Staff Meetings

Like most everywhere else, Berrett-Koehler has a monthly staff meeting. You’ll know what day the meeting falls on by how the price of coffee beans takes a sharp hike on the NASDAQ following frenzied market demand by BK staff. These are marathon days for my position, too. Amongst the staff, these meetings are as informative and useful as they are dreaded.

Because I favor the dreaded side of things, here are five really annoying things that happen in BK staff meetings:

1. Every Minute Becomes Five (or Twenty): Our staff meetings are scheduled, on average, to be three hours long. I know that this doesn’t seem that laborious, but unfortunately it doesn’t account for the fact that despite years of experience, almost everyone underestimates the amount of time needed to discuss a topic to death. I cringe and hope, but inevitably someone will say “Oh, well, I’d like a bit more time to discuss this issue – perhaps the whole dang afternoon will do?” (Okay, they don’t ask for the whole afternoon — usually only ten or twenty minutes — but that’s how it feels to me.)

2. Yada Yada Yada: At these meetings, I am the scribe (which is a fancy word for “minutes-monkey”) and I am required to record everything everyone says as part of the minutes. This means not only the important decisions, but also the pontificating, lecturing, meandering, really unfunny joking, and out-loud self-obsessed ruminations that are part of this whole circus. You know what the one thing worse than a bad joke is? Having to transcribe that bad joke word for word, thereby reliving the horror yet again in my mind.

3. Space Cadets: I am always exhausted after a staff meeting, not because of the amount of time we’re locked in there, but because I have to be constantly alert and activity listening because of (#2) above. So you can imagine the burning injustice I feel when I look up and see people staring at the wall, employing the hand-to-forehead-in-deep-thought tactic to take a nap, or tweeting about how boring the meeting is. Oh, and by the way, holding your iPhone under the table to play Angry Birds isn’t exactly covert. I’m watching you, and I hate you all.

4. Democracy Is the Biggest Pain-in-the-Butt: We are BK, so when it comes to decision making everyone’s opinion counts and we vote. On EVERYTHING. You see, I’m fine with the fact that we vote on things like pay raises and company health plans, but do we really need to vote about which restaurants to use to order lunch? Note to management: At about 75% of voting scenarios, someone inevitably asks if there’s an “I really don’t care” option. This is a hint.

5. Feeding Time: About half way through the meeting, it begins. I hear the first crinkle of a chip bag, the first protest of plastic wrap being stripped off a sandwich, and I realize it’s lunchtime. And like some twisted Pavlovian  response, I begin to feel rage. Because I have to continue taking the minutes, I can’t eat (and if you refer to point #2 above, you’ll know that there’s no rest from taking minutes because someone is always talking). And our staff are not the most graceful eaters either, which just amplifies the hunger-in-the-face-of-gluttony factor. I secretly wish someone would start choking on his or her food. Then the staff could  vote on whether the person is actually choking or not.

As the song says, suicide is painless. Unfortunately, meetings aren’t. Until next time

  1. Is the guy in the illustration Steve? It looks like a cute picture of Steve.

    • kylahfrazier said:

      Yes that is Steve, our fearless leader!

  2. Umm, Kayla, have you ever heard of audio recording? You could just get some random electronic device (iPhod, Android, Sony, Toshiba, etc) that records, save it to a flash drive and be off & running. It’s still legal, and if anyone REALLY wanted to get some detail out of the minutes of some meeting, you could get them transcribed. Much better than ruining your heart, stomach and mind with rage & resentment…

    • kylahfrazier said:

      Thanks for the suggestion Sue, and believe me I’ve tried to bring the point up before. But alas, it’s a no go. Even though it would save my poor little fingers, in the end, it’s actually very useful to have the meeting transcribed. If you need to find a topic from six months ago you can easily hit CRTL+f in a word doc and search a key term. Can’t really do that in an audio recording and we check these records enough to make what I do a necessity.

      And the name’s Kylah (I have to point this out after a lifetime of being called Kayla, Kylie, Kyle etc. To date, the worst pronunciation I’ve gotten is “claw”).

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