Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Oh? Is this gonna by one of those meetings?
There's one type of internatl meetings in the corporate setting that can be either somewhat comfortable or outright difficult to deal with. I call it the "distribute the crappy menial work meeting" and this usually occurs when some new task arises, or someone has realize that we have to do something we haven't payed much attention to previously. The whole purpose of the meeting is to decide which department ends up with the short straw and has to deal with the crappy work task for all time and eternity, or until enough time has passed, people have forgotten about it and another similar meeting could be held.
Just recently we had such a meeting. Since I'm in charge of markting I was participating, as was the finance manager, the regulatory manager and the logistic manager. The logistic manager was without doubt the one who entered the meeting most prepared and to emphasize his departments business and incapability to deal with the task in question he had also included two of his peons in the meeting, who also looked suitably exhausted.
This time I felt pretty safe, since it would be hard to tag that specific task to marketing, but it's still important to be there and know when to give and when to take. The balance is difficult, if you give too much you might end up with the task, but if you take too little hostilities might ensue. It is also very important to chose one's allies on the spot in meetings like this. A very condenced summary of the discussions went something like this, and as always, feel free to act the conversation out with casual friends, estranged family members or lovers long gone:
Logistic Manager: We have been doing this for some time, but look at the contents, it has changed now so it's more suitable for regulatory to take over this task. (Motions with his hands to his peons who are looking suitable exhausted) We don't have capacity to deal with this now! (Looking at me) We don't know all these numbers and codes, regulatory has all this information!
Mr. Salaryman: (Quickly looking over the material and on the spot decides to ally myself with the logistic manager) Yes, this really looks like it's more of a regulatory task...
Regulatory Manager: (sensing the direction the converstaion is going, answers defensively) But we don't have all this information, we need logistic to fill this in for us...
Logistic Manager: (decides it's time to give a little since it's a minor thing) Yes, we can provide you with that information.
Regulatory Manager: (realizes that he's still stuck with the task and tries to squirm out) But I can't make this judgement, I need marketing to tell me which ones to do.
Mr. Salaryman: (also decides it's time to give a little) Sure, if you list it up we can tell you which ones you need to do. (decides to give a little more, but doesn't really mean it) Ms. X could maybe also help you a little if you need it...
Finance Manager: (managed to stay out of the fire so far, but decides to give a little as well) We can give you a few of the codes you need.
Regulatory Manager: (realizes that the battle is lost, sighs deeply) Ok, I guess we'll take care of this then from now on...
As we close the meeting and file out of the room the rest of us managers mentally share a few high-fives at that we avoided the monkeywork. But next time I just might not be so lucky... Just another day in the corporate environment!