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Bored meetings and such

Over the years I have been subjected to many different types of management styles, and way too many meetings. I have been on both ends of this equation. For those of you in charge, here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your next motivational meeting.The 80/20 rule, which applies to many things in life (like it says in your introductory remarks, most likely), also applies to your audience. Eighty percent of those smiling faces are painted on. Phrases like “110 percent effort, I have a challenge (impossible task) for you,” and “success comes in cans, not can’ts” do not inspire, they infuriate. Meetings with a lot of noise and hoopla can be likened to those chimps on the nature channel. One starts jumping around and beating on things with a stick and soon they are all doing it. Why, it’s working! The problem is that the ice water of reality soon cools trumped up enthusiasm. This type of group arousal is only really effective if you are a lynch mob and plan to act immediately.“Plan your work and work your plan” sounds good, but as General Patton once said, “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” This does not mean that you should not have any plan, just that you should not waste your time making it too detailed. Just before the Battle of Waterloo began, Lord Wellington, commander of the British and Allied forces, was asked by his second in command, Lord Uxbridge, in the event anything should happen to him, what was his plan? Wellington’s reply, “to beat the French.”Praise is supposed to be the best motivator, so why don’t we hear more of it? Because management is afraid that if they tell you that you are doing a good job, you will ask for a raise. The reason management harbors these fears is because they are true. Invariably, if you compliment your work force you get at least one belligerent demand for more money, and productivity begins to slack off as people begin to feel secure. At the employee’s end, a request for more money can trigger the classic management defense, a bad performance review. Both parties often find that sadly, silence is safest.If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question. A dead giveaway that this is the case is when the question includes the desired answer. “You will be able to achieve this goal, won’t you?” The listener is already mentally sending out resumes.And let’s be fair. If you are going to insist on things being done your way, if they don’t work out, the problem is the planner.Meeting adjourned! Bill Abrams chairs meetings from, and sits in his chair in, Pine Plains.

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