Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Rah-Rah Meetings Are Often Nothing To Cheer About

Ava Hovis Fryer-Arkansas City High School (Kansas) 1964-Rah Rah Rah!!!The employees have their bagels and hot tea or coffee and they gather around the conference table for the weekly or monthly update meeting. After a few opening remarks the manager or supervisor says, “OK then! Let’s go around the table and share what we’re doing right now! Ava, you and your team are sure working hard on your new project, so why don’t you share some of that with the rest of us?”

Two hours later a bored and irritated group trudge out of the meeting, glad it’s over for another week or month.

That negative image is not meant to suggest that you should never have people share information about their work. There can be value in such meetings on occasion. However, think carefully before you make them a regular occurrence or end every staff meeting with a sharing session.  

The Pros and the Cons

1. Everyone gets a chance to talk about their accomplishments and the work they and their teams are doing.
Another view: Self-reporting is often inaccurate, especially if there is a feeling that the more work you report, the better you’ll sound.  Many people over-dramatize or fluff to sound impressive, get sympathy or justify not helping others. This is especially a problem when others know the person reporting only has a lot of things to do because he or she procrastinates or wastes time. Consider setting a time limit of one minute per person and not one second more. People only need to hear an overview list of what others are doing, if that. Managers should not need these reports to make him or her aware of the work being done.

2. Everyone can appreciate the myriad tasks involved in the big picture of work and how much every individual contributes.
Another view: Once you know that, you don’t need to be told the next month and the next and the next. Consider limiting sharing meetings to every six months or so.  

3. Team members may find areas of common focus or concern and perhaps can assist each other.
Another view: The role of a supervisor or manager is to be aware of what work is being done and to bring employees together in ways that will assist them. Consider teaching employees the value of checking with each other to see if someone else has expertise, experience or information. 

4. Managers and supervisors can see how employees interact with each other and how supportive individuals are of the team.
Another view: Rarely do managers do or say anything about how individuals act in meetings, either to commend or correct. They should, but they don’t. I don’t know of many (or any) managers or supervisors who have ever included meeting behavior in performance evaluations. Again, they should, but they don’t. Consider evaluating interactions that take place in other group formats.

5. The manager or supervisor can use the meeting to build the team and identify issues that need to be handled.
Another view: The reports are usually about what one person is doing or what that person’s group is doing, not about the overall work of the group or the organization, so they are not team-oriented. Rarely does the manager or supervisor do a closing that pulls all of the information together for the group, ending the meeting with a team focus. In addition, most issues that are disclosed in meetings are already known. Some meetings are called specifically to get known issues “out in the open.” Problems should be intervened about while they are happening or soon after, rather than waiting to have the problems vented in a meeting. 

6. The manager has an opportunity to commend in public.
Another view:  Some of the weakest, most embarrassing expressions of appreciation I have ever heard have been in meetings when a manager felt compelled to say something positive. Consider a private, sincere thank you. Show your appreciation in public by the supportive, friendly way you treat people and the occasional comment that others hear.

The bottom line: Meetings to share information about work have value when there are clear connections between what each person is doing an an overall task to be accomplished. There is even more value when the leader or a faciliatator briefly makes that connection for the group as each person talks. What I have found to be unhelpful and even damaging are meetings where many people talk at length about their current work and their To Do lists.  Those who like to preen about their work and lists of tasks seem to love those meetings.  Most employees dislike them and resent being required to participate.

Personal, direct and specific conversations will do more to build individuals and the team than forced sharing, with or without bagels and hot tea or coffee.


May 4th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Supervision and Management | 9 comments


  1. THANK YOU. We are in a section where number of items don’t mean anything, but one or two people hand out lists of their work and obviously make comparisons. Our director takes it at face value, even though she should know better. It’s three and a half hours out of every Thursday, to accomplish nothing. So, I’ll say it again, THANK YOU.

    Comment by Worker Bee | May 5, 2010

  2. I don’t mind sharing a few quick things, but some people tell us about the same projects every week as though we are really interested in every gory detail of how much work they have. If supervisors need to hear the information….and I think they should…then why don’t they have meetings with us as individuals or project teams?

    Comment by Mike | May 5, 2010

  3. Hmmmmmm. I’ll have to think about this one. I can see your viewpoint but I believe these meetings can serve a purpose. I’m probably biased because I do end every meeting with a sharing session and it seems to be appreciated by *many* people. Most people enjoy bragging a little bit or letting people know how hard they’re working, but that’s not necessarily bad. Obviously they have some need to do it or a feeling that they aren’t appreciated. It would have a lot to do with how it’s handled. This is good for making me think. 🙂

    Comment by Lana H. | May 5, 2010

  4. 🙂

    I sure enjoy your writing, Tina.


    Comment by John | May 5, 2010

  5. You probably know how I feel about this topic, so I won’t waste your time telling you that I agree with you. I just wanted to say the photo brought back memories of yearbooks and cheerleaders and LeeAnn Braumburger. I’ve daydreamed all day.

    Comment by wiseacre | May 5, 2010

  6. Enjoyed this very much!

    Comment by Steve | May 6, 2010

  7. You were awesome in the training this week! I sincerely hope you will do some more for us, especially about dealing with problems. Thanks!

    Comment by Dispatch Diva | May 8, 2010

  8. I’ve had a long career (40 plus years), so I’ll add my two cents. Every time I have been put in charge of an office in my company (a dozen or so in as many states) some people come to me right away asking to have meetings so they can share information. They usually say the last manager didn’t have enough meetings.

    Invariably those are people who want to talk about themselves. Even if they want to talk about their groups it’s a reflection of themselves. They aren’t really interested in other people except to compare how much better they are doing than the other people are.

    I have found that people who like meetings and solict them are usually less productive and effective overall, even though they talk like they are working harder than everyone else. That sounds dogmatic but it’s based on a lot of experience. I like to know who those people are because they are usually the biggest sources of problems.

    My practice, which is the practice of my company, is that we meet when we need to plan something complex or when we need to solve a problem. Period. If we want to build friendships or talk shop we go to coffee or lunch together or talk in the hallway or at a desk or the work site. My job is to commend and encourage employees and most employees would rather hear it from me than from each other. I don’t hold back on praise, so meetings aren’t required for an effective employee to feel needed.

    I agree 100% with the bottom line you used as a summary.

    Comment by KCJ | June 7, 2010

  9. It may be too late for me to comment about this, but I wanted to say how much I agree with you. At first the idea of having people go around the circle sounds pretty good. Then, when you start doing it you realize how awful it is most of the time! All but one or two hate that in our meetings and those one or two love to talk about how hard they’re working. Our last manager had the rule that each person could only take one minute. But, really important things take longer than that and the trivial things don’t need that much time.

    I think people should request time on the agenda and the boss should only allow it if everyone needs to know the information and it isn’t just self-serving B.S. No going around the table, ever!

    Thanks for a great post!

    Comment by Sam M. | July 10, 2010

Leave a comment