more) Musk’s prerogative. Only someone with wealth and power – something Elon has enjoyed all his life – can truly walk away from a meeting without a call from HR.
Imagine the conversation: “Look, Janet, I know it was a department meeting that was mandatory for all employees, but actually it wasn’t rude of me to leave, it’s rude of you to waste my time. . what is that? Yes… I understand what ‘performance management’ means… and should I take this discussion as a verbal warning? Eh… I think we should follow the logic now, not the rules, Jan.’
But meetings are definitely the dementors of the workplace, sucking the energy, motivation and sometimes the will to live out of the staff leaving them exhausted, bored and dehydrated. Meetings are not just joy killers, their only function is often to maintain organizational hierarchies.
They enable managers to exert power over colleagues. I’ve attended way too many meetings where seniors tried their best to talk over each other. They might as well have saved us all a few hours and just compared penis sizes and done with it. As it was, the cacophony of verbal affectation was migraine.
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I always remember a co-worker saying unofficially that they were “a big fan of getting everyone in the same room.” Dear God, I thought, this person is a threat to society. Getting everyone in the same room is rarely a good idea — not even family members at Christmas — but even if it’s helpful for work, it’s better to keep meetings short, infrequent, focused, and small. A little bit of meeting hygiene helps keep employees happy, I think.
One of my former workplaces had three and four hour meetings. What a gigantic waste of time. As I looked around the table at the glazed eyes, as some gobshite humbly worked his way through a presentation, I wondered what the point of human existence was. Surely it’s not a good use of time – or even life – to be subjected to Martin van Estates nagging for half an hour about the difference between charging cables?
Anyway, in my mind, despite his surprisingly sensible guiding at meetings, Elon Musk remains a humorless, overprivileged, and obscenely wealthy megalomaniac — but hey, I’m sure he’s not too concerned about that.
In the meantime, the rest of us will continue to fumble our way into pointless, hierarchy-affirming meetings because, quite frankly, unlike billionaire Elon, we don’t have much of a choice.