Dear Meeting Guru,

What do you do about a person who is consistently absent from meetings she should be attending?


Blessed Meeter,

The best way to ensure that a person attends a meeting is to make her presence part of the agenda. Assign her a task, such as bringing information to the meeting or giving a short presentation on a pertinent topic. Include the task on the agenda and distribute it to all attendees. Most people would rather show up for the meeting prepared than risk the embarrassment of letting colleagues know they've neglected such a small assignment.

You can also approach the person to ask why she consistently misses meetings – surrounding your question with positive energy, of course. It may be that she doesn't have a full understanding of the purpose of the meeting and its relevance to her work. If so, clarify her role in the meeting and the reasons she needs to be there.

Or the problem could be with the meetings themselves. Perhaps they should be broken into sections. No one likes to attend an hour-long meeting when 60 percent of the information covered doesn't relate to her. In a weekly meeting I attend – yes, even gurus need to meet to enhance their wisdom – the agenda is structured so that topics affecting all attendees are taken care of first and issues relating to a few people come after. This streamlines meetings and uses everyone's time efficiently, letting participants get back to their busy days after topics affecting them are covered.

I admire your initiative in trying to correct a problem within your office. As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." In other words, we learn from our mistakes, so figure out what's wrong and work toward fixing it.

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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