I hop out of my seat, walk to the trash can where I generously and loudly stretch. Some giggles from my co conspirators, and we start again. The monthly staff meeting, a rah rah fest that was more fizz than sizzle, was a chore to the managers. If possible, we sent one of our employees in our place. The lucky employee would leave, excited that they were chosen to represent the branch, only to return the next day dejected and utterly bored.
Cell phone Duck Duck Goose was a way that some of the managers would fight “the man.” Already understaffed branches would suffer more so we could listen to two hours of what goal we weren’t achieving. Monthly meetings turned into weekly meetings, which turned into twice daily meetings.
Some of upper management knew our feelings. They too had sat in our seats at one time, not playing cell phone duck duck goose, but passing notes and feigning interest as they balanced their checkbooks. However, it seemed that once the opening to Upper Management was cleared, they forgot how unproductive, repetitive, and boring the meetings could be. With each step away from day to day operations, the branches would be subjected to regurgitated ideas and the buzz word of the week.
Corporate decision making always seems to be a one size fits all policy. What works in downtown Philly is not going to fly in a small suburban branch. The branch with customers who are also your neighbors will perform differently than a branch on a college campus.
Even with proof from the front line, corporate still decides that this square peg WILL fit in the round hole and it’s up to YOU to make it fit.
I work in the private sector now. When I attend a partner meeting, I see some shades of Rock, Paper, Scissors as the person leading the meeting falls victim to the person who has learned to shout the loudest to make his point heard. I zone out, making some notes, and wondering just how many people would like to join me in a game of Duck, Duck, Goose.
This post was inspired by Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey. In Boston, five men were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel below the ocean to do a nearly impossible job that would help clean the once dirtiest harbor in America. Join From Left to Write on February 19th as we discuss Trapped Under the Sea. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.