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