Like any other part of your job, going to a meeting is worth doing well. The key is not so much what you do, it’s what you don’t do:
1. Don’t take the meeting off track. Even if you’re every bit as funny as you think you are, save it for later. 2. Don’t work on your laptop. If you don’t need to be at the meeting, don’t go. If you need to be there, but lose interest in what’s going on, bring things to a close. 3. Don’t start side conversations. Even one of these can distract everyone else. More than one and no one can hear anything. 4. Don’t yawn, close our eyes, roll your eyes, snicker, or any of the other passive aggressive favorites.
Okay, after 4 "don’ts", things are sounding pretty negative. Here’s a "do" and a parting thought:
1. Make it worthwhile for everyone (yourself included) to have you in the room.
Once again, like every other part of your job, the time you spend in a meeting is time out of your life. Time you won’t get back. Make it count, or spend your time some other way.
Developers make more mistakes than any other profession I can think of. The editor you use finds some. Your compiler finds some. Your unit tests find some. Static analyzers find some. The QA team finds some. And, as we all know all too well, your customers find some.
I was recently talking to a friend and co-worker about developer mistakes and we reached a valuable conclusion: senior developers don’t make rookie mistakes. The result is that it appears that they make fewer mistakes, but the quantity isn’t what’s important. Senior developers don’t necessarily make fewer mistakes, they simply catch them sooner. No else sees the majority of their mistakes because of the way they perform their work. Senior developers know what it takes to deliver good software and at the critical decision points, they do what it takes to keep things on track.
Ask yourself: When was the last time you made a rookie mistake? If it’s been a couple of years (or a couple of projects), then chances are that you’re firmly in "senior-level" territory. If you’ve made any in the last few months, though, then you might want to spend some time focusing on the way you work instead of adding new tools or techniques to your repertoire.