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Employee Meetings: Bitch Session Or Team Building?

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Earlier this year I was working with one of my clients and had the opportunity during one of my visits to attend a quarterly all employee meeting put on by management. So, I just sat in the back of the room quietly and observed.

The manager of the business gave me a copy of the handout for the meeting topics. It wasn’t much, but some bullet points and a few words:

  1. Communicating with dispatch
  2. Parts usage
  3. Correct work time
  4. Posting hours on the job
  5. Coming in late
  6. and several others …

After welcoming everyone, the manager proceeded to bitch about a list of events that happened over the past few months. In unbelievable great detail he spent almost 20 minutes going over one error that someone made on an invoice. He also said something about two guys who know they are not marking their hours correctly. The entire meeting was a negative rant about mistakes found over the last two months.

The crazy part was that these were just common mistakes made by individuals that should probably have been handled on the day of the mistake rather than holding it for ammunition at the next meeting.

I could tell by the look of the employees that this was a typical meeting and they were not even actively listening to their boss. In fact I could tell that some of them actually seemed embarrassed for him.

At the end of the meeting, the manager came to me and said “You know I stay on these guys all the time and they still screw things up.”

Of course I took him into his office later and said the following:

“Let’s imagine you were coaching a ball team and one of the players was messing something up or doing something wrong. Would you tell that person to handle it correctly right there during the game or wait two months and yell at the whole team about it, along with the mistakes everyone else made over the last two months?” Which makes more sense?

I think he got the picture.

For some reason, quite a few managers are reluctant to deal with the issues at hand directly with the culprit; instead they make everyone suffer for the mistakes of one. An employee meeting should be a positive event focused on how to improve rather than a tally of everyone’s screw-ups.

Quit being a wuss and deal with issues head-on as they happen, building an ammunition depot for later use adds no value to anything or anyone.

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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