How can I handle unplanned meetings, scheduled at very short notice?

If such meetings happen on a regular basis, one must explore why.

Such meetings tend to disrupt the rhythm of the team and have an adverse impact on the overall productivity.

Here are a few tips to avoid or at least reduce such interruptions.

  • Publish a protocol for responses to various types of issues raised; this will help set expectations with others who need some responses or solutions
    • It is not necessary that every call or request needs to be handled immediately
    • If the time is not suitable or convenient, it is perfectly OK to suggest an alternate time or a call back, based on other prior commitments
  • Schedule a rhythm of discussions
    • Standup meetings
    • Grooming sessions
    • Technical review or solutioning discussions
    • Planning discussions : release, sprint etc
    • Retrospectives : sprint, release etc
  • Identify SMEs / SPOCs for specific topics
    • While a question might come to you, it may not be possible to respond authoritatively, when specialist knowledge or experience is required
    • Identifying the right set of persons to handle the requests would not only increase the confidence of the persons raising he points, but also possibly reduce the time required to respond
  • Also declare some time windows as ‘quiet times’ aka DND times
    • During this period every day, all team members would be free to focus on their own responsibilities without any interruptions
    • This will help every member to identify and schedule work that they would take up without any chances of interruptions
    • Having time slots for regular lunch, tea etc would also fall in this category
  • Have a common team calendar
    • Encourage team members to expose their calendars to all the team members
    • This visibility will help in reducing the conflicts for time requests
What do you think?

Leave a Reply

What to read next