Last Monday at 9 pm, I got a message from my supervisor: ’Go to the office tomorrow morning, we will have a meeting with the director.’ ‘May I know at what time exactly?’ I replied. ‘Nine o’clock,’ he answered.
Had it been my first time to receive such an order during the off-hours, I would have got irritated immediately, but then quickly calmed down to ask a series of details about what, when, who, how and why in order to be better prepared for this meeting. However, as I have become so habituated to these short of notices since I am working in China, I stop bothering to ask too many details. This will be to no avail, anyway.
The other day, I attended another one of those typical no-agenda paper-free internal meetings. It turned out to be a very important one, aimed at setting up the annual cooperate plan for 2015. (Yes, you heard me! A meeting for the annual plan in the mid of March!)
Given the meeting etiquette in China, one is not supposed to ask questions unless being called for opinions by the chair. But I was so annoyed by the poor management that when it was time for questions, before the closure of the meeting, I challenged everyone: ‘I’m really motivated by our ambition, but can we accomplish all the tasks on the list?’ This seemed to embarrass the whole room. Thankfully the director didn’t feel insulted. Instead, he evasively indicated he would consider my advice.
These experiences make me miss the meetings I attended in Wageningen, where I learnt to be a competent meeting attendee. The colleagues I ever worked with taught me how a meeting should be organised, with an agenda, minutes, action list and, particularly, respect for questions and discussions.
But I am aware that if I want to change it, instead of whining here, I must take action. Maybe next time, in the next no-agenda meeting, I will take the initiative to at least take notes and write the minutes.