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Thread: Marginalized & forced to attend useless meetings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Marginalized & forced to attend useless meetings

    At the request of our Acting Planning Director (former/current Assistant Planning Director) I have been tasked with attending a weekly meeting that is supposed to be about CIP. It is a Department Head/Director's meeting. I am the only non-managerial/supervisory person in attendance. (Issue #1)

    The person who runs this meeting is the Commissioner of DPW and basically this meeting is the DPW show. Little is discussed about Capital projects. (Issue #2).

    My concern is this meeting is bascially a waste of time. I am overwhelmed as it is and the two hours a week that I spend at this meeting could be better used. I realize that the Acting Director asked me to attend to help him out but

    A. I feel out of place. I have no power and limited information.
    B. I rarely have anything to contribute to the meeting.
    C. It is apparent that I am not welcome at the meeting. (I never receive agendas or info from the DPW commissioner.) I am an afterthought.


    What would you do in this situation?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. #2
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post

    I am an afterthought.

    What would you do in this situation?
    No one ever said I am the boss' model employee, but at one time in the past I had a fantastic relationship with a boss.

    I noticed he would always give me stuff because I could handle it. Sometimes he gave me too much, it affected my work, he recognized it, and let me drop something. Sometimes I had to make him recognize he gave me too much, but I never complained about it, and he let me drop something. Can't imagine ever having a better boss. Anyway,

    Hopefully you are in this situation. If not, you still have to, IMHO, suck it up. Your work will be affected; I bet your clients are in the same boat too and you should be honest with them about what's going on (keeping in mind it shouldn't get back to management). Hopefully you can push aside something unimportant if push comes to shove, but this economy isn't going to be better for a while and options (& resources) are few.

    I suspect this will be the case for many on this board for many, many months. Hopefully folks on this board don't rely on American media for data for their personal economic analysis and we all realize how bad it is out there, and options are few.

    Hopefully YMMV.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Not all meetings are fun, exciting, or inclusive. That's what comes with the job. Your boss is probably busy with other things (staffs and budgets are leaner) and just wants some eyes and ears in a meeting. DPW has probably run the show like this for years, so don't take it personally.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    And don't you think it is important for planning to be represented at the table? Your dept deserves to be there because perhaps DPW thinks of planning as an afterthought. Change comes slow, is there some report from your dept that others in the meeting would appreciate? Ask to be put on the agenda list, so that when CIP's are discussed you are ready! BUt I feel your misery, meetings can so useless especially when most of the decisions are discussed and decided before or after the meetings!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post
    I noticed he would always give me stuff because I could handle it.
    I think (hope) that this is the case. He gave it to me because he knows I will go and do what I have to. I would ask to be excused from it but I know that he is overwhelmed too. So as the resident martyr, I'll keep attending.

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    DPW has probably run the show like this for years, so don't take it personally.
    The CIP meetings & process is a new pony in this circus. I do take it slightly personally because the DPW commissioner has made it personal (chauvinism) but I also realize it isn't about just me. That's why I didn't tell the guy to eff off.

    Quote Originally posted by Jen View post
    And don't you think it is important for planning to be represented at the table? Your dept deserves to be there because perhaps DPW thinks of planning as an afterthought. Change comes slow, is there some report from your dept that others in the meeting would appreciate?
    I do feel it is important that planning be involved. I'm just not sure I'm the right person. I have no say, no decision-making ability, nor a lot of the information. So while I can report back and provide some input mostly I am just there for appearances sake.


    Bleck.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I think (hope) that this is the case. He gave it to me because he knows I will go and do what I have to. I would ask to be excused from it but I know that he is overwhelmed too. So as the resident martyr, I'll keep attending.

    The CIP meetings & process is a new pony in this circus. I do take it slightly personally because the DPW commissioner has made it personal (chauvinism) but I also realize it isn't about just me. That's why I didn't tell the guy to eff off.

    I do feel it is important that planning be involved. I'm just not sure I'm the right person. I have no say, no decision-making ability, nor a lot of the information. So while I can report back and provide some input mostly I am just there for appearances sake.

    Bleck.
    As the acting planning director...

    How about asking your boss to request the agenda items for you?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I am an afterthought.


    What would you do in this situation?
    I think what the others have said makes sense. Have you asked your boss what he wants you to do at the meeting, what his expectations are? You could tell him that the reason you are asking is that [insert your list of concerns] and you want to be as effective as possible for him.

    Alternatively you could apply for the vacant position I have here on the Oregon Coast.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm....

    Don't (stan) fight the (stan) urge to attend meetings that (stan) take up time and require little (stan) effort (stan).
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I think what the others have said makes sense. Have you asked your boss what he wants you to do at the meeting, what his expectations are? You could tell him that the reason you are asking is that [insert your list of concerns] and you want to be as effective as possible for him.

    Alternatively you could apply for the vacant position I have here on the Oregon Coast.

    I'd be lying if I said I didn't review the job description. (or check out the cost of housing!)
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    I'd be lying if I said I didn't review the job description. (or check out the cost of housing!)
    There are some great bargains to be had right now, with all the foreclosures that have hit the spec builders. I'm considering buying another house just because the prices have come down so much.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Learn what you can and show that you belong. That is how you will prove to others that you can hack it. This is one way to put you in line for a promotion when one comes available. I had an incredible boss once that taught me the sink or swim method of project management/mamagement. If you can swim with the big fish and make a positive improssion, you can really help propel your career. The only thing is that you need to know your sh!t. Sit down and go over old CIPs, talk to your Acting Director about her/his experience, go through old meeting minutes. You also have to start blending in with the others. Do not let them intimidate you, but also do not sit there like a wall flower. Carry yourself with self confidence, know what you are talking about, and show proper respect and you will start to turn heads.
    Satellite City Enabler

  12. #12
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    Worst case scenario

    The worst case scenario is that you are a placeholder for your boss who doesn't want to waste his time in the meeting, but can't ignore them either -- so you're the stand in. If that's the case, suck it up, try to learn something helpful for your boss, and participate when it makes sense. Keep him in the loop...Your boss will appreciate the fact that he's not having to sit in, and if you come up with some helpful information or make a positive impact he'll be impressed. You might also pick up on DPW's perspective/concerns, which could help you out in the future if there are competing departmental objectives or you're working on a conflict area.

    Handling things for your boss that he doesn't like to handle is a pretty good strategy -- when it's meaningful work, or there are unanticipated benefits/information that surface.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I was always told to take the assignments that no one wanted and do them better than anyone else. Granted this is not quite the issue but I would echo other comments to get entrenched and make a contribution. As for the agenda bring it up in a meeting then send him an email and CC you director and the town manager.

    I feel your pain. I am attached to a regional planning group that is master planning 275 square miles of state land owned desert on the outskirts of Phoenix metro area. The town manager passed it to the planning director, who passed it to a planner I, who said he could not handle the extra work load. I asked about the economic development component and all of sudden I was tasked with the steering committee, ed committee and the transportation committee. My furvent objections that I am not a planner and that everything I have learned about the field I picked doing economic development hardly qualified me for such a task but I would do my best.

    I have learned a lot and I am not one to sit back, so I speak up and offer input, get ignored by consultants and get a free lunch out of the monthly meeting.

    My advice is to ask questions, offer input and make your presence known. For what ever reason you are there and since the end result will determine capital outlays for the next 10 years do what you think is right and be confident in what you say. The worst that can happen is the ignore you.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  14. #14
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I say run with it and make it something you own - it may take months/years but if you can get DPW to actively coordinate with you, then you can run the UN!

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