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Long meetings

(81 Posts)
Mosschopz Sun 03-Mar-13 20:58:17

I'm an assistant head in large secondary school. Senior Leadership meetings are Tuesday nights 3-5pm usually, but often go on til 5.30-5.45. If I leave at 5pm I can get to nursery to collect DS (2yo) before closing time but that means missing the end of the meeting so I usually ask DH to leave work early that night and get him. He usually has to make up the flexitime by working later the rest of the week (and often Saturdays) OR swap with others (if possible) so it's not great but it's what we feel we have to do, like other working parents. I don't want others on the team at work to see me as not pulling my weight as they all stay until the bitter end even though at least three of them have kids under the age of 5 (BUT they have wives who do the pick-ups!).

AIBU to tell the head staying after 5pm has to be the exception rather than the rule for us as it's really awkward to do it every week? He seems ok with it so far, he hasn't said anything to me, but does have a good old 'general' moan about the staff being slack every week at that meeting!

Incidentally, I bust a gut for the place and work every evening of the week after putting DS to bed.

Glittertwins Mon 04-Mar-13 14:40:56

I'm a real professional too, I am also professional enough to manage my workload and run efficient meetings to ensure people can leave at their finish time. My managers are also professional in recognising a healthy work/life blance and that if people are constantly working over their hours, then their must be an issue that needs to be corrected. Nobody should be continuously working 50 plus hours per week if that is over and above their contracted hours.

itsallyourownfault Mon 04-Mar-13 14:41:35

And meetings that are run professionally also run over. Think FTSE100 Board meetings with experienced individuals. When important decisions are being made we can't just say, we'll that's enough of that, I've got the kids to pick up.

Glittertwins Mon 04-Mar-13 14:41:53

* balance and there...wretched ipad

Glittertwins Mon 04-Mar-13 14:42:30

This isn't FTSE board, it is a school.

Chrysanthemum5 Mon 04-Mar-13 14:43:33

I had this problem at work. I'd be in meetings that were dragging on, and my boss would say at 5pm " We've not finished, I assume we can all stay". Well I couldn't as I did nursery pick up (DH did drop off). I put up with it a couple of times then I spoke to him, and explained that since I was always the one who had to leave, I was being marked out as 'not committed' and I shouldn't have to do that. Also, that since DH did drop offs i was always at work far earlier than all my Colleagues, but i didnt expect them to start coming in earlier to suit me. Since then it's never been a problem, I think he honestly just didn't see the problem in staying late.

I think I wouldn't have minded so much if the meetings had been efficient, but people just rambled on and that's why they overran.

itsallyourownfault Mon 04-Mar-13 14:45:02

Glitter twins exactly, and that's why the op was moaning. A real professional wouldn't.

Oh and I don't expect special treatment for having children.

I expect respect for my private life - whether it requires I leave on time to collect children, bring an elderly parent to an appointment, catch my holiday flight on time, go to college.

when I don't have time commitments like these I will give extra hours.

In fact, because of the normal respect in my company for people's personal lives, people are probably MORE flexible than in a culture where it is expected.

itsallyourownfault Mon 04-Mar-13 14:47:36

That's a good point onthebottom.

ivykaty44 Mon 04-Mar-13 14:55:46

If the meeting is two hours then it needs to be two hours otherwise the agenda is wrong and needs to be adjusted. If the meeting and agenda are consitantly wrong then that issue needs to be raised at the meeting that they are taking to long.

There is plenty of material to show that longer meetings are not productive and can have the opposite effect. Therefore the meeting are becoming worthless.

Are the meetings held sitting down or standing up? Standing at meetings reduces the amount of time by nearly 30%

CressidaFitass Mon 04-Mar-13 14:56:51

My DH has multi million pound company decision meetings now and again, and he often does them from home on conference calls.

That might be an idea for the future OP?

bigTillyMint Mon 04-Mar-13 15:03:29

As an ex-Deputy Head, I think long meetings are often ineffective. Do you have an agenda (and stick to it?!) which is manageable for a 2 hour meeting?

I do not think YABU to say that you HAVE to leave at 5 unless it is a special meeting when your DH will do pick-up. If your Head and other members of your SLT value you, hen they will think that it is reasonable

Tanith Mon 04-Mar-13 15:14:41

The most productive meeting I ever attended lasted just 15 minutes.
There was a serious problem to be addressed, ideas were discussed, a solution was agreed.

This isn't really about childcare or having to leave the meeting before it's concluded.
It's about a series of meetings so ill-planned and unprofessionally run that they consistently over-run by half an hour or more.

noblegiraffe Mon 04-Mar-13 15:38:58

If being professional means putting up with poorly run, ineffective meetings, then it doesn't actually seem to be something to aspire to.

FierceBadIggi Mon 04-Mar-13 15:40:38

Not wishing to good into a debate with Itsall but I can't let pass the idea that anyone who doesn't fall into his/her uber professional category is a slacker.
The man who fixed my car this morning was not a slacker. The teller in the bank was not a slacker, and the cleaner who cleaned the gym I'm going to tonight - another slacker? hmm

quoteunquote Mon 04-Mar-13 15:50:21

Suggest the meeting start 7am , that way they have to end on time, we do all our main meetings at the start of the day, far more productive.

GirlOutNumbered Mon 04-Mar-13 16:11:21

Yan bi
The meeting is scheduled to finish at 5. If he wants to have a meeting till 5.30 he needs to specify that.

I leave on the scheduled end of a meeting, although obviously if it really can't be concluded I will hang about.

GetOrf Mon 04-Mar-13 16:21:45

Don't offer them chairs.

I work in central government now, and I miss the days of working in manufacturing where stand up meetings were the thing. Far more decisions were made in a 15 minute stand up than in christ knows how many 2 hour tangent meetings I have to attend now. You simply have to be strict and drive people on, but people don't like it <tough>

GetOrf Mon 04-Mar-13 16:24:19

I agree with Tanith - this has nothing to do with childcare really, but rather meetings which are not managed effectively.

In trying to deal with this, say clearly that the meetings ramble on and they need to be agenda'd and also driven. Offer to do this yourself. People hate managing meetings - the HT may well be very happy to let you do this.

FryOneFatManic Mon 04-Mar-13 16:33:11

Some of the most productive and non-slacking individuals I ever worked with were part timers. There's a serious problem if to be considered professional you have to put a lot of time into being present in the office.

It's not productive to spend a lot of time being visible in an office if you're not actually producing work to match the hours (and yes, I have known many people like that, who boasted about the amount of hours they were at the office, when in reality they produced little work).

Likewise meetings. All the best meetings I attended didn't run on and on. Sometimes an item needed more discussion, but rarely, and if anything cropped up that required an in depth discussion, we scheduled an extra meeting for another time.

When I was a school governor, I chaired one of the sub committees and made damn sure we kept to an agenda, and that any information on the subjects was sent out with the agenda in advance, to enable us to discuss and make decisions without it going on and on. I was sec at that meeting too, and sec of another 2 sub committees. Meetings of the full governing body went well too, our chairman was effective and I did what I could if he wasn't available (vice chair).

poorbuthappy Mon 04-Mar-13 16:35:18

Any employer who contracts their employees 9 to 5 and they have to work 50 hours plus a week is not someone who I want to be.

Christ you must be the most unorganised person in the world.
Or, you are a real tight arse who will not pay for enough employees.

atthewelles Mon 04-Mar-13 16:45:34

itsall I find your views deeply depressing. There is nothing admirable about putting your professional life before your personal life. There should be a balance between both. Obviously sometimes people are forced to work longer hours than is healthy for a good work/life balance. But when people start to boast about it and hold it up as something to aspire to, I find it leaves a bad taste.

I have also found that there is often very little correlation between longer hours worked and extra output. Some of the most efficient, professional and talented people I've worked with manage to be out the door at a civilised hour every evening. Some of the most inefficient, unfocussed people have been the ones still stuck in the office at 8pm.

stealthsquiggle Mon 04-Mar-13 16:52:16

itsallyourownfault which century are you in? Getting the job done is not about a macho "being seen to be there" culture, it's about getting the bloody job done.

Very early in my career the organisation I worked for was led by a woman (in a small minority in the industry). She had a small child, and she left at 5pm to pick said child up. Come hell or high water. It didn't mean she wasn't working evenings, weekends, etc, but she left. Everyone knew this and, surprise suprise, meetings finished on schedule at 5pm, with no less productive results. Meetings will expand to fill the time available.

OP - could you offer to take over managing the agenda for the meeting or something? If the meeting starts with an absolute understanding from all concerned that it will finish at 5pm, and has a realistic agenda to do so, then it will probably be more productive for all concerned. It's only because each topic is allowed to drift on a bit too long that you end up with this cumulative effect - if every item on the agenda took (say) 5 minutes less, then you would be done on time - something which I suspect everyone would welcome.

If there is some reason why an objective look at the agenda shows clearly that it is not going to get done in 2 hours, then that needs to be acknowledged up front and planned for.


atthewelles Mon 04-Mar-13 17:00:22

I think some people allow their identity to be so closely related to their job or profession that they develop blinkered vision and all they can see is 'the job, the job, the job'. If anything goes wrong at work their week is ruined; if someone is promoted ahead of them their whole world collapses; at weekends or on holidays they are still thinking about work.
That is not healthy. Everyone needs other interests and other things to focus on. That way, when something goes wrong at work you see it in perspective; if you don't get a promotion you are pissed off for a couple of days and then move on etc.
Seriously, itsalll works in not everything and you will regret it some day if you allow it to take over.

Catmint Mon 04-Mar-13 17:50:39

I see little merit in presenteeism, to be honest.

Each agenda item should be marked up. Is it for discussion, information or decision? It should have a time allotted to it.

Eg leak in hall roof. For information. 10 mins

Underperformance of xx staff. Discussion. 30 mins

And items that have appeared on previous agendas as discussions should be progressed to become decisions.

It is taking the piss to regularly run over and expect the staff in any role, with children or without to just suck it up. It shows a lack of skill, judgement and the ability to prioritise. Meetings are to achieve things, not stress relieving sessions for the chair!!

I definitely think that you should suggest a structured agenda.

Good luck.

Mosschopz Mon 04-Mar-13 21:41:47

Head chairs, always. If he's absent it's the deputy. I think it would be a great idea to move the chair around but it isn't something that'll happen under this guy. It seems to be the norm for slt meetings in lots of schools to run on forever, but it shouldn't be.

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