Sunday, April 25, 2010

How Not to Plan a Meeting

A while back, shortly before lunch, I get an e-mail forwarded to me.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been included in an e-mail that seems to have been bantered back and forth by several people for several days, yet the person forwarding you the e-mail only provides you with the last two parts of the e-mail, which is like coming into a movie half-way and then being quizzed on the first half.

The e-mail simply said: “We need to meet”.  It was forwarded to me, and 5 other people, only one of whom I actually knew.

There was nothing in that simple incomplete sentence “We need to meet” that told me why we needed to meet, or when we needed to meet, or where we needed to meet.  There was nothing in the two other parts of the forwarded e-mail that suggested any of these things, except that one of the people that hadn’t been on the forwarding list couldn’t make this meeting (whenever, wherever, for whatever reason).

I respond by simply saying “Why are we meeting, when are we meeting, and where are we meeting?”

Three simple questions that should have been included in the original forwarded e-mail.  Frankly I think its incredibly rude for someone to just demand that “we” meet without including specifics.

The response came back: Is there a room available to meet?

While I’m sure this question wasn’t directed at me since I had admitted complete ignorance regarding this meeting, the fact that no additional information had been provided was causing my brain to bubble somewhat. 

Someone responded back that there were no rooms available at his office, but perhaps there was one available at the office where I worked. 

Um, excuse me, I’m pretty sure that I asked for some clarification on this whole meeting thing, so I couldn’t very well even venture to guess as to the availability of a room.  Realizing the whole futility of this exercise of stupidity, I went to lunch.  Upon my return someone responded that a room was available over lunch the next day.  Oh, great, so I have a day and a time at least... except I’m not giving up my lunch hour to sit in a meeting that I really had no idea the subject of said meeting.

I responded promptly with the contractor’s all purpose excuse:  “Unless I am told the purpose of this meeting, I will be unable to attend as I do not know if it falls within the scope of my contract”.    This is actually a very valid reason not to venture into just any ol’ meeting, as my contract specifically states what I can and can’t do, and wandering into a meeting that has nothing to do with what I’m suppose to be working on is grounds for death in the contractor world.  Ok, not death, but losing your contract and perhaps your firm losing the entire contract due to impropriety is pretty much the same as death.

Amazingly enough, there were no further responses, explanations or additional e-mails regarding this meeting for the rest of the day.  I fully expected to in the next morning and find more chatter about the meeting, and how it was now scheduled at the most inconvenient time, place, and venue and that I would be required to attend. 

If that’s the case, I’m calling in with a flesh eating bacteria issue.


Huffle Mawson said...

When I get emails like that, I totally ignore them. If they want me, they can come and ask me.

Kristen said...

Things never change. :0)