Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Take Employees To Meetings

Almost anyone at a supervisory, managerial or executive level can remember a time when going to a meeting with the boss–or in place of the boss–seemed interesting and exciting. Come on, you know you do! I recall being asked by my captain to attend a community meeting when he was busy. I was thrilled about it, hardly slept the night before, and spiffied up for the occasion! Better yet was the time I attended a meeting held in the office of a division chief. I was a lowly sergeant and could barely believe I was sitting in the same room as someone with that much rank! I remember looking around the room and feeling as though I had arrived!

Do not underestimate the value of including employees–even those who do not seem likely to be excited about the idea–when you attend meetings that are appropriate for bringing a guest. Sometimes there are chairs around the room for those accompanying the people sitting at a conference table. (Not an ideal situation, but many attendees actually prefer those peripheral chairs.) The preferable situation is open seating when the two of you are sitting together.

If you take an employee along, make it a learning experience rather than just idle observation. You might suggest things he or she could be looking and listening for. A word of caution: Do not complain about meetings in general or the specific meeting, mock the people attending or spend all your time going and coming to the meeting being negative. This is your chance to show that you make an effort to be effective in every situation.

(Edit note after publishing this post: I have been asked by several people here and by email, if it’s OK to be truthful about not enjoying going to meetings or not to a specific meeting.  I think it is best to be truthful, but that does not mean you have to be brutally honest. Just say you sometimes get frustrated or that you find some specific aspect of it to be irritating. The important thing to is to let the employee know you will do your best to participate effectively, even though your experiences have encouraged you to feel negative. Consider talking to the employee about how any meeting could be made better. One day he or she will chair a meeting and that could be helpful information. 

A meeting with your manager: Taking an employee to a meeting doesn’t have to involve formal meetings with several attendees. Consider purposely setting up a meeting with your manager about once a month, in which you report events in your work group. Let the manager know you will always bring an employee, which is why you will not report anything confidential during those meetings.

The value of including employees in meetings.You may have attended so many meetings that the aura of mystery about them is long gone. To most employees who do not normally attend them, meetings are interesting, a break from work, and a way to meet people outside the immediate work group. If higher level managers are going to present, it becomes even more intriguing. Build on that to use meetings as a way to achieve several worthwhile things:

  1. When you take someone as a guest to a meeting, they feel a stronger connection to you. If they value the meeting, they will value you more for letting them participate.
  2. Employees are more likely to see the bigger picture of the organization when they hear the efforts of others to accomplish projects and improve processes.
  3. Meetings outside the organization helps employees gain even broader perspectives and also helps them see the connections involved in work.
  4. Attending meetings may be the thing that helps employees see themselves in a higher position, and that enthuses them about preparing for a future with the organization.
  5. If you ensure you rotate the participation it will increase your reputation for being encouraging, supportive and fair for all employees.

Look at your calender and pick a meeting or two you can start with soon. Make sure it is OK to bring a guest, then invite a supervisor or employee. Talk to the employee about the group ahead of time, including what you would like the employee to do during the meeting. Follow-up afterward by getting the employee’s viewpoint of the group and the reason for the meeting. The insights you gain may be very valuable!

If you do not have anything scheduled that seems appropriate, purposely set up a meeting. Let the person with whom you are meeting know what you are doing and what you hope to accomplish. Make it a worthwhile time for the everyone. It may even renew your interest in some of the things you are meeting about!


June 10th, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 8 comments


  1. Don’t you dare encourage my boss to take me to meetings! I’ve had to pull the plug on her computer today!

    Seriously, I think the employee should be asked if he or she wants to go. Some people do like meetings, but some people like me would rather be beaten than go to one.

    Comment by Wiseacre | June 11, 2008

  2. I take employees to meetings and they always enjoy it much more than I do! 🙂 I don’t talk badly about people involved or complain about the purpose of the meeting, but I say I try to avoid getting in groups that will have meetings because I really dislike meetings generally. I don’t think that’s too negative and it’s truthful. Thoughts? P

    Comment by P.A.H. | June 11, 2008

  3. I agree that taking employees to selected meetings can be a good idea. Last year one employee who had been bad-mouthing me told a coworker he never realized the heat I was taking for him and some others when I went to the monthly reporting meeting. He has been much more understanding about several things since then. He has gone to several meetings now, and talks a lot about them afterwards, which is the best conversation we’ve ever had! So, I agree with your thought on this.

    I wondered about how honest I should be when I invite people. I usually say something about them giving me moral support, or I comment on the meeting and talk about how it usually goes over time. I don’t think I”m too negative, just truthful. Should I try to act like I don’t mind going? That seems phony to me. Thanks for taking the time to respond, if you can.

    Comment by D. Turner | June 11, 2008

  4. Don’t put my name in, because I’d get kidded about this and might even get in trouble. I got picked to attend a high level meeting a few years ago. When the meeting was over the Chief asked me to call someone about one of the things we discussed, and he told me to use his phone. At the time I had 15 years on the job, but I still felt nervous about using his phone. I looked down at his desk, hoping to see something top secret and there wasn’t much except a note from a captain asking for time off because he was having some dental work done. A few days later when the work schedule showed that captain was off, I felt like I had the inside scoop.

    Comment by No Name Please! | June 11, 2008

  5. The comments show that most of us dislike meetings but we all still call them for our offices. I have never taken an employee to a meeting because I thought no one would want to go, but after talking to a couple of them today I found out they don’t like to go to the ones we have in our office but they would like to go with me to a meeting someplace else.

    This must be like the grass is greener. Or maybe they just want to get out of the office?

    Comment by W.M. | June 12, 2008

  6. Tina says: Hello to everyone! Thank you for your comments. I love it when I hear from people! I always respond by email, so do not always respond directly in this format. In this case, I added a edit note to the article, to explain my thoughts about being truthful with a coworker about how you feel regarding meetings.

    But isn’t it sad that we feel that way about what should just be a chance for everyone to communicate about something important? Maybe “important” is the key word!

    I also received several emails about this specific post. Next week I’m going to write an article about some options for meetings WE produce, so perhaps they won’t be dreaded so much!

    Thanks again for the comments. If you are reading this and have never sent a comment, consider doing that now and then. You don’t have to use your real name, only initials or a nickname. If you would prefer not to be contacted by email, you can note that as well.

    From a selfish perspective, hearing from people lets me know my typing is not in vain! From a training perspective, it’s good to hear thoughts of others, either supportive or disagreeing. (Just be nice!)

    Best wishes to all of you!

    Comment by Tina | June 12, 2008

  7. Good, thought-provoking post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this as well as the comments by others. Most have focused on the meetings. However, I would like to suggest that just as important as the meeting itself, boring or otherwise, and whether or not someone personally likes to attend meetings or not, is the matter of spending time with the manager, supervisor or boss. This is your point in the third paragraph where you suggest this be a genuine learning experience. In such settings, often the greatest learning is by observing the manager and learning to develop the attitudes and actions required at a higher level of responsibility. Your example about not complaining about the meeting is good. In a healthy organization, complaints should travel up, not down.

    Simply seeing the supervisor as being accessible and being able to observe the supervisor in different setting can be valuable not only for training, but for promoting communication and understanding. Thanks for your always fascinating thoughts.

    Comment by Jeff Adams | June 14, 2008

  8. Hola, Pastor Jeff! Thank YOU for your never-failing support and good wishes. I knew when I first met you in 1964 that you would be a friend for life! T.

    Comment by Tina | June 14, 2008

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