Monday, October 8, 2007

I hate meetings

Meetings……ugh. I hate the words “staff meeting” or “employee meeting”, or worse…”Sales Meeting”. Seldom in my 20 years of adult life after high school have those little words EVER had any inkling of a positive connotation.

I once worked at a car dealership, and we had our weekly sales meeting on Saturday mornings at about 7:30 AM. Invariably, the meeting was a golden opportunity to badger the sales staff for not selling enough, even when sales were good. Nothing we ever did was good enough. For a good 30 minutes or so, we’d be berated, and then the floor was open if anyone wanted to say anything. Nobody ever did, because it did absolutely no good and it was easier to just sit there with a blank look, let the GM and the Sales Manager rant, and then be done with it. Afterwards, we pee-ons would congregate at the coffee maker and lick our wounds.

The saddest part of this was that after being whipped like dogs in the street we then had to go put on a game-face and try & sell cars all day on what was always the busiest day of the week. Needless to say, bad management was a primary reason that sales were flat.

I also once worked at a pool & hot tub establishment. Those sales meetings were just as big a goat rope. It was standard by-rote repetition every week, going over what that week’s sale was, and each week the sale was exactly the same. It was a total sham. We just changed the name of the sale each week. Without fail, 8:00 AM every Saturday morning, threats of dire consequences for sales being flat, and the latest swindle of a sales pitch. And that was just a normal sales meeting. God forbid the store owner or his lackey daughter stick their beaks into it. Then it just became a concentration camp. You all suck, now go sell & make me rich.

I just had a meeting Friday at my current place of wage-slavery, and as soon as my shift supe said “We’re gonna have a quick meeting after lunch”, I knew something crap was afoot, and I was right. Nothing good ever comes from unannounced meetings. Now our schedule is no longer 12-10…it’s 12 till whenever production stops. No set schedule anymore; you work till the SS guards set you free.

Tell you what, managers of the world. Here are a few simple rules of etiquette for running a meeting without making your employees want to garrote you with a bootlace:

Be respectful of other people’s time. Just because YOU have all sorts of unoccupied time doesn’t mean that others do as well. Don’t call a meeting just because you can. Don’t call a meeting when a memo will suffice. Pulling everyone together and stopping work just to say that there’s gonna be a 401(k) meeting next Tuesday is just stupid.

Don’t call a meeting without an actual agenda. Again, be prepared and have a plan of action. Don’t do it on the fly and waste people’s valuable time. The old line “I suppose you’re wondering why I called you all here” just serves to piss people off.

And finally, don’t use a meeting, especially first thing in the morning on a busy production day, to belittle and berate, and then expect people to go perform at peak levels. Don’t use a sales meeting as a bitch session. If you have a negative to cover, cover it first and then move on to positive notes. Don’t EVER end a meeting on a negative because, trust me, your employees are going to remember that as the only point to the whole meeting. And even if the sole purpose of the meeting was to address a problem, you’d better find something positive to end with. Don’t send them off pissed and dejected.

Heed my words, or you’ll find yourself wondering why some smartass employee wrote “Arbeit Machts Frei” over the bathroom stall…

1 comment:

Randy Barnett said...

Even worse, required attendance at a meeting by conference call...