Tyler Cowen who wrote in Forbes a couple weeks ago that meetings actually serve a purpose by “publicizing information about status” and conferring a sense of control on attendees who get to think of themselves as “insiders”. I think there’s a lot of truth to this idea, and more specifically, I think of most meetings as a form of social grooming.

Meetings are the business world equivalent of a group of monkeys sitting around together and grooming one another, and what coincidence that everyone around the conference table is wearing a monkey suit. Of course instead of cooing people just say nonsensical things like “productionalize” and “leverage team synergies”. That’s what the use of jargon evolves into, too, another form of social grooming and sharing membership in a group by using the group’s language.

But about meetings. By letting subordinates vent and suggest ideas, managers can reciprocate or appear to reciprocate at a very low cost. Aside from money, employees like to be heard or at least think that they’re being heard. Just holding and attending a one-hour weekly meeting can communicate that a manager cares. Yes, he will pluck for bugs in your hair, too.