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Story of my most useless meeting?
Too many to mention. Here's one. Years ago a new HR associate was specifically hired to better engage the workforce. About once a week, she conducted about an hour to two hour meetings which consisted of every 'touchy-feely' idea you could think of. I swear any day I was going to walk into a meeting and do the "fall back into your partner" trust exercises.
One particular meeting, 'Betty' engaged us with the topic of what keeps us motivated, and I was a little more annoyed than usual because I was behind on a system critical project and these meetings were mandatory.
User1: "Knowing I make customer satisfaction my number one priority."
User2: "The strong sense of accomplishment I feel by doing my best"
<you could almost hear Betty's gasp>
Betty: "Oh, no, money shouldn't be the motivator. Money is like icing on the cake. Tell us what keeps you happy and engaged."
<other users nod their heads in engagement>
Me: "Again, money."
User3: "I can't...ugh..I don't believe..oh..why would you say that? I think being part of such a great team is payment enough."
<more nodding of heads>
Me: "Do you work for free? I don't. None of us do. Would any of you keep doing your jobs here if you weren't getting paid?"
Betty: "That is really not the point of this meeting."
Me: "Sure it is. I'll bet if Order Taking starting providing bonuses for positive after-call surveys, employee satisfaction would go through the roof. Anyone else like that idea?"
Betty: "Your attitude isn't helping this discussion. Lets move on."
Me: "Lets not. In 20?? the Gartner group performed a study where they 'discovered' the primary motivator for employees was money. You want employees to perform better, you pay them. It is really that simple."
<I could see the looks of "Its OK to speak my mind?" and others wanting to speak up>
Betty: "Moving on. Lets go over the company core values again and discuss how they enrich our lives at work and at home."
I kept quiet for the rest of the meeting.
The poop hit the fan, and my boss pulls me into a conference room
Boss: "Betty is really pissed at you. She went directly to the VP of HR"
Me: "Good. Does this mean I don't have to attend the enrichment meetings?"
Boss: "Yea, that was her idea of punishment. Lucky bastard."10
HR made a day long inclusiveness meeting. About why there are so few women in the department. Basically the conclusion the HR rep was looking for was “toxic masculinity” and it was super uncomfortable.
The engineering teams couldn’t actually participate much because most of them worked on teams without any women and have absolutely nothing to do with hiring. The male engineers were trying to play along and give the right answers. We had to do flip charts and beak into teams and etc.
The HR kept singling out the same three women in engineering and telling the men to “shut up and listen to them”. The female engineers were like, “i don’t know. I don’t have much to say about it.” The HR rep continued to drill those three women to the point that it was uncomfortable.
The engineering hiring manager lost it before noon. He went to his desk and grabbed a stack of resumes. “You gave me a stack of 60 resumes. Looking at names only four applicants are female. Those applicants don’t have education or experience for engineering. If you want more female engineers in the office you have to put qualified applicants into the stack. Forcing these three engineers to talk in front of our department over and over and saying the men have to shut up is not making the workplace less toxic.” Then he told the three engineers, “This meeting is now optional for you three and you are welcome to do anything you want with your time.”
After lunch, all the female engineers went back to their desk and worked. The HR continued to shame the men in an angrier tone for the rest of the day telling everyone “how men can be” from personal experience because they were the ones now representing all women.
Eight bloody hours of that.132
A room full of mostly old male stressed out engineers sat in chairs, and the presenter said:
"So who watched Judging Amy last night?"
The presenter went on to express her surprise that nobody in the room had seen last night's episode of Judging Amy.... and wasn't going to drop the topic.
The meeting, if it ever had any, now had no chance of going anywhere good.
By the end of the meeting someone would walk out and "retire" shortly there after, and it certainly wasn't going to be the presenter....
The company built on the IBM model of sell pricey custom hardware (granted it worked really well) and sell expensive support contracts wasn't doing as well as it had hoped. Granted it was still doing better than most of its neighboring companies, but it was clear that with the .com bust the days of catered lunches every day were over.
The company had grown fat and everyone knew that while the company had a good enough product(s) to survive, there weren't enough lifeboats for everyone to survive.
In the midst of this an HR department that took up nearly 20% of the office space at HQ felt it needed to justify its existence / expenses.
They decided to do this in the same way they always had, by taking funding from other departments, this time not by simply demanding more direct budgets for themselves.... they decided to impose mandatory 'training' on other departments ... that they would then bill for this training.
When HR got wind that there were some stressed out engineers the solution was, as it always is for HR.... to do more HR stuff:
They decided to take these time starved engineers away from their jobs, and put them in a room with HR for 4 days. Meanwhile the engineer's tasks, deadlines and etc remained the same.
Support got roped into it too, and that's how I ended up there.
It would be difficult to describe the chasm between HR and everyone else at that company. This was an HR department that when they didn't have enough cubes (because of constant remodeling in the HR area under the guise of privacy) sat their extra HR employees next to engineering and were 'upset' that the engineers 'weren't very friendly and all they did was work'.
At one point a meeting to discuss this point of contention was called off for some made up reason or another by someone with a clue.
So there we all sat, our deadlines kept ticking away and this HR team (3 people) stood at the front of the room and were perplexed that none of these mostly older males in this room had seen last night's episode of Judging Amy.
From there the presentation was chaos, because almost the entire thing was based on your knowledge of what happened to poor stressed out Amy ... or something like that.
We were peppered with HR tales of being stressed out and taking a long lunch and feeling better, and this magical thing where the poor HR person went and had a good cry with her boss and her boss magically took more off her plate (a brutal story where the poor HR person was almost moved to tears again).
The lack of apparent sympathy (really nobody said much at all) and lack of seeming understanding from the crowd of engineers that all they should do is take a long lunch, or tell their boss to solve their problems ... seemed to bother the HR folks. They were on edge.
So then they finally asked "What are your stressers?" And they picked the worst possible person they could to ask, Ted.
Ted was old, he prickly, he was the only one who understood the worst ass hell of assembly that had been left behind.
Ted made a mistake, he was honest with folks who couldn't possibly understand what he was saying. "This mandatory class is stressing me out. I have work to do and less time because of this class."
The exchange that followed was kinda horrible and I recall sitting behind Ted trying to be as small as possible as to not be called on. Exactly what everyone said almost doesn't matter.
A pedantic debate between Ted and the HR staff about "mandatory" and "required" followed. I will just sum it up that they were both in the wrong for how they behaved for a good 20 minutes...
Ted walked out, and would later 'retire' that week.
Ted had a history and was no saint. I suspect an email campaign by various folks who recounted the events that day spared ted the 'fired' status and he walked with what eventually would become the severance package status quo.
HR never again held another 'training', most of them would all finally face the axe a few months later after the CEO finally decided that 'customer facing, and product producing' headcount had been reduced enough ... and it was other internal staff's time for that.
The result of the meeting was one less engineer, and everyone else had 4 days less of work done...7
The meeting that was supposed to be my onboarding. Their senior developer, the same shithead I ranted about for months, is too busy to talk to me. After several follow-ups by the manager, he asked if we can have a quick meeting. It was just a few minutes before the shift ended. He talked non-stop about shit I don't need or care about, occasionally throwing in some information that I do care about.
Me: "So which tools should I learn?"
Him: "This, this, and that. Actually, we want someone who already knows all of these but these are new so we <insert rollercoaster of passive-aggressive way of saying that they *settled* for me>." I'm the only senior here who knows all these stuff.
Blah, blah, blah..
I taught everyone you see outside this room and I passed the certification.
Blah, blah, blah..
I was actually surprised that you're here because I do the interviews but then I went on vacation and when I came back, you're here."
Just an hour of this "meeting" where it's 10% onboarding and 90% "look how great I am, you'll never be as senior as I am, and these people owe me their careers." It's like watching a really good documentary that's full of ads. You want the fucking juice, nothing but the juice, and you wish you can pay premium so bad.
Then he went on and on about office politics and how I should avoid that one manager he hates because he's a liar. It cut off there when someone entered the meeting room. After some time of working with him, I found out who the bad guy really is and apparently, the team was separated because of his drama.
The first person to talk so much shit to a newcomer is the most toxic person in the organization. People who should have left a long time ago.6
I don't have _a_ most worthless meeting. I have a template. We have meetings like this frequently:
"Customer wants x, y and z done"
"Ok, do we have a data spec for x?"
"Do we know what the output for y will be?"
"No, still in development"
"We can't really do z yet until we know more about x and y"
"Next week. Or sooner. Maybe later. We don't know yet"
At this point I usually think: And we're meeting now...why?
Boss: *calls everyone* URGENT MEETING. If you're on your lunch break, then stop and join the video call. Is it a weird time in your timezone? Wake up. But COME
Omg what happened? Is the server down? Are we getting a huge client? What is so urgent that it needs all of our attention right now?
Boss: I'm afraid that I won't be able to stay long in this meeting.
... then WHY the f did you call this meeting?
Boss: that's why we'll have a meeting next at *such hour*. In the meantime, talk to your respective departments about what you've been doing and what you need from each other. See you!
Most useless meeting?
I once went to a meeting where people spent half an hour discussing when to reschedule the meeting that we were in because we couldn't have it then even though nobody was absent. The actual rescheduled meeting was also half an hour long, and could have occurred during the time when we discussed when the meeting should occur.
I've been to a lot of useless meetings (I still think that most meetings I attend could have just been an email chain or Slack conversation), but that one takes the cake.3
The one time a piece of software I was semi-responsible for maybe had been compromised. But I was student dev so I wasn't even brought into the meeting despite being the only person in the entire organization who knew how it worked. Gr8 politics, glad you hennies trust me. They came out and a good colleague of mine was brave enough to come over and ask if maybe I knew how this and that worked and I could clear up the confusion they spent 45 minutes on in 20 seconds 🙃7
Company President: No one needs to worry about losing their job due to COVID. We’re an essential business and won’t be effected.
48 hours later
IT Director: There have been severe budget cuts and we are letting go of the two highest salaried employees from every department. You are no longer employed.2
Friday meeting 2 hours before the weekend:
Manager: I want this and this and that and that feature implemented.
Me: Ok, next week I'll do it.
Monday meeting 2 hours after the weekend:
Manager: Have you already implemented this and this and that and that feature you promised to do?
Ever fuckinn "townhall meeting" at previous workplace. It was such an utter waste of time that even after leaving that place I still rage when thinking about it.
Every 4-6 months they would setup this useless crap of a meeting that drags on for over 1-1.5 hours of execs talking themselves up and trying to convince how great they are. And since they were cheapskates they would send out an email asking everyone to not join from their desks but congregate in the conference rooms to save on the dial-in. The conference rooms didn't have adequate chairs, vantilation or good enough aircon to handle twice/thrice the capacity of people standing in the room.
The marketing exec would go on and on about how great the media visibility is, how many views/likes they had on a linkedin post last month. The sales exec would blabber on about how their team is great and that the customers themselves are lining up and there is no competitor. Straight after the CFO would lecture on how the year is still difficult financially (in disguise justifying the peanuts of pay). The last exec, no matter who that is would specifically raise a point that the previous speakers didn't mention his/her team while thanking others.
This is also not a small company, the total headcount was just over 900 and roughly 500-700 people would be attending these townhalls. Imagine the amount of man hours wasted on that shitshow.6
Ever have to put your work on hold due to being called into a 2 hour meeting to discuss how important it is that we need this thing finished asap.1
Worked on a team where every single sprint planning was a useless meeting because we were expected to deliver everything in the backlog every sprint. So what are we really planning?5
It wasn't exactly a meeting, just boss' boss coming into our office to ask about a feature. Went something like this (BB - boss' boss (or Big Bitch, whichever you prefer, Me, SP - second programmer) :
BB: Hey guys, I've got a question.
Me (without turning around since I was focused on whatever I was doing at the time) : Sure, go ahead.
BB: Could we do a country map where you would be able to click a region and get to a page with posts for that region?
Me (without pausing what I was doing) : Sure, easy. Html imagemap, or embedded flash if it's supposed to be fancy and animated.
BB: ...how would we do it?
Me (in exactly the same tone of voice, trying to mimic the same sound sample being played again) : Html imagemap, or embedded flash if it's supposed to be fancy and animated... Links leading to the same address as the filtering form for regions already goes. All that's needed is the map graphic.
BB: ...but how would we link to the correct results? Would we need to make new page for those?
At this point SP stops doing whatever he was doing, proceeds to sit next to her by the whiteboard, and they proceed to talk about this for about 45 minutes, which to this day, I have no idea how they managed. I had no idea how they managed to stretch it for this long even as I was listening to them talking and drawing stuff on the whiteboard about it.
Afterwards, I've been reprimanded for not paying proper attention when important stuff was being solved, and a month later when I was being fired, I had been reprimanded for it once again.
Fuck that company. Fuck those people.
I have no idea how they managed to still not go bankrupt.15
We spent 9 hours taking a vote, across all of the dev team (including junior devs), about how to design the backend architecture and which security measures we should take.
The CTO refused to listen to the person assigned to the design (me at the time) because he preferred fire-and-forget for EVERYTHING, ignoring all of the blatant drawbacks, and claimed that "there is no truly fault tolerant system", which is such a cop-out that my mind still cannot fathom it.
So therefore, since he couldn't have it his way, we took it to a vote (not my decision). Spent nine hours discussing the pros and cons of HTTP vs MQ systems to arrive at a vote.
I "won", and then left the company shortly after, because it was clear that even though the votes were in my favor, I was going to be "nickel and dimed" to death about the changes and how it's deployed, etc. to the point the system will end up like the previous systems they wrote.
Oh and the fact I was asked to help "improve morale" for the team that was working on the old, broken, overengineered project (I don't manage them nor did I write any of that code) by being assigned to arrange breakfast catering because it'd somehow mean more "coming from a senior dev".
I loved the people there - truly, some of the best people - but the company was broken from the ground to the ceiling.
CTO was let go a while after I left, I guess - most of the dev team has since left too and the majority of their work is being outsourced to Indian subcontractors.
Too many to count, but this one useless meeting stands out the most.
I was working as an outside dev for software corporation. I was hired as an UI dev although my skill set was UI/engineer/devops at the time.
we wrote a big chunk of 'documentation' (read word files explaining features) before the project even started, I had 2 sprints of just meetings. Everybody does nothing, while I set up the project, tuned configs, added testing libraries, linters, environments, instances, CI/CD etc.
When we started actual project we had at least 2 meetings that were 2-3 hours long on a daily basis, then I said : look guys, you are paying me just to sit here and listen to you, I would rather be working as we are behind the schedule and long meetings don't help us at all.
ok, but there is that one more meeting i have to be on.
So some senior architect(just a senior backend engineer as I found out later) who is really some kind of manager and didn't wrote code for like 10 years starts to roast devs from the team about documentation and architectural decisions. I was like second one that he attacked.
I explained why I think his opinion doesn't matter to me as he is explaining server side related issues and I'm on the client-side and if he wants to argue we can argue on actual client-side decisions I made.
He tried to discuss thinking that he is far superior to some noob UI developer (Which I wasn't, but he didn't know that).
I started asking some questions and soon he felt lost and offended. We ended that discussion with conclusion that I made my own decisions on the client-side. That lasted less than 10 minutes.
So I just sit there and eat popcorn for next 4 and half hours listening to their unnecessary discussions where some angry manager that did programing decades ago wanted to show that we are all noobs and stupid.
what a sad human being.
what a waste of time, but hey I got payed for this 5 hour meeting.1
My most useless meeting was probably the review meeting for a new team I had to consult for a short while for. A review to find why nothing gets done on time. Everyone showed up an hour late, including the boss.4
Every Monday I am privileged to wake up 1. 5 hours earlier and listen to executives talk about what meetings they had with potential customers and what news about ongoing agreements with other potential customers (which have been in the pipeline for 1 year or more sometimes)
Why is this necessary?? There has been virtually no progress on any of the topics discussed. At least nothing that concerns us devs.
Instead we get to wake up earlier, waste 1 hour, and get bored listening to what essentially seems like a sales speech while convince the employees the company is not spinning its tires while stuck in the mud.3
Had a meeting with about 5 people, 4 of which showed up, 1 of which did not.
Guess which one was the subject matter expert without whom we spent 55 minutes positing what-if's that could've been easily answered if that individual was there?
Yup. Never rescheduled, and that was the end of that conversation.
Every general meeting with a CEO who has never tried the freaking product or prototype and has zero technical knowledge.
As well, just about two out of three meetings with a HR person.
I've had meetings with a CTO too where it legit could be a boring handbook or email used for inducing sleep at night.3
Once you advance on the ladder and eventually make it to senior or management level then every fucking meeting is useless AF
Most of them, there is a good 99.999999% chance that the meeting is going to be absolutely fucking pointless.1
A meeting to redefine the definition of done. Which a "senior" programmer threw in.
3 hours after we are still there to "define"... All of this because this developer and a couple more want to keep a physical board which has no space for a "testing" section, so the tasks need either to be done-but-not-really and this is technically wrong (who cares?) or in-progress-but-not-really which is technically wrong (again, who cares?).
Just effin find a bigger board and don't waste 3 hours of my life and/or start thinking pragmatically and accept tasks can move backwards or have a ticket saying "testing" stuck to them, ffs!
The funny part? This dev is probably one of the grumpiest devs I met when you talk about meetings which are actually useful.4
I have had meetings that lasted 4 or 5 hours most of which I didn't listen to so they must have been useless.
We were contracted into this big corporate company about 12km down the highway from us in the most congested part of the city.
We had a 1 hour meeting scheduled for the Wednesday that we had to drive in for, on the day before that we had to drive in for a 1 hour planning meeting for the next days meeting.
We had a 1 hour meeting to plan a 1 hour meeting...1
The one they say they fire you and say that everything will be all right and you’re nice but you have to live.
If you ever be in such situation remember at the end to thank them a lot that they decided to fire you but also ask why it took them so long to figure this out. ( especially if you work more than couple of years ).
Their faces after your question - priceless.
Thank again and immediate leave afterwards so they can ask themselves this question till the end of their lives and you will actually feel better and remember their stupid faces that will make you laugh when you’re old.
And yeah everything gonna be probably all right but you need to find better job not same stupid deep shits.1
Every meeting that contains one or more of the following points:
- "I don't think it belongs in the meeting, but"
- "Didn't get the meeting notes"
- "When's the food coming?"
- "I know we've said no technical discussion, but..."
- "Why is he so strict, this is no fun meeting at all :("
- "I think it's unfair to include risk assessment, you blame US before XY is finished"
- "The admins / the Team XY / ZX didn't talk with us, so we don't talk with him / her / them..."
- "Why are we here?"
- "Why is it so bad when production is down?"
- "I didn't know we do security / audit checks... Why hasn't anyone told us?"
- "Not happening. I'm against it"
- "I don't want to work with XY - he doesn't do it like I want it"
I could add thousand more things here.
I had countless meetings where I really thought that I was an alien who got broadcasted in a comedy reality TV soap...9
I’ve had meetings specifically for team A’s problems. Team B gets invited to assist. Within ten minutes the meeting was all about team B and none of team A’s problems were solved. “Team B” is notorious for hijacking meetings. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t feel qualified to speculate about WHY they do this...2
Setting up the meeting agenda in an accessible place (the same doc used for every recurring meeting which is accessible by everyone in the team) and having the calendar invite that goes to their emails... And guess what?
Those SCABBY NUMPTIES still find a way not to see the fucking video conference link (or sort out their calendar, they are freaking CS grads) and then proceed to spend at least half the meeting (and often showing up late) not having a clue what was expected of them...
YA DIMWIT!! EVERYTHING IS IN THE SAME DOCUMENT, AND YET YOU DIDN'T KNEW WHAT TASKS YOU HAD TO DO BEFORE, INCLUDING THE ONES YOU WERE TOLD TO DO WEEKS AGO???
They all have a BSc in CS (one of which has a MSc) and yet shit like this happens occasionally.
And that happened several times.2
Any and every HR induction I've ever been to.
Oohh, look at us, here are our working practices, we're so amazing, look how cool this company is, this famous person said nice things about us once, remember how important fire exits are, this guy is the boss, he's amazing, you're so lucky to be working here.
I don't give a crap, you've just wasted half my first day that I could have spent listening into scrum ceremonies, familiarising myself with the code, meeting my actual team, etc. - you know, doing stuff that's actually useful.
But nooo, Sharon and Dave from HR have to justify their jobs by filling everyone's morning with useless crap 🙄1
Most useless meetings I attended was in my previous company. Our f***king boss suggested that manager must have to take one morning meeting with the whole team about that tasks what needs to be done. And our bastard manager calls the whole team and wasted time all of us cause our work is not related to each other so he is explaining one on one and rest are looking at his face what type of species he is :P
Every week you meet with the loneliest dumb person explaining what you had already explained the last week.
Even now I remember the week that it all started. It all happened when I got the job 😅