Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Meet the All Star Cast

These days, meetings are inevitable. Despite the technological advancement looming in this You Tube generation, still nothing beats a fact-to-face interaction. More so with the multiplication of available information, the need to meet is crucial.

Basing from my personal experience, I attend meetings on an average of two times in a week. I have attended enough meetings for me to witness different personalities. Taking a closer look and viewing the dynamics of meetings from a different lens, I have come to realize that meetings are actually star-studded, sans the glitz and glamour.



Meet our all star cast …

The Departed: the “late” Mr. So and So

Always late on meetings. His tardiness can be caused by either

- inherent tardy habits

- forgetfulness (forgets there is a meeting)

- occupations with other tasks (that the meeting called for is not one of his priorities)

- caused by setting back-to-back-to-back meetings, of which the first meeting got delayed.

The Invisible: Ms. Abs Cynth

The one who is not present in the meeting. Either she is:

- sick

- on Vacation Leave

- attending to something more “urgent”

- attending another meeting

If she’s a main stakeholder or a key decision maker in the topic concerned, and she’s not present, this leads the group to call for another meeting.

The Snooze: Mr. Sandman

The one who drifts away and takes on a mental vacation (worst form is sleeping) on meetings, specially on a whole-day-big-audience meeting. Sometimes, it’s not his fault. His part in the meeting is only 10% and half of the topic in the agenda is not relevant to him. But still, he is forced to be there.

The Shadow: Ms. Terious

The lurker. Present in the meeting but is silent the entire time and makes no contribution to the meeting. Usually she is occupied with her laptop and/or cellphone. More often than not, she is called in the meeting on “stand by”, in case something operationally specific is asked in the meeting. In most cases she knows the answer but hesitates to speak up to the large group. It is much better for you to ask her, than to wait for her to talk.

The Lost: Mr. Duh

Does not know why is invited in the meeting, and worst, what the meeting is all about. Sometimes combines forces with the Shadow and the Snooze.

The Unprepared: Ms. Leigh Ter

Goes to the meeting unprepared. Her favorite line is “I’ll get back to you later.” She is not ready with her date for several reasons:

- new in the position

- functionally incompetent

- data in the system (like SAP) is not yet ready for generation

- thinks other stakeholder is responsible for the report

- the meeting was unplanned, thus no time to prepare

- not aware that it will be needed for the meeting (due to unclear agenda or no agenda at all)

The Talker: Ms. Chat

Loves to talk in meetings. Has the tendency to talk in circles and give extemporaneous speeches. Thinks that talking is same as contributing. Presentations are mostly 50 slides or more. Has the tendency to spend more of her allocated time slot. Or worst, eats other’s time slot.

The Astronaut: Mr. Galaxy

The one who goes off track . Brings in or reminds issues and comments outside from the main meeting agenda. Thus, discussions deviate from the meeting’s main objective.

The Showbiz: Ms. Holly Wood

Attends the meeting or calls a meeting “for show”. Want to let everyone know that she is in charge or she is doing something. She uses meetings as a sign that she is busy. She could also use it as an excuse not to do other admin tasks, or potentially to skip another meeting. In higher levels, participants feel she is bored and has nothing to do, that calling for a meeting makes her feel important. Another variation could also use meeting as her venue to plan, strategize and do her own functional work – at the expense of the time of her staff.

The Assassin: Mr. My Way

The opinion leader who is a sharpshooter and shoots down other ideas contrary to his. Aggressive and talks openly of his opinions. Sometimes plays the devil’s advocate. Participants find value in his thoughts. Brings to light some factes in the issues. But if taken to the extreme, he can be dangerous. Has the tendency to argue to win the argument, and not necessarily find a solution.

The Gravedigger: Mr. Histor Yan

Comes to the meeting with excess baggage of the past. His favorite lines are “Well, in the past we did it this way…” or “When we tried that before…” He is the librarian of the past and keeps an archive to remind everyone about it. Can be helpful in avoiding past mistakes, but usually kills fresh, new and original ideas.

The Forgetfull: Ms. Ame Sia

Is notorious for conveniently forgetting what was agreed from the last meeting. If she’s the boss, she takes on different directions every meeting. Thus, subjects the team to plan and re-plan their work, present and re-present their proposal. If she’s a staff member (Co-Stakeholder), she fails to implement some key action points. Thus, issue remains unresolved. Prescription for Ms. Amne Sia is a tablet of meeting minutes after every meeting.

The Yes Man: Mr. K.Ass

Always says “yes” to everything. Perceived to be the most cooperative in the group. But actually deeper than that, he is just afraid to rock the boat, specially if the boss is The Assassin. In high ranks, Mr. K.Ass saya “yes” even at the expense of his and his team’s workload. And in lower ranks, Mr. K.Ass says “yes” even when he means “no”.

The Microscope: Ms. Nitty Gritty

Just loves the details. She loves to be on top of everything. Wants to inspect every nook and cranny of things. Calls for a series of meetings for reports on research, evidence, benchmarks, and continuous updates. Sometimes her staff thinks she is very cautious and wants tobe very very safe before she makes a decision. While others think she lacks confidence and trust in her team.

Do they all sound familiar? Funny as it may seem, but when you are in a meeting with them, it isn’t funny at all. It is a good thing though that our story does not end here. The saga of our meetings is not all that bad. Let us not forget our heroes and heroines who take the frontline to ensure our meetings turn into a successful blockbuster hit!

The Contributor: Ms. Baya Nihan

The attentive and cooperative participant. She is every meeting facilitator’s dream come true. Goes to the meeting on time and well prepared. Knows what (and what not) to say and when to say it. Takes down notes and hold accountability for her tasks. Values the meeting well and takes on full responsibility in ensuring that the meeting objectives are successfully met. After the meeting, she acts on her deliverables and brings all her pending issues to a resolution.

The Influencer: Capt. Planet

The key participant who can influence the decision of the group, the team, the stakeholder (and the entire planet). The Influencer may not necessarily be the boss or the meeting facilitator. The can be played by different people in the meeting at different times, depending on the topic. Usually, though not a default, this is accorded to the subject matter expert. Over and above experience, credibility and interaction/communication skills are the anchors to his captainhood.

So who are you in the meetings?