I don’t know if it is just among us Pakish people that we have a way of saying things like…. ‘meeting sheeting’, ‘school feeses’…. (sounding like the other feces!), saying ‘electric city’ to electricity, and so on. ‘Meeting’ being added with ‘sheeting’ can be quite appropriate as many meetings in establishments do end up quite ‘sheeting’!
Sudden meetings at one of my work places would end up being a horror. A normal day had one up at six a.m, with a commute of one hour. Office hours 8.00 a.m. till 3 p.m. and getting home by 4 p.m. Many times, just when I would be thankfully leaving, the guard would inform me at the gate, ‘Madam, the boss has asked all staff to be in the office for a meeting now.’ So, I would have to cancel any other things I’d planned for the rest of the evening.
Finally, the meeting would start, with entire school staff there wondering what it was all about through half of it. It would come to the point: by giving us more work to do after that ‘meeting’, and having to stay on another two hours! Now, if this work had been given earlier, around 10.30 a.m. that day, it would have been completed by 3.00 p.m. No Sir, the boss was too busy at that time. So, yes, I’d say meetings sheetings is the right terminology in most cases. Otherwise, if one would have been warned a day earlier, at least one would have been prepared for it.
I’m sure you too remember ‘meetings’ where the entire staff of an organization is gathered to some ‘sheeting’ being doled out to a few, just so the rest of the staff is also warned properly. Most of the staff have nothing to do with it, and feel exasperated. As the head of an organization several times, I’d be well aware of such working methods: I’d studied points on ‘how to conduct a meeting.’ Just a little planning before hand, helps in saving the time of all your subordinates:
1. Come prepared: The proper ‘home-work’ needed to be done by a boss is important.
2. Talk to the persons concerned: only those staff members to be called who are related to the issue at hand.
3. Be precise and to the point. It is vital for the boss to be concise and try to complete everything within the ‘office hours’. It is so important to respect the private life of one’s employees.
Luckily, there are organizations where I’ve worked who always did that. This was APSACS Secretariat where I worked in the Training and Development Department in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The meetings were brief and to the point and within office hours. The respect for personal time was complete.
The moment the office hours ended, everyone was expected to leave at once. That is how it was in Sheikh Zayed International Academy, in Islamabad also.
The famous ‘parent-teacher’ meetings in schools are another one. I’ve attended from both sides. – Mostly, as a teacher or administrator. Only the parents of our good students would turn up. The parents whom we, as teachers, really wanted to meet, never turned up. So, frankly, mostly the exercise was quite futile. Yet, again just 20 % of it was of some use. Yes, the inevitable Pareto’s Law.
Anyhow, I got carried away. Now, I’m not doing jobs. I’m my own boss. But I’ve found that meetings are essential even when you are your own boss. With whom? Well, several times in a month I have to conduct a ‘financial meeting’ with myself. My whole household knows that. The meeting is also to the point, concise and all-inclusive. Usually, I have my data at hand. At the end of it, I find out how ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ I am. Also, I find out exactly how much extravagance I can afford. So, my mother and daughter are sniggering while I’m at it. They know that soon I’ll come into the lounge sailing in my ballerina trance. (If, the meeting was good and I can splash around.) Or … I come in behaving as if nothing has happened. Then announce to the cruel world that ‘I’m bankrupt!’ Switching off all extra lights as I go, telling the staff not to waste any money in the kitchen. Be careful with all resources. The cook is told that he will have to cook economical dishes only – this is not a free hotel!
On the other hand, when I’m rich, everyone gets a bonus, an extra dress, and food is cooked and distributed for the poor and rich alike. So, I get more good prayers from all. By the way, the food is distributed even during my ‘poverty stricken’ times, as then I have even more empathy for them.
There are other meetings too; When a member of my staff has made some mistake. The drawing-room becomes my ‘office’- the only room where you can have an uninterrupted conversation. So, when a staff member is asked to meet me in the drawing-room. He knows, there is some ‘talk’ coming up. Starting briefly, making sure of starting and ending on a good note. In between, the actual stuff is stuffed in. I usually, praise them in public. So, no meetings for that.
I was furious with my gardener, Niaz. As you all know, but I can never fire him. This time I was serious. So, I asked my maid if she knows a good gardener. She said “I’ll get you one.” No meeting was necessary, as five years of warnings are enough.
Suddenly, I found him actually working in my front lawn. In fact he dug up the grass and said “I’m putting in new grass, and won’t charge you a penny!” Then the new gardener-to-be walked in and asked him “where is Baji?” That was it. Niaz was fuming. But he finally won the day by transforming the front lawn so well, that I had to let the other guy go. So, my old gardener is back. He said “I cannot leave work at Baji Irum (my front door neighbor) and your place.” Then his face contorted, saying “I’ll sort out your maid.” I told him, “You better not, I had asked her, I’m fed up with your ways!”
Another time, I had a meeting with myself, when I was ‘financially ‘poor’. The fact came about that I’m over staffed. One of them must go. So, I worked out how much I’d save due to his going, and how the household won’t be affected. I shared the information with my mother. She just gave me her knowing look. Kept silent. After all, companies like Microsoft have done it, so have many others in the US and here in Pakistan. – I should know! Why can’t I let one man go?
After ten minutes I realized, I can’t. How could I remove a person who has stood by me during my hard times? I can cut down anywhere else, but not by letting such a man go. Yes, Mum smiled when I told her. “I knew it.” She said.
So, that’s how these ‘meetings sheetings’ go. Whether they are with the whole organization, your home staff, your own children or with one’s own self! Its a 80/20 ratio so one needs to cut the unnecessary parts out!
Meanwhile, Stay blessed lovely one. 🙂
Note: Photographs provided by author and cartoons taken with thanks from Google images.