Monday, October 8, 2007

Sorry... gotta rush!

If you’re in the corporate world, you’ll never get enough of them! You hate being in one of them, but you’re always rushing from one to another. What is it about them that always draws people to it like flies to a flame? And why is the corporate world so obsessive-compulsive about it? No one word in the office evokes such a wide plethora of emotions as this one. This post is dedicated to this monument of management. Meetings – The favorite management pastime!

The question, “What is a meeting?” is yet to be answered. Though most of us have been in one, none of us can really explain it. But this enigma continues to thrive in the corporate world. A tougher question yet is, “Why do I have to be a part of a meeting?” and the generally acceptable answer is, “Because my boss is bored” or, “Someone needs to feel important” or even “Damned if I knew! I’ve been attending this since the time I moved in”. I shall try and clarify my understanding and you could also help me out here…

What is a meeting? Hmmm… A meeting is a form of expression. I endeavor to generalize a few validations for an interaction to be counted as a meeting:

It requires more than one person. It would be silly to announce, “I am going to meet me”. If someone actually does that, this will lead to another meeting of his supervisors, peers, and anyone else interested to determine if the company can afford to institutionalize him.
More than one person speaks in a meeting. This is unless some people are allowed to speak at home.
A meeting has a specific agenda. This is a must. But there is no rule that the discussion has to be around it. You may call a meeting about growing attrition and end up with a heated discussion on the geopolitical scenario.
It is time-bound. Again flexible. People may come in about five minutes to the meeting (if its your boss, he’s on time, if it’s you, you have nothing better to do), five minutes into the meeting (again, if its your boss, he’s had something better to do and if it’s you, you need to be more punctual). Some people even rush in about the time things are getting wrapped up. Your level in the organization determines the attitude of the attendees.
You agree to meet again. This is mandatory and is the only rule that is sacrosanct. You have to carry on the flame.

You may have a meeting for many reasons:
Reviews: You made a collective commitment. If you’ve kept it, the review meeting is a happy event. Otherwise, you become the object of collective hostility and ridicule.
Projects: You decide to do something. You make a team with the hope that someone actually will know how to… You get together and fix responsibilities. This is generally followed by a review.
Goal Setting: You are bored. No one knows what is to be done. You call a meeting at an exotic location (preferably a resort), eat, drink make merry. You then come back and decide to hold a ‘project’ meeting for the same participants to achieve the objective.
Budgeting: The simplest! You have money; you meet and decide how to spend it. You don’t have money; you meet to find out who’s spending more.
Pre-Brief: An activity is planned; you meet to decide how to go about it. You lay down the ground rules and hope everyone sticks to it.
De-Brief: After an activity, you chat up to see how it went. Goes well with cocktails.
Appraisals: This is the only meeting you wish you never had to attend! You realize that your boss actually knows more that you do… at-least about what you’ve been asked to do.
Interviews: This process usually follows the appraisal. You need to replace someone that quit following an appraisal.
Exit Interviews: Almost as inevitable as the sunset. What comes in has to go out. An employee decides to leave; you want to know why. Bad decision. Now that s/he is leaving, they would generally speak their mind out about you and your organization, shattering a few beliefs.
Rituals: The most common variety held for about the same reason you celebrate Gandhi Jayanti. It’s been that way and I don’t want to be the one that changes it!

A meeting makes a manager and not the other way round. A manager is incomplete without a meeting. It’s like a smoker craving for a drag. And it requires no specific reason but to satisfy your need to feel important. And even though most people in a meeting can’t tell a pie-chart from their elbow, you keep a grim expression and keep nodding (for whatever reason). And I’m positive that most of you are reading this in between meetings or on your way to them. I know I’ve written this between (ahem… and during) them.

But I have to add that I love them. They amuse me no end. Especially the way some people behave! It’s as if their life force was derived from the amount of entertainment they unwittingly provide us. My work life would be a drag without meetings. I shamelessly admit that. So, in and out of meetings, I Keep Walking!


Hyacinths said...

awesomeness again! :) consider a career change?

keya said...

hey that was eye opener and a must read for all who aspire to become managers...;)

Anonymous said...

Yes, now you have to make fun of the daily routine!


The Walker said...

@Hyacinths: You flatter me. Again :)

@Keya: You bet Keya. I plan to send this post for a Nobel Prize on Management. Wish me luck!

@Prats: I think I touched a raw nerve there, but that's the story of our lives. Sadly so :(