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