The No-Show epidemic
Note: this post asks more questions than it answers!
A training session is organised for an ad hoc team of 12 people. 10 of those commit to being there, while 2 decline after stating an initial interest. The day before the meeting, 2 more decline. Then 3 more decline in the hour just before the meeting starts. The reasons are quite varied.
5 attend a session originally organised for 12.
It’s less productive than planned.
For the ones in attendance, it’s disappointing and frustrating as they were interested in the views of the others. And most wonder why they themselves didn’t cancel.
What’s going on with all these cancellations?
This seems to be happening more and more, especially since lockdown. Not just trainings for ad hoc teams, but for required trainings at work, and trainings we’ve paid for personally.
Also meetings! We’re in so many meetings. And meetings don’t seem to have boundaries.
Some questions we probably all need to consider:
- Are we now so used to working virtually that we’ve learned to smash far too many events into a calendar? And we don’t realise it’s unrealistic until we’re pulled in two directions at once?
- Are meeting organisers not being clear about who to invite to a meeting?
- Do we not know how to prioritise? And say clear yeses and clear nos?
- Do we let FOMO drive us to say yes, even though it’s just not doable?
- Are we just being nice?
Here are some reasons I’ve heard for cancellations recently
- Being sick. Some of which happens due to too much work, stress (too many things going on – having said yes too often!) and not enough self-care.
- Being offended in the previous meeting with the same group and didn’t want to experience that again so they didn’t come back.
- “I forgot that it was actually a holiday here and the kids are out of school today.”
- “I have a physio appointment; the office only reminded me this morning.”
- “I need to take care of the kids – normally my partner does that but today she’s been messed around by a scheduling snafu.”
- “The house is being renovated and there’s no quiet place to join from.”
- “I thought I could join while on an airplane, but I think now that might not work.”
- “An important meeting is running over; I’ll be late.”
- “My project manager asked me to attend a client meeting.” The PM didn’t realise that this person was in a training required by the business and the employee didn’t feel she had the agency to choose or discuss the conflict.
We have too much on our plates
- Many of us are operating at full capacity. Or over capacity. And it doesn’t take much to end up sick or in need of some time out.
- The world is more and more stressful, and busier than ever. This combination will keep us from making sane choices.
- We need to learn how to provide a firm no.
- We need to prioritise.
- We need to understand the impact we have on others. We need to understand that our presence matters.
We can’t keep going in this direction. We need to do something different. Maybe we don’t need new skills, but we need to double down on some of the skills we already have.