EB103 - Vocational Certainty™ Question:   I am weary of attending meetings that accomplish nothing; wasting time and money listening to the same people saying nothing of value over and over again.  It’s an agony I’ve experienced repeatedly but don’t know what to call it.  Is it just me?

Larry:  Yeah, that’s it -- you’re the problem.  Just kidding, but sometimes you begin to wonder just how far out of step you might be with the others in the room.  This is especially troublesome when the meeting agenda is to improve a product or service, or to eliminate a serious problem but instead is dominated by useless discussions that resolve nothing.  That’s the kind of experience you can expect when people try to resolve an issue without accurate, reliable information and the responses necessary to have a reasonable conversation.  What's lacking is called Vocational Certainty™.

Vocational Certainty™ requires that we ask these questions of ourselves: Should I be sitting in this particular chair doing this particular job?  Should I be involved in this particular discussion?  Am I equipped by education and experience to perform effectively the task before me?   Too often, too many of the people in a meeting can not firmly answer “yes” to these questions.

As a manager, I want to be sure that the people around me are truly qualified.  I will also be concerned about the character of the people who represent me to my employees and customers.  Some of the greatest heartbreaks I have witnessed took place because a leader had not thoroughly tested and proven the skills and character of his staff before they were allowed to act on his or her behalf.  It’s a frightening thing to sit in a meeting with a leader who has no idea how poorly a staff member is serving the agenda because the leader has failed to discover what others in the room already know, that one or more of the participants lack Vocational Certainty™.

So the obvious question is: Who’s really out of step?  Is it you, others in the meeting, or the convener who is missing the point?  If the convener lacks Vocational Certainty™, it’s very unlikely that he or she can conduct an effective meeting.  A secure, competent manager knows when to lead, follow, or get out of the way.