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Company meetings a waste of time

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Well company meetings are all a waste of time in my opinion.  The scenario is always the same.  There you are happily working away, making progress and perhaps earning money when suddenly an omenous email drops into your inbox.  The subject line reads "Please reserve for company meeting".

My immediate thought is to try and arrange for a vital client meeting, organise a relative to die, or to develop a serious but not fatal illness just before the appointed date.  I have seriously considered faking my own death to avoid the dreaded event and then applying for my old job - Reggie Perrin style.

Unfortunately a second email arrives, something along the lines of "this is a company event and everyone is expected to attend", usually sent by some 17 year old girl with a strange orange colour who shuffles papers for the "big man".  Kind of like a filing oompa-lumpa.

This email is sent out because loads of people have suddenly put in holiday requests or scheduled client visits or even invasive dental procedures for that day.  She (the 17 year old) really likes the power that being able to "order" far more intelligent people around for the next few weeks.  Power to the Satsuma race...

Talking of power, of course its important to realise these meetings have two key aims.  The first aim is for the top people have their corporate egos stroked at the company's expense - forcing a hundred or so people into a room at their whim must surely give them a wiggle of authority.  The second is to "flush out" the uncommitted, the doubters, the heretics - people who think this kind of thing is a waste of time and money.  The "negative" people - I am proud to be one.  Problems are not opportunities, problems are problems.  Problem solving is good.  Opportunity Solving is not.

Company meetings are a waste of time - the conference And so comes 4-6 weeks of trying to ignore it and then the inevitable mad rush to organise travel - it will always be somewhere inconvenient to all except "the boss" - reorganise travel, organise accommodation, cancel accommodation, have argument about accommodation ("Surely you want to stay over for the party?"), decide to travel on the day anyway.

Oh and its "Smart but casual".  What the heck does that mean, anyone? If you don't actually play golf then you end up buying some awful pullover or "slacks" (whatever they are) or something equally bad.  For me usually its suit for work, gardening jeans and cheap Matalan T-shirt for the weekend - maybe with bolognese stains on it.  But who cares.  Smart but casual is the no mans land, black hole or vastness of space-type void of dress codes.

On the day the schedule usually goes like this :

8.30am - Arrival and coffee.
Yes we all had to travel really early for this rubbish so we need something to get us going.  Cheap hotel provided coffee and shortbread does it for me every time.  Oh look, a free hotel provided notepad and pencil.  Sucky sweet anyone?

9.00am - Welcome from the Chairman/Chairwoman.
First of our PowerPoint marathons.  Yes we can read too, so I really don't need you to read it for me.  Oh fancy sliding text too - I'm all tingly now.  I have already coloured in all the spaces in the printed heading on my note pad.  If it has a double "o" word in it (e.g. Hood Hotel) I have made the middle O's look like MagOO eyes.

11.00am - Break and "Networking" opportunity.
We all dart off for more coffee and shortbread.  The queue for the coffee lengthens as the first to arrive can't work out how to get the vital black juice out of the catering jug that arrived 30 minutes ago when the first session was scheduled to finish.

People then spot their usual cliques and gather with people they already know, looking suspiciously at that group from "up north", or "down south".

Someone spends 5 minutes looking for hotel staff to get hot water for their "herbal tea".

11.15am - Second session.
It starts early because the first one overran.  We catch sight of PowerPoint opening the presentation as the "tech savvy" management types struggle to get their silver shiny laptop to talk to the projector.  73 slides - Deep joy!

10% of the audience file in late, there are only 2 loos for 45 people.  The characters depicted in Tenko had it better.

After an hour I usually find my mind wandering, and I begin to realise just how ugly senior managers in their 50s are, and realise they are the only group of humans who know what "smart but casual" is.  What's more scary is that is how they dress when "off duty".

12.30pm - Lunch arrives.
We can all smell it, but we can't get to it as the second speaker is still teaching us how to read.  Sandwiches curl, warm finger food becomes cold, coffee also cools, cool water becomes tepid.  Stomachs rumble.

1.13pm - Lunch.
Headlong rush either to grab the only edible sandwich (does anyone outside the world of catering or more likely M&S food really make those sorts of butties for themselves?) or to get out for a fag.  Lunch is also cut short as we are "running late", like its our fault for not reading fast enough.

1.35pm - "Can we all get ready for the next session please"
Mad downing of "kettle chips", strange leafy salad things and orange juice, last chance for the loo again.  The room gains a unmistakable aroma of stale catering and bad breath.

Various electronic devices and phones vibrate, buzz, beep or make an old fashioned phone like noise. The "funny" ones make their "unfunny" noises.

2.00pm - Coffee arrives.
More shortbread, yummy. Coffee again begins to cool as we are still learning to read.

Last year we were ace apparently.

2.15pm - Break and more "networking"
Cliques have run out of gossip and take to texting partners or significant others (or both) and not talking to each other.  People important enough to have scheduled transport begin to make excuses about leaving early.

Everyone else stares at them like prisoners watching relatives leave after visiting time.

There is another queue for the loo. All that orange juice and fizzy water.

Someone complains about it being "too hot / cold / humid / dry / blue / dusty in here" for the 1123rd time.

2.23pm - Final session.
"Big man" introduces final speaker and then takes 5 minutes to explain that the final speaker has to hurry, thus wasting any time the speaker may save.

3.10 - Final session interrupted.
We thought that was the end, now there is...

3.13 - Closing speech.
The finale, the magnum opus, the closing ceremony.  Our leader feels he needs to summarise what everyone else has said.  By repeating it - slowly!  He is of course an expert presenter so sounds enthusiastic, genuine and totally bereft of personality.

If you are unfortunate to work for a company which likes to "reward" people then at this point a gathering of "winners" will take place.  This is usually a mix of the most "loyal" (boot lickers - or worse) and the "trod upon" - "Geoff managed to complete this 3 week project in just 6 days..." - all of which makes the gift token from WHSmith all the more valued.  Gosh, I could have had those HM Govt. gift vouchers I could spend anywhere, like the pub.  This is so much better...

5.23pm "Don't forget we will be having drinks the bar"
Oh no we won't as we really want to go home.  Actually we wanted to go home about 6 hours ago.  There is a mad scramble for the coats and the door.  Civilians may get trampled in the rush.

The middle managers / regional heads / team leaders go through the fleeing masses trying to rally troops to stay for the "social".

The masses dart around like those huge shoals of fish attempting to avoid hunting sea lions, you can almost hear David Attenborough describing the scene.

7.00pm - Travelling home.
We find the flight / train / motorway home is late / cancelled / blocked.  If we had been out about 13 minutes earlier we would have been alright.

10.00pm - Finally stagger home.
No less than fourteen hours after leaving the meeting that is.  Consider opening wine and then remember that the genius that runs this lot has scheduled "our get together" on a Monday, and we have a meeting at 9 on Tuesday.

Around a week later the 17 year old gets another thrill of power with a second email : "Please rate the presentations and let us know what you would like to see more of in these meetings in the future.  All feedback is ANONYMOUS.  Please log into this website with your personnel number to register your feedback..."

A week after that comes the next dreaded email. "The Christmas party will be held on..."

By: Employee 774


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Nick

Nick

Yeah they are a waste of time indeed so what? They still have to be done because the fat-cat company directors need to find something to do in order to justify their huge pay package.
Nick
22nd Oct 13 10:32

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ahforfoulkessake

ahforfoulkessake

I've never quite experienced the scenario above but I've noticed in my job that we have usually once maybe 2 times some weeks that the management from the client side and the managers from the construction company I work for turn up at our site and use our meeting room/canteen to spend roughly 3 hours or more at a time to discuss whatever involving the job we are working on.
There's only me and site manager there most of the time and I have to look busy when they come round when there is not really much to do.
They are ok people but I get the feeling the reason they come to our site instead of just sending a round robin email of all the stuff they want to discuss to all those who would be there at the meeting is that they either want to get out of unpleasant tasks/bored with nothing doing at their offices and still get paid as they're all on salary anyway.
From what my manager tells me and other site managers the office folk above us at the construction company do sod all most of the time at their offices and practically expect us to run a flag up the pole when they deem it fit to visit their lowly minions.
ahforfoulkessake
21st Sep 13 15:33

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Mr Rupert

Mr Rupert

I am glad I am not in the workplace any more. In my PAYE days there were rarely any meetings except for upper management. These days, as an ex-partner will testify, every other day there's an "important meeting". She says most of them are time-wasting exercises. Also, staff are habitually emailing one another even if they sit in the same room! When I queried this, it is apparently to "cover their ar8es" so they have everything in writing in case there's an issue raised later. How pathetic.

Many company meetings seem to be an excuse to stop actual work and spend time theorising and simple decision making when it would be perfectly possible to resolve matters with basic intelligence and a brief one-to-one consultation with someone.

Once, when someone was said to be in a meeting they were considered important. But now, every bu88er seems to be in a meeting! And mostly pretty pointless if you ask me.
Mr Rupert
13th May 13 23:46

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MikeP

MikeP

I am on the board of an organisation which has just appointed a young pushy woman with some kind of degree from a silly pseudo-university. She thinks she is God's gift to the world, and tries to dominate meetings with her inane babble and 'Powerpoint' and 'Timeline' presentations. Nothing, not even sending out a memo to the other board members, can be accomplished without a lengthy discussion about the 'strategy for taking this forward'.

I have come to the conclusion that the accomplishments of these meetings are in directly inverse proportion to the number of meetings and the time they waste, not to mention the amount of tit and leg that she shows when she addresses the board. For me it's a free lunch, but sadly there are people whose livelihood depends on this wittering witch and her coven.
MikeP
15th Mar 10 21:50

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-16
Older Worker

Older Worker

Hicks, I would do that if I thought senior management would do anything about it. My impression of these people is that they are just not interested. They are actually incompetent. They have been promoted to levels beyond their capabilities. They have built the bureacratic structure that lies between myself and them to protect themselves from intelligent beings. We at the coalface all know they are absolutely useless at what they do. They are dragging company down and our careers as well. At company meetings all they do is spout garbage, the latest meaningless philosophies about management style, all rubbish quite frankly. I have lost trust in them altogether.

The fact is our customers are losing confidence in what we provide. Day by day we leak business away to our competitors. Only the massive nature of the firm, over 50,000 staff, protects it from immediate demise. The lord at the top is nothing short of being a megalomaniac. It's an illness really.

I am not alone with these truths
Older Worker
27th Jan 10 06:27

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-3
Mr Hicks

Mr Hicks

Older Worker, why not bypass your boss entirely? write a letter of your ideas, send them to higher management and also make photo copies of the letter to distribute to fellow colleagues. At your next meeting reveal what you have done and present your boss with a fait accompli.
Mr Hicks
26th Jan 10 23:29

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19
Gainsborough lad.

Gainsborough lad.

If they didn't have company meetings, some of those in their offices, and some of those in charge, wouldn't have anything to do,

Perhaps some of them like getting everyone together, to say to themselves "wow, I am in charge of all you lot, and you all have to answer to me"
Gainsborough lad.
26th Jan 10 21:46

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2
Older Worker

Older Worker

I am a principal with 40 years of work experience. My boss says I have nothing of value to add to how the work is undertaken. He says my views are worthless, pointless. He will not put my views forward to higher management. He says it's a a waste of time. Nothing will change. He considers it a waste of time. He refuses to discuss it in the team meeting.

I despair. The firm is going downhill.
Older Worker
26th Jan 10 21:41

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1
Older Worker

Older Worker

We are given every August a set of "objectives" to fullfill. Those "objectives" bear no relation to the work we do. They bear no relation to the income we generate for ourselves or the firm. They are "irrelevant". They are incomprehensible. But my boss demands I measure my self against these. They are meaningless garble. I say the whole exercise is waste of time, time we can ill-afford to waste.

He is driving me mad.
Older Worker
26th Jan 10 21:33

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5
Mr Hicks

Mr Hicks

Older worker, constuctive dismissal is a term used when an employee walks out of a job of his or her own accord due to perceived wrongs perpetrated by the employer. You can take your employer to a tribunal but it is quite hard to prove guilt. Your manager suggesting you find alternative employment would not really count as you have expressed dissatisfaction in your firm. If you feel you are not being treated fairly in your workplace keep a diary of events. Please feel free to ask me for any further advise.
Mr Hicks
26th Jan 10 20:37

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4
Older worker

Older worker

I am a principal. I am a professional. This man is treating me like an automaton. This guy is treating me the same as any new graduate employee. My company will not offer a package. They would want rid of me for nought. I would need over £200,000 severance. It's my right.
Older worker
26th Jan 10 20:24

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1
MikeP

MikeP

"I am 62. It this an attempt at constructive dismissal?"

I'd say he was giving you a useful piece of advice. Why not follow it? I was in a similar position years ago, I took it, got a package, and haven't looked back since.
MikeP
26th Jan 10 19:07

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-3
Older Worker

Older Worker

Today I reported to my that I thought that my firm was the most inefficient firm I had ever worked for. That all the procedures that they required us to follow were a complete waste of time, and a waste of our skill and experience.

He had the audacity to suggest I should leave the firm and find alternative work.

I am 62. It this an attempt at constructive dismissal?
Older Worker
26th Jan 10 19:00

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-5
Kit

Kit

Liam

It's a bit invasion of the body snatchers isn't it and might explain all the pod people I keep seeing.
Kit
7th Nov 09 19:23

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-11
Liam

Liam

Kit, that made me laugh out loud, especially the bit about "growing people". Where do these brainstormers come up with this crud? Personally I think they're all politicians in training!
Liam
7th Nov 09 00:40

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-10

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