Are 1-on-1 Meetings Killing Productivity?

I am a huge proponent of the one-on-one (O3) meeting. For any team I manage, we do them religiously. For any manager I coach, I stress them as THE most important thing they can do.

So imagine my dismay when I saw an article that was saying that the O3 meeting was killing productivity. My first thought was "that's trash". My second thought was "if this isn't trash, I have a lot of apologizing to do."

I won't say the article is trash, but the headline writer should be relieved of duty.

Read the whole article, but here is the short story. Managers couldn't just drop by your desk anymore, so they set up more O3 meetings than they had in the past. This caused a huge increase in meeting time. That meeting time is taking away from getting tasks done - so O3's are killing productivity.

Now, let's dig a bit deeper. First, it fails to mention that we have a ton of data that the previous meetings - the ones that existed before the O3 - were not always useful. One estimate says that only 20% of meeting time is productive. It might now be O3's that are hurting productivity, but the 80% of meeting time that is wasted. Second, the article even says that the O3 time was most likely more useful.

In other words, the meetings that were useful are the productivity killer because they are new. No blame gets put on the old meetings that aren't useful.

In summary, if you want to be helpful, keep doing O3's and eliminate all other meetings.