Posted tagged ‘meeting’

Reviewing our work

November 2, 2011

Talking shop or brain wave?

I was recently invited to a meeting reviewing a large piece of work that had been seen by the council as a priority. The project board for this project was, at a time, huge. The meeting room we used had 15 chairs in it and I’m sure they had, more or less, always been full in previous meetings.

However, this time there were six people in the room and one of them was me (a guest/neutral there for just the review). As if to back this up the apologies list at the beginning of the meeting was long and I began to wonder whether the project was taken that seriously at all.

It turns out, happily, that the project was taken very seriously indeed, but with one caveat; it was taken seriously whilst the project was going on.

It’s easy to see why people were keen to engage early on. The members of staff involved were willing to come to a meeting, and indeed contribute to a project whilst the actual ‘work’ was going on. There would be tasks to complete, things to feedback on and an agenda to influence. As the old saying goes; ‘you can’t complain about the outcome if you don’t take part.’

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Local government meeting etiquette and the laptop

October 25, 2011

'Product Placement' with no payment

I have a colleague who brings his laptop to meetings. He claims he is trying to be paperless, and whilst I am happy to stroke my chin and claim that ‘it will never last’ as he lugs his enormous council issued laptop around the place, at least he is trying.

However, the mere fact of him having his laptop in meetings, and the fact that many councils are moving towards having laptops rather than desktops for their staff, raises a number of ‘meeting etiquette’ questions that we need to de-bunk.

Sitting there typing away in a meeting for some reason seems a little rude but is it any worse than sitting there taking notes on a piece of paper? Well, of course not.

But whilst it is fine to take notes on a laptop what if he uses it for other reasons?

In a meeting last week the discussion turned to a Government announcement and as quick as a flash there was a tap tap tapping in the corner and my colleague had the relevant document on his screen and started reading it out. Although impressed, one of my older colleagues did mutter as we left that:

‘I wonder if that’s what he spends the whole meeting doing?’

Now, let’s move past the fact that what he actually did was damn helpful to the progress of the meeting; what if he did spend every meeting surfing the internet, checking his e-mails and generally catching up on other work? Is this a problem?

There are two inter-related issues here:

  1. Is the member of staff paying attention?
  2. Is the member of staff contributing at the appropriate moments?

If those two criteria are met does it matter? And even if they don’t is the laptop the problem?

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