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I was told off for taking Verbatim meeting Minutes.

(36 Posts)
Oblomov Thu 16-May-13 16:53:13

I have done accounts for 20 years. My new job, for a small business, I was also asked to do HR, which I had never done before. They have an HR consultant, that I run all my letters, questions past, she okays all my work, before I present it to Director. I do offer letters, contracts. I have been asked to sit in on meetings.

Then I was asked to do minutes. Of a particualrly difficult meeting.

I am not a trained secretary and do not do shorthand.
I know that minutes are supposed to be about the salient points, and agreed actions. However, they are also supposed to be an actual and factual record of what has actually been said.

My last job, I had to go to meetings as an employee. These were recorded. I was given minutes - a dictation of it, word-for-word, verbatim, record.

The lady who previously took minutes for my present company, dressed them up, all flowery, and people have said they bore no resemblance to the meeting they actually attended.

So I wrote the minutes. as verbatim as i could.
And I included poitns , verbatim, where I thougt it was important to record what someone had actually said. The language that they, and only they would use.

For example, the woman said she "had really been struggling". Thats she appreciated that she nneed to "up the anti". It required "banging on a few more doors".
So, I included those exact words, to personalise it.

Now this is speak that someone actually uses. Rather than a professional letter writing style, of say a dismissal letter where you use professional wording and recognised phrases :

"given the circumstances, a decision was reached that ......"

When I presented my minutes. They were literally scoffed at. I was told they were too literal and needed to be totally re-written.

If they wanted Jack-anory, then maybe they should have not asked me to do it, but written their own fluffy version , after wards, of what they wanted to pretend had hapened.

Jokes were made about my BA and MA , how did I get those, with no 'presenting' skills, and I felt a right twit and totally humiliated.

What do you think?

YoureBeingASillyBilly Fri 23-May-14 00:15:45

This is an old thread.

KnackeredCow Fri 23-May-14 00:10:15

OK, disclaimer here I haven't read the whole thread but...

I am currently taking my ex-employer to ET.

I knew the minutes of my appeal meeting would be "massaged" and so I recorded it on my iPhone. This was for my personal use as there wasn't a single member of staff brave enough to be my companion (and I wasn't a union member).

Subsequently, three members of my team have resigned. Two of whom are giving evidence for me, and the third is likely to. My solicitor is shocked I have so many witnesses.

It appears that my recording, because it was for personal use, will be admissable. An ET is not a criminal court so it is at discretion of the Judge.

This is becoming more common and so it is imperative that your minutes are as accurate as possible, regardless of any pressure on you to "massage" them.

DippyEggNSolders Thu 22-May-14 21:47:55

How to take this forward?

The general consensus here is you're right and they're wrong.

Have you got a good relationship with the HR consultant? If so, I suggest you call her and discuss the situation you've been put in. IMO, if she's good at her job she will back you all the way. You can explain to her that the Directors should receive that feedback but you feel as thought they've shot you down about it all, and could she give them honest feedback about the minutes.

Just trying to think of ways you can approach this as I don't think you deserve to be humiliated in the workplace for doing something, which in my, and other [HR] people's experience was right.

I've gone as close to verbatim as I can in disciplinaries, grievances and appeals, even writing down emotions too (ie joe blogs bangs desk, Jane does cries, adjournment offered but refused).

Unexpected Wed 21-May-14 00:29:54

Funkyboldribena the purpose of Minutes from a disciplinary meeting is to present the facts, not to show the company in the best possible light! If a company has behaved incorrectly, this has to be recorded, rather than what should have happened or how the company would like to pretend it happened!

FunkyBoldRibena Tue 20-May-14 22:30:52

Yes, I agree that disciplinary meeting minutes should be verbatim. As in what each person said. Then they should be refined and edited upon typing to show the company in the best light, as it's the company you work for. If the verbatim minutes do not show the company in the best light, then it is no wonder that the boss was upset.

EBearhug Tue 20-May-14 22:20:51

My degrees have meant I can take pretty much verbatim notes from meetings, and in some meetings I do - it can be very useful, especially in difficult meetings. However, when I've been writing minutes, I may well condense it down to something like, "After some discussion, it was decided that..." Sometimes I might cover the main points, so there's a record that particular options were considered before the decision was reached.

However, it would have been far more professional to say something like, "You've clearly put a lot of work into this, but actually, we don't need that much detail in the minutes. Here's a couple of examples of old ones, so can you take a look at those, and do it more in that style next time?" Laughing at your qualifications is unnecessarily personal and rude. They absolutely shouldn't have humiliated you, and even if you didn't produce what was wanted, that's not how it should have been dealt with. I would raise this with my manager, if I were you, but then I can be quite bolshy these days.

(HR meetings at ours quite often get recorded, but that can only happen if everyone involved agrees to being recorded.)

srsanford Tue 20-May-14 20:27:17

Many NHS tribunals have "minutes" that are edited by the Chairman and totally misrepresnt the actual words spoken. Again, you should record the meeting, and correct the minutes before they "accept them as a true and accurate record"

srsanford Tue 20-May-14 20:01:29

Many "committees" want the minutes to be a total misrepresentation of the meeting!
parish Councils are a case in point!
one council decided that there were to be no more "ransom strips"' but this was not minuted by a secretary and chairman who were against a planning application.
The meeting should be recorded (Marantzt 660) and the file saved on backup computers

Steve Sanford

NorthernLurker Sat 25-May-13 17:44:47

I do the same as Yoni. In HR meetings I would record the exact terms used. In the general meeting minutes I take I go for broader terms and descriptions and only explicitly document who said what when it's key to future actions. At a recent meeting 4 or 5 of my colleagues had a pretty complex and strongly felt discussion but it didn't produce any different actions and wasn't going to be something that you'd ever need to say who and said what. So I just summed it up as the meeting had a vigourous discussion surrounding x,y and z. grin

YoniConnect Sat 25-May-13 17:37:30

In my role I take minutes of various types of meetings. For general committee meetings, I formalise them and paraphrase, and I also move the order around to make them more logical. These minutes are a reminder of the salient points of the meeting, and to assign actions.

In "difficult" HR mtgs I do as you do, and try to record word for word - if things get difficult (tribunal / union reps involved) then it is really important to have both the individual and manager's comments recorded accurately. I agree with other posters - keep a copy of your minutes, if only to cover your back if the situation goes belly-up in the future.


LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 25-May-13 17:34:22

They sound very rude and unprofessional to sneer at your qualifications. That makes no sense to me.

I think it's fair for them to say that's not how they expected you to do it, and btw, I don't know if it's a typo, but the phrase is 'up the ante'. Maybe, being used to the other woman who paraphrased, they thought you were making them sound silly? I can imagine it could be a bit of a shock to hear your off-the-cuff phrases quoted back at you if you weren't expecting it.

They were very wrong to be so rude about the whole thing, though.

Floggingmolly Sat 25-May-13 17:33:08

You don't need "presenting skills" to take minutes hmm.
You are totally correct; they are supposed to be a complete verbatim account of what took place. You could probably add a separate sheet with the main gist set out in bullet points, but what you did wasn't wrong at all.

LoveBeingUpAt4InTheMorning Sat 25-May-13 17:25:21

For hr meetings I always did this, the small differences make a huge difference

EnlightenedOwl Sat 25-May-13 10:38:21

It depends on the meeting. For a general team meeting bullet points of agreed actions is fine. But for a meeting say a disciplinary meeting verbatim notes are essential. And that includes exactly what someone said.

lljkk Thu 16-May-13 20:28:42

With minutes there is usually a house style and you need to ask carefully before you vary much from it.

No harm done, though, some lessons learnt. Don't know why you're so bothered.

jelliebelly Thu 16-May-13 18:20:17

There is a difference between taking minutes at a meeting and being a scribe to record what was said during a meeting. Minutes would be for team meetings or board meetings. Anything HR related should as accurate as possible - any employment tribunal will want facts not fiction...

kotinka Thu 16-May-13 18:16:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Oblomov Thu 16-May-13 18:09:38

Thank you All.

I left work. Due to the time, I was forced to agree, that the minutes I had prepared, would be edited by the manager chairing the meeting and the Director and THEN sent to the HR consultant for approval.

Obviously I am not happy with this, becasue it is my name that is listed as the minute taker. And the final version of the minutes are not what I produced, nor are they something that I wish to put my name to. And I do not think they are correct .

But I am not sure what to do.
When it is next bought up, next week, when I do the payroll and calculate the persons notice pay and holiday entitlement, do I say something then about how i am uncomfortable with my name being on the minutes of something I did not produce?
And what about he jokes re my presentation skills. Not really funny, was it? Or do I just let that go too?

Wishiwasanheiress Thu 16-May-13 17:46:16

For hr matters its VIP its an accurate reflection of words used. I thoroughly agree with your version op.

Your bosses are tools, but then you knew that. Agree with others suggestions too. Just wanted to add to agreement group to help u feel better smile

secretscwirrels Thu 16-May-13 17:39:14

Agree with EarlGrey.
In my last job a new manager did away with minutes altogether for most meetings. It was quite refreshing, there was a list of action points produced what / how / who / when and that was enough.

In this case it sound as though they just wanted a summary but actually if it was a disciplinary meeting I think you did the right thing.

flowery Thu 16-May-13 17:36:06

Hi Oblomov

Exactly what K8 said. A disciplinary or similar meeting is not the same as a normal meeting and the exact words can be quite important.

I also fail to see what your BA/MA have to do with it - I certainly didn't learn to take minutes as part of my higher education and it didn't seem to hinder me in any way!

kotinka Thu 16-May-13 17:35:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EarlGreyTeabag Thu 16-May-13 17:32:12

I've worked as a minute taker, taking notes at different kinds of meeting and I have to say I agree with you OP.

There are two types of minutes - resolution minutes which just record the main points and decisions and are used for example for committee meetings, and narrative minutes which are a detailed, almost verbatim record of everything that was said at the meeting and which are used for example for disciplinary hearings. Sometimes a verbatim record is essential if the meeting is particularly sensitive & contentious.

In your shoes, I would've done the same thing and taken as verbatim a record as I could of what was said at the disciplinary hearing. I would probably also have recorded the meeting as a back up.

GlaikitFizzog Thu 16-May-13 17:29:59

I know from experience, certain types of manager don't like minutes to be recorded as it means they cannot get away from what was actually said. Could this be the issue here?

I second what K8 said and speak to the HR consultant on their view on the style of minutes for this type of meeting.

I would also bring up the "joking" about your qualifications, and how unprofessional it is to belittle someone. That might put the shiters up them a wee bit.

Oblomov Thu 16-May-13 17:23:00

Jean Bodel, not harsh at all. I am all ears.

What about when minutes are recorded on a recording machine then?

You are not supposed to record what someone actually said? I thought that was the whole point of recording minutes.
You then follow it up with a professionl letter, using the correct terminology.
I must have missed the whole point of minutes.
I thought i was supposed to record what was actually SAID at the disciplinary meeting. Incase you get an unfair dismissal claim?

If I am totally wrong, I don't mind, but please could you clarify.
You do not see is as that?

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