Managers Need To Know What Happens When A Meeting Is Postponed

Just exactly how should you go about rescheduling a meeting?
Just exactly how should you go about rescheduling a meeting?
Image Credit: Anne

Let’s face it – we are all busy. I mean really busy. We may start out a week with the best of hopes about what we’d like to be able to accomplish; however, generally by the time that we hit Wednesday things have been turned upside down on us and despite our manager skills we have very little hope of being able to get everything done that we had been hoping to do. This change in plans can have a big impact on any meetings we’ve planned: we may have to postpone them.

The Impact Of Postponing A Meeting

So before we dive into this discussion too deeply, perhaps we should first take a look at just exactly how many times you can get away with postponing the same meeting? Everyone seems to agree that the rule is “three strikes and then you are out.” The person that you’ve been trying to set the meeting up with is going to start to think that you are giving them the brushoff when you have rescheduled the same meeting this many times. They simply are no longer going to be willing to meet with you.

Rescheduling a meeting is sorta a big deal. You are putting your reputation with the person that you are planning on meeting with at risk. The person that you are trying to meet with is going to start to wonder about you. They may start to believe that you don’t have the maturity to handle your schedule. Alternatively, they may start to think that you have a problem saying “no”. Finally, they may think that you no longer really want to meet with them because they were not all that clear on why the two of you were planning on getting together in the first place. None of this is covered in our manager training.

One of the things that we need to understand is that if we end up postponing a meeting with someone, it is going to change how they view the meeting. They may come to believe that we don’t think that the meeting is all that important. This means that the meeting will start to become less important to them. When you do finally have a chance to sit down with them, they may spend less time with you than had been planned or they may provide you with less information than you had originally hoped to gain.

How To Postpone A Meeting Correctly

Let’s face it: life happens. When it happens there are things that are out of our control. We may end up having to postpone a meeting. The good news is that there is a correct way to go about doing this so that it won’t cause problems. What you are going to want to try to do is to find a way to keep the person that you were going to be meeting with from feeling slighted. When you are telling them that the meeting won’t be happening, you need to be sure to apologize and to make sure that you show enthusiasm for both having the meeting and getting together with the person.

Something that I struggle with myself is just exactly how much information that you give to the other person when you have to postpone a meeting. I’m the kind of person who wants to share everything with you even if you really don’t care why I’m postponing the meeting. It’s not always the best idea to give the other person too much information about why the meeting is being postponed. The reason is because you may be telling the other person that they are not your highest priority. You do need to balance this: there will be times when giving more information about why you are postponing the meeting will give you more credibility.

When you have to postpone a meeting, this is an opportunity for you to make it up to the other person by giving them more than they were going to receive from you. One way to go about doing this is to offer them choices. You can do this by providing them with a list of your open dates and being flexible on when during the day you can meet with them. Another great way to make up for postponing a meeting one or more times is to agree to meet with the person for a longer period of time. Our time is our most precious possession and so this offer will show the other person that you really do want to meet with them and that you are sorry that you’ve had to put this meeting off.

What All Of This Means For You

If we were in charge of the world, then we could control how every day went. However, we are not in charge of the world and so we find ourselves often having our plans disrupted by events that we had not counted on happening. When things get changed around on us, we may find ourselves in a situation where we are going to have to postpone a meeting that we’ve set up. This can start to cause all sorts of problems.

Experts agree that you will only be allowed to postpone the same meeting twice before the person that you were going to be meeting with will give up and walk away. You have to be careful when you reschedule a meeting because your reputation is at risk. By postponing a meeting, you will be changing how the person that you will be meeting with will view the meeting. When you are forced to postpone a meeting, you’ll want to apologize and tell the other person that you are still looking forward to the meeting. When rescheduling the meeting, look for ways that you can make it up to the person that you’ll be meeting with by being flexible.

We are always going to be finding ourselves in situations where our schedules change on us. When this happens, we may have to reschedule a meeting that we’ve set up. If we are careful and do the postponing of the meeting with grace and style then we can make sure that the other person will still be excited to meet with us and it will almost be like team building. Yes, you can postpone meetings – just be careful how you go about doing this.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: If you have to postpone a meeting a second time, should you just go ahead and cancel it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Having a manager job sure seems like it should be something that would make you happy. I’m willing to guess that since you’ve worked so hard to get this position most days you are at least fairly happy with the idea of going to work and putting your manager skills to work. However, in every job that we have, there will probably always come a time when for whatever reason we decide that we really hate the job that we currently have. Hmm, looks like we’re in a tricky situation. What’s a manager to do now?