The Staff Meeting
If you work in an office you have been there, albeit not necessarily in a conscious state. The dreaded staff meeting or team meeting or task force meeting is feared by all, all except the organizer of course who sees such event as an opportunity to either (1) demonstrate to everyone else how smart they are or (2) find cover from making any decision that can be traced to an individual.
These days, the meeting is not so much an interchange of ideas as it is a group of people sitting at a table checking their Blackberry ® with an occasional glance at the speaker or making a comment (not infrequently out of context given they don’t know what is going on in the first place). The great mystery is how much communication via e-mail is actually taking place within the room via the Blackberry.
“Do you believe what she just said?” Are you as bored as I am right about now?” “Where are you going for lunch” “Don’t worry about all this when the meeting is over nobody will remember what was discussed anyway.”
Business these days has found comfort in a general lack of accountability (unless perhaps you happen to be the CEO of a bank or car company). No one can make a clear decision and stick with it, hence the need to “bounce things off other people” or to “socialize a change.” Of course, following this process you obtain such an array of differing and typically self-serving opinions you are back where you started and so…you call a meeting. But to get people in a meeting takes a bit longer than usual these days, because everyone is already scheduled for another meeting, perhaps a meeting to determine who has priority for using the conference room.
At the last meeting I attended I took a picture of the attendees which I have included below. Let me introduce you. First let me note that we have clearly met our diversity goals, but I apologize for the lack of clothing on the person on the right.
On the left we have our team leader who apparently likes to shout his enthusiasm for the project. Skipping to the member second from the right we find the team player. Her clothing just calls out “push the right buttons” and I am with you, count me in, and don’t bother me with the details, if our leader says it good, it’s good. However, I suspect her obvious glee is the mistaken idea that she is getting a free lunch. Let’s go back to the pizza delivery guy. Take a good look because he is a vanishing breed. In this day and age of the new frugality there are few pizzas delivered to a meeting. I am not sure why he is that happy other than he has quickly figured out he is better off not being at these meetings.
On the extreme right we see the first glimpse of reality, this guy (I am making an assumption of course) who bares a striking resemblance to the team leader is shaken by the enthusiasm being expressed, where is he going with this, he wonders. I bet whatever it is it means more work for me. No damn pizza is going to make up for this.
Finally, there is the gal in the front row, she is the most experienced member of the group and with the new endless meeting environment in the office she feels like a fish out of water (and looks it). She has all but given up.