How do you run your Employee Meetings? Do you have Employee Meetings? What is the purpose of the meeting? I've always enjoyed employee meetings, whether they were driver meetings, dispatch meetings, or manager meetings. There are people you work with, or who work for you, that you don't get to see very often, so you don't communicate with them. Done right, meetings keep everyone on the same page and bring them together as a unit. Done wrong, well, at least there's usually donuts or pizza, so who can complain about that? Want excitement? Have donuts AND pizza!

We used to have employee meetings at our manager's house, when I was a driver. He would have pizza and (ahem) beverages, and we would bring our significant others, and we'd talk and laugh and eventually get around to talking business. The spouses were part of the process, because let's face it, employees go home and talk about work to their spouse, and often it's not happy talk, and the spouses have opinions, and sometimes good ideas, so they are part of your business, in a way. Our group was really a family. Many of us worked there for many years, and employees would become good friends with not only each other, but with each other's spouses and families.

The unique thing about your spouse's workplace and work situation is that you don't work there, so there is not the same dynamic between you and your spouse's boss, for instance, as there is between your spouse and his or her boss. You don't have a job to lose, so you feel maybe that you can say things that your spouse can't say, not without fear of being fired anyway. Same thing with co-workers. You might come home from work every night and tell your wife or husband what an idiot so-and-so is, and over time your spouse starts wondering why somebody doesn't do something about this idiot, so then when she or he meets your boss, it's the first question that pops into her or his head: "Say, how come you haven't fired so-and-so for being an idiot?" Or she meets so-and-so and just asks him why he IS an idiot. Good times.

I'm not saying my wife does this kind of stuff. I'm not saying it--I'm writing it. One time my boss threatened to "ban her from the property" for "criticizing" his management techniques (I can't print the actual transcript). To his credit, he never seemed to let any disagreements he had with her to carry over into our working relationship with each other. And really, I worked for him a long time, so they got along almost all of the time and liked and respected each other, and still do. The last meeting we ever had at his house (spoiler alert: "last" meeting we had at his house), we were all there, employees and spouses or quasi-spouses, and we had a new dispatcher, whom my wife had befriended, and for some reason--we don't know why--my wife started asking my boss about her break schedule. She really didn't have a break schedule. That seemed to be the crux of the issue. You know how that works: single Dispatcher, drivers coming in and out, someone watches the phones while she runs to the porta-potty, she comes back and all hell has broken loose, the driver has written down unintelligible notes with half of the necessary information, he spilled his soda on her chair, she kicks him out of the office. That kind of thing. My boss' perspective was that when the phone wasn't ringing, she was basically on a perpetual break, so scheduled 15-minute breaks weren't really necessary. My wife's position was that there are work laws that require scheduled breaks and lunch periods. The new Dispatcher tried to convince my wife that she was okay with how it worked (remember, she has a job that she wants to keep, whereas my wife is arguing for entertainment), but she was on a roll.

I don't think it escalated to shouting, but it got animated at one point. I think legal action was threatened. From both parties.

The next day a new Employee Meeting rule was announced: NO Spouses at the Meeting. So we stopped going to his house, because that's where HIS spouse was.

It was never as fun after that.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper

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