Mandy Amanda Team Building for Entrepreneurs | Get organized, grow your team | Enjoy Success
Team Building for Entrepreneurs | Get organized, grow your team | Enjoy Success

Using Mandatory (when it isn’t)

Let’s talk about mandatory meetings. I’m not talking about the REAL mandatory meetings, the meetings where bonuses are presented, where performance is reviewed, where critical conversations are held.  I’m talking about MANDATORY meetings…

Ya know – the one that is optional.

wait – what?

The trend in the current workplace is to leverage “scary” words to communicate urgency or critical messages.  This often happens because managers are not truly empowered by leadership.

Unfortunately, the word “mandatory” is one of the words that has become watered down.  It is used so often and enforced so little that it has changed to mean “you’re invited.”

For fun, open your calendar and search for the word mandatory in the meeting title.  Review your email responses for the last 30 or 90 days.  How many “mandatory” events do you see?

Even better – for the last 5 mandatory meetings you attended, consider those who did not.  Were there consequences?

Using it wantonly

Unenforced, the word mandatory begins to create apathy.  For every mandatory meeting that has less than 100% participation, the team rolls their eyes – nods toward the empty seats and drops your leadership credibility a notch or two.

If those horrible mandatory invites continue, eventually, the only people who show up will be the die-hard rule followers who will martyr themselves over the fact that they participated in the “mandatory” event.

Using “mandatory” without consequence undermines your authority.

Ignoring it yourself

For each mandatory thing (deadlines count too) you opt out of or ignore, you send a LOUD message to your team that they are not important.  Your subordinates see this message and follow your example, even for your meetings.  Your peers see this and begin to see you as arrogant and self-important.  Your superiors see defiance and disinterest.

As a a leader, consider the alternative when the word mandatory appears.  If there is not a definable loss as a result of not participating, then remove the word.

I recently worked with a group where the entire IT department avoided mandatory meetings.  From the top down.


The moral to the story

Stop using the word Mandatory.  People will not self-destruct for non-compliance.  Instead, list the outcomes a participant will see as a result of participation and the impact of electing to not participate.

Consider creating a culture of participation if participation is important.  Invite people to engage in discussion.  Make sure people know why they are in the room (see the article on meetings if you don’t know why).  If participation isn’t important, then stop expecting it and certainly don’t “demand” it.