Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Take Someone Along

Rotate through the employees you manage or supervise and take them with you when you can.

Take A Guest To Meetings

If you participate in committees, groups, clubs or activities or attend organizational meetings that are appropriate and not confidential, consider inviting an employee or coworker along now and then–there can be many benefits for both of you.

*Employees and coworkers can expand their views of the organization and your role in it.

*It gives you and the employee or coworker an opportunity to communicate about general issues as well as the issues involved in the meeting or committee.

*It allows the employee or coworker to meet people within and outside your organization and to build a network for his or her professional development.

*It allows you the chance to observe the employee or coworker in another setting, and to discover strengths or developmental needs you might not know otherwise. (And they can observe you, too!)

*It lets employees and coworkers see what you do when you’re out of the office. Nearly always they find out you are not spending the time just having fun!

Lookout For Pitfalls

1. Don’t play favorites.  Try to rotate through the list of potentials unless there are events or meetings that would only be appropriate for one or a few people.  You might be surprised at the topics in which an employee would be interested.

2. Use social graces at the meeting. Arrive early so you can introduce your guest. Especially introduce him or her to the chairman of the committee or to key participants. It  makes everyone feel more valued. Provide the employee or coworker with handout copies and make sure he or she can follow the action (or inaction!) or the meeting.

3. Discuss the role of your guest ahead of time. That is especially important if he or she will be lower in rank or organizational status than others. If he or she will sit in an observer area while you must sit at a table, make that clear in a courteous way.  If you want the employee to feel comfortable speaking up during discussions, let him or her know that as well.

If your guest is someone you supervise, do not have them take notes for you, get coffee for you or anything else that seems menial and not part of a professional role. (At a specific group of meetings I used to  attend, the people who were there with the executives were referred to as “horse holders”.  As in, “We’ll have a seat or two for any horse holders you bring.”  I thought it sounded obnoxious and said so. No one else seemed to think anything of it, including the horse holders!  

4. Don’t gripe and complain.  You don’t have to lie or be insincere if you genuinely hate attending or if you have a deep conflict with another participant.  However, if you feel that negative, maybe you should attend and suffer alone. 

5. Be aware that your guest will be keenly aware of everything you say and do.  You’ll be forced to be on your best behavior. (That’s another advantage to having them there!) Be an example of how a productive meeting participant should talk and act.

6. Use the time after the meeting. Take a few minutes afterwards to get a cup of coffee or have lunch, if time is available.  Go somewhere inexpensive and pay for it–or not–but at least use the time to relax and get to know the employee or coworker better. Don’t use it as a time to gossip or for trying to get the employee on your side or impressing him or her with your accomplishments.

7. Follow up. Let the employee or coworker know meeting results or keep them informed about something in which they would be interested. Let them know that you might be available to attend a meeting they are attending sometime.  It would be good for you to expand your thinking as well.

The bottom line: You can only gain positive influence if you show through your actions that you are credible, dependable and valuable to those with whom you work.  You must also communicate effectively–preferably face to face. You can help to gain all of thsoe characteristics by including others when you attend meetings or gatherings, participate on committees, and take part in other activities related to work. 

Look at your calendar for the next few months and find meetings and events to which you can invite an employee or coworker.  While you are deciding who to ask, consider this thought by the writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.

January 24th, 2010 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Supervision and Management | 8 comments


  1. Hi Tina! “Horse holder” has several meanings, even though they all involve holding the lead of a horse. In the old military the horse holder often held the leads of several horses when cannons were fired, or they held the lead while officers mounted or dismounted. My bother is a farrier (horse shoeing) and he uses a horse holder to control the horse during shoeing (usually the owner of the horse.)

    I guess in your meetings the horse holders were the ones who came with the VIPs (probably drove them there and back) and helped them. I’ll bet some of them took notes and got coffee for their bosses too. I’ve never heard the expression used that way, but it makes sense and probably wasn’t meant to be insulting.

    This is my first comment, but I enjoy reading.

    Comment by Old Cowboy | January 26, 2010

  2. I haven’t heard anyone called a Horse Holder since I was with the Feds! I WAS one plenty of times!! I never minded, because I usually got a free lunch out of it, as you suggested!!!

    Comment by B.R. | January 26, 2010

  3. I didn’t mind holding the horse, it was putting up with the backside-of-a-horse I went to the meetings with that bothered me. Just joking, mostly!

    Comment by Horse Holder | January 27, 2010

  4. I’m in a large standing committee and we encourage people to bring staff members as guests. We only refer to them as guests and I can’t imagine calling someone a “horse holder”! You said something in your article that we have noticed. When a committee member brings a guest the member nearly always looks better dressed than usual and always contributes more than usual. That verifies some of your ideas, but I hadn’t really thought about it until I read this.

    I used to think no one would want to go to a meeting with me, until I realized I enjoyed attending meetings with my executive officer just to see what was going on. Now I make a regular habit of it. Some have joined the groups I took them to as a guest, and that’s been good. Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by M. | January 27, 2010

  5. Tina says: Thanks to all for the comments. I sent each of you an email!

    Old Cowboy: Thanks for the horse sense. 🙂
    B.R.–I know, the term wasn’t used in a negative sense most of the time.
    Horse Holder: Very funny, but you have to admit I set that up for you.
    M: Thanks for your insight. You can see how much more intellectual you are than Horse Holder! 🙂

    I love comments and appreciate all of them. It helps me know there’s a reason to write! Tina

    Comment by TLR | January 27, 2010

  6. Hello! A friend sent me the link to your site to see this article. I have found your entire site to be very well done and can feel your sincerity. Congratulations on your outstanding career and the work you are doing now!

    I agree that taking coworkers, peers and employees to meetings of all kinds can be an excellent way to develop relationships. There are many fine service organizations that would welcome new members and their guests. I suggest that your readers consider finding a service club with values they support and convenient meeting times, then start bringing guests immediately. More and more clubs are having shorter meetings to honor the time of attendees. I strongly recommend Kiwanis, an international service club for both men and women. We make service to the community, especially children, our priority. We provide many opportunities to enjoy fellowship, make new friends and serve others. Your readers can find out more about Kiwanis on our website.

    Paul D.


    Comment by P.D. | January 27, 2010

  7. Tina, I started doing this about five years ago and it’s one of the best things I’ve done as a manager. I enjoy the company most of the time, and so far every person, including some people I had my doubts about, have liked it at least enough to not bad mouth it.

    I have a lot of people in my group so I take two or three at a time to one board of directors’ meeting I go to, and sometimes I leave it up to one employee to invite others. I also make it purely optional and don’t take it personally if they don’t want to go. I have about five meetings I can take people to, so that works for the numbers every few months.

    The pitfall about not gossiping is crucial. For some reason when you’re out that way it’s easy to start talking to employees as though they are peers. Once I said something about another employee that created some major problems for me later. My fault.

    Sorry for the long comment! I didn’t get to comment on the article about who gets credit, but I liked it too. The Q.

    Comment by Qwerty | January 29, 2010

  8. Tina says: Paul D., thank you for the information about Kiwanis. That’s a great group! I played the piano for a Kiwanis club in Arkansas City, Kansas when I was in high school and college! I got $5 a meeting and was thrilled to get it!

    Qwerty: Thanks for your real-life reminder about gossiping with those you take to meetings. Keep commenting!

    Comment by TLR | February 3, 2010

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