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John Groth

Had over long meetings-start at 8am supposed to be over in an hour. Started running 2-3 hours.
Scheduled meetings with important customers and vendors at 9am. Told boss and left meeting. Soon all that could (about 50%) would leave after an hour. Soon the meetings were completed in less than one hour. In addition company chairman did not like long meetings. Provided him with minutes and when started and ended and who attended. This also had a positive impact.

Graham Shevlin

I saw that kind of behaviour at a software company I worked for in Dallas. The leaders would always show up later, demand that the meeting be replayed for them, then argue about closed agenda items (or worse still, re-open closed agenda items from prior meetings).
The underlying dynamic was that leadership was out of its depth. The business was in trouble, they were under pressure to "do something" and they were trying to be in too many places at once.
The right answer (which de-personalizes the solution) is to have a strong meeting management culture with a rule that the facilitator CANNOT be the most powerful person in the room. That way, participants can be confident that leaders are not "gaming" the meeting management process for their own ends. I saw this at Xerox Corporation when I worked there for a while, including one meeting where a VP who arrived late was told bluntly by the facilitator that no, he would not get a meeting replay. The VP was not happy, but he could not argue with the facilitator. He had no leg to stand on given the cohesiveness of the process.

Gilad Langer

Bob,

I came across your blog kind of by chance after a very frustrating day at the office. I read your posts nearly in tears as it is nearly verbatim my experiences over the last 3 bosses (around 4 years now It seems I can't get away from them?). I am a subscriber and the next click will be to amazon to get your book.

I will reading here daily as this will be my only relief, until.. the economy gets better and I am working on my exit :-)

Thanks, really I mean it thanks
- Gilad

Wagdog

My former boss did the whole arriving late to his own meeting which sometimes lasted 2.5 hours. He'd also leave early and expect us to complete the full meeting as usual. His meetings would be in large groups of unrelated teams, so at any time he's discussing issues with one team that are of little relevance to most of the other teams present. This is justified by his time being too valuable to schedule more meetings with much smaller groups. Also, it gave him the opportunity to embarrass any new recruits in front of a large group of their peers should they make a mistake.

Ellen

Dear Bob,

One thing I think we need to do when we have a bosshole in our sphere of influence is to work towoards training them toward constructive meetings. I know this not possible for every bosshole but it is worth the effort. In the case of Ralph's tardiness to meetings and demand that the meeting restart from the beginning I think the implementation of a two-minute drill would be helpful. This could be brought up a team meeting and addressed to the entire team (including Ralph)as a solution to tardiness and staying on track with progress made before the late-comer arrived. In this case a two-minute drill would recap the agenda and quickly summarize the agenda items covered and their resolution thus far. A closing statement inviting one off follow-up after the meeting and a reminder that meeting notes will follow could help ring in the bosshole's distraction. This is just a thought. I believe in being direct and addressing the problem head on. I personally would have a conversation regarding the problem with tardiness with my bosshole.
Thanks,
Ellen

Jenn Weible

Alright, I'll admit it. I have on occassion been the boss that comes to meetings and lectures for a full hour while my team looks at me completely glassy eyed.

I have found the best way to engage my team is to make everyone responsible for a certain topic or to have them lead the discussion on a certain idea each week. W have also added a "time buster" to make sure we stay on topic and keep our weekly meetings to an hour.

The hardest part of my job is to bring fresh ideas to sales goals that seldom change. The best meetings we have are the ones where everyone shares their ideas (good and bad) and participates. The groupthink mentality is non-productive for everyone.

Sarah Wheeler

I'm afraid I am one of many who has had such an experience. At a former job, our weekly meetings were initially run by our team lead. These meetings were casual and social, but still gave us the opportunity to discuss current and upcoming issues as a team. Then our manager, who was rarely in the office and never came to our meetings, decided that we were not focusing enough on our productivity data and were falling behind. This manager then announced that she would be taking over our meetings and showing us our metrics for the previous week.
The new meeting format did make us aware of our productivity, which then steadily got better, but at a cost. We no longer had any opportunity to keep on top of other issues and were unprepared for changes. There was no longer time for individual input or questions, which made me personally feel like I was expected to conform without question, like a robot.
I suppose the moral of the story is that managers need to first be present and aware of how their team functions if they want to be an active leader.

William Wheeler

For me, the lectures are accompanied with a guilt trip or two during the meeting. Usually when our metrics and performance stats would go down a bit, our boss would sit us down and repeatedly tell us what we did wrong. He would say that we are all adults and should be able to handle it, but we never came out of those types of meetings with out heads held high. He wouldn't act to us in an overbearing way, but sometimes I wondered if there was some power-hungry devil inside of him going: "Look at all the little employees squirm in their seats!". A suggestions would be perhaps isolating the individual problems, having the employees analyze the results, and finally come up with ways to fix or improve them. Indeed, guilt-tripping is not a productive way to hold a team meeting...

Greg Ryan

I have sat in many meetings where the boss did not allow for input other than his own. The only time i was actually able to get input was to start by asking a question and then lead in to a suggestion.

Jenn Weible

Alright, I'll admit it. I have on occasion been the boss that comes to meetings and lectures for a full hour while my team looks at me completely glassy eyed.

I do find that the best way for me to engage my team is to make everyone responsible for a certain topic or to have them lead the discussion on a certain idea each week. We also have added a "time buster" to make sure we stay on topic and keep our weekly meeting to an hour.

The hardest part of my job is to bring fresh ideas to sales goals that seldom change. The best meetings I have are the ones where everyone shares their ideas (good and bad) and participates. The whole "groupthink" mentality is non-productive for everyone.

Soulvy

To combat some of this behaviour a couple of us published "meeting notes" in the company blog, headed by a summary of the time the meeting started, the time of each arrival, the length of time spent on actual business and secondary summary of the average dollar cost of the meeting based on an average for the attendee's pay scales.

This stopped our manager's weekly reading of the ENTIRE MENU from each place he lunched with the CEO or CIO (I kid you not) and recitation of tee times and scores.

Randy Bosch

Sadly, as a result of the bad examples, stasis sets into an organization and into its contributors. Then, as Joseph Wood Krutch so eloquently wrote, "The rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at but the moment we are capable of seeing." ...and the blind lead and follow the blind.

Mackenzie Heys

I have seen this behavior, yet I have also seen the exact opposite, positive behavior. The most effective leader I have ever had the pleasure of working with was consistent, honest, transparent, respectful, and held himself to the same standards he held his employees to. He was truly a servant leader, and I guarantee he got more out of his people than leaders like the one listed about.

HAD

For the arriving late issues, we started without the boss, but when the upon flourishy arrival, a takeover was obvious and long. Some of us did other work, some drew, some answered email. Rude? Perhaps but listening to a monologue with very little input is more than rude, it is bosshole behavior. And, I know the boss doesn't realize it (and doesn't care to).

Mary Jo Asmus

My question is did anyone on the team address this boss' bad behavior? If not, why not? We're all culpable in a way for lousy managers if we don't do something about it.

Mike Sporer

Out of control ego? Happens all too much, Bob.

tcoughlin

Ah yes, the arrive-late-full-meeting-stop-bring-me-up-to-speed trick. The passive-aggressive, disrespectful, self-important trifecta.

Common remedy is to just sit around until Mr. Trifecta shows up, then commence, however, this is typically counterplayed by the what-have-you-guys-been-doing-this-whole-time-do-I-have-to-lead-everything putdown.

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