Monday, November 07, 2005

Meetings , No Thanks!

I f you are employed, it's a good bet you spend great chunks of your life in meetings. This is normal. For some reason, meetings are an essential part of doing your job.

Judging by the number of people who are "in a meeting at the moment" whenever you try to get hold of them, the proportion of the nation's workforce actually engaged in real work must be tiny. The phrase "we need to have a meeting about this" has become the standard response to any problem that requires initiative or original thought.

Most people in meetings either don't know why they are there or would be more useful if they weren't. LOL, This is because the wrong people tend to be invited to meetings. Attending meetings is not so much about getting something done. It is more about establishing and defending your position in the workplace hierarchy.

People spend their whole working lives yearning to be invited to important meetings. If, for example, you attend meetings on finance or corporate strategy, you are obviously more important than the people attending meetings on, say, the build-up of used coffee cups in the office kitchen. And if you are important enough to attend the important meetings, you don't have to attend the unimportant ones.

Chief among unimportant meetings is the team meeting. Team meetings involve the members of a department or business unit getting together to discuss the great issues that unite and drive them all, such as the poor lighting over the snack machine. I shouldn't say that, because the main meetings i attend ARE team meetings, although whilst i am head of te tam, my freakin team is missing, gone AWOL, has been for a month, so i am the team!

Team meetings occur weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on how often the manager thinks the team needs to know about the exciting new management thoughts he or she has been having.

Team meetings allow the manager to thwart pay-rise ambitions by drawing attention to the failures and inadequacies of any team members who are more competent than the manager. I love this, especially now, when the firm xmas party is all anyone else can think about..hehehe, i have news for them and it's all bad!!! When there is no pay-rise thwarting to be done, team members are sometimes bullied into giving short presentations about their job. In saying this, i do not bully, i ask for role play heh! This is so the manager can try to figure out what they actually do.

Management meetings are the most important of all. These allow managers to get together and brag about how they have thwarted their team's pay-rise ambitions, and thus calculate how big their annual bonuses will be. Hah! If this were only true. I've been angling for a pay rise for 12 months.

All meetings are run by a chair. By chair, I mean the person running the meeting and not the piece of furniture being sat on by the person running the meeting.

The chair gets to allocate hard work to everyone else, while leaving their own workload light, ill-defined, and without deadlines to distract them from spending quality time alone with their personal assistant. In my case i have no PA :(

In the old days a chair was called a chairman. Eventually it was realised this is sexist because sometimes the chairman is a woman, or spends time after work dressed up as one.

To improve the efficiency of meetings, some organisations hire meeting consultants.

• Author's note: This column contains several unfair generalisations about meetings. Before managers and consultants complain about this, please be aware I propose to correct this in the future. Provided, of course, that I'm not in a meeting.

till next time, Michelle.


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