How is a Staff Meeting Like Thanksgiving Dinner?

staff meeting

In honor of Thanksgiving, today I want to ask you a question.

How is a staff meeting like Thanksgiving dinner?

I’ll start you off.

  • There will be crying.
  • Someone will be looking at her phoneΒ the entire time.
  • Someone will arrive really late.

Your turn! Get creative!

Have some fun and enter your own ideas to the list in the comments section below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Joan Garry
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Joan Garry

Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan works with board and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.
Joan Garry
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  • Natalie S.

    Brilliant! I love this. Ok… Someone will make an awkward/inappropriate comment that will silence the room.

    • Or perhaps a noise? Happy Thanksgiving Natalie!

  • Gina Reiss

    Very funny and so true! Someone will have a reason to phone it in
    …BTW: LOVE the picture.

    • Gina. Thanks for the props.Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!!

  • Cathy Rennna

    The picture frightened me, Joan. But it’s a great point and very true. How do you avoid talking about politics and religion (which should be the rule at most family dinners) at a staff meeting? Also, at some point there will be more than one conversation happening at one and there will be that one person who take the discussion off on a tangent no matter what….

    • Cathy. I understand the fright. I haven’t been seen in a dress in public in many years. This should make my mom mighty happy. And how do YOU avoid talking politics at ANY dinner????? πŸ™‚

  • Wendy

    Someone is likely to be the older/wiser “know it all” and they will monopolize the conversation, offering their opinion or corrections after every other person’s contribution!

    • Wendy. Yup. Have seen that in both settings for sure!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Surina Khan

    Someone will be passive aggressive. And another person might set an extra place at the table for the latecomer.

    • Surina. Only ONE person will be passive aggressive? I think I might really enjoy Thanksgiving at YOUR house!!!! Happy Happy!

  • carol mb

    Each person tunes into/eats a different part of the agenda/meal.

    • Carol. So true. Getting a group to look at things holistically is a big knot to untangle – in a staff and in a family. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Craig Coogan

    Carb overload.

    • Craig. You serve food at your staff meetings? When’s your next one? Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

      • Craig Coogan

        Food at any meeting is just a good idea. πŸ™‚

        • Sandee Weiner

          Oh the good old days of Nabisco! We ALWAYS had a box of Oreos or some kind of cookies on the table … best company store, ever! πŸ™‚

  • Richard

    Someone will talk too much and not listen, someone will be inspiring, someone will sulk, some will say really smart and helpful comments, someone will be testy and I’ll think how fond I am of all of them and how grateful I am to be working with them (and you) all to build a movements for justice. (Happy Thanksgiving)

    • Richard. This is funny and smart and sweet and right on. The messiness of it all can be awfully endearing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • Kevin Jennings

    People will avoid the “real issues” and talk nonsense.

    • Kevin — True that. But we all know that if you have the wrong people around the table talking about the right issues, it can be nonsense anyway πŸ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

  • April Mastroluca

    Someone will show up late and want to know everything that was discussed before they got there.

    • April. This is really really funny. And at staff meetings, far too often it is the BOSS! Have a great weekend.

  • Kathleen Klock

    Someone will be awkwardly over-thanked and someone will be awkwardly under-thanked.

    • Kathleen. I have SO been to THOSE staff meetings! Happy thanksgiving!

  • Benjamin Bashein

    There will be a “crazy uncle” who says something that is at best out of left field and at worst, offends others or puts them off.

    • Benjamin. You bet. And may my brother, the crazy Uncle John rest in peace. Thanksgiving dinners have not been the same without him πŸ™‚ Enjoy your weekend!!!

  • Leo Preziosi, Jr.

    everyone will be talking and no one will be listening…
    and everyone will be laughing about it.

    • Leo – Here’s to a lot of laughter at your Thanksgiving dinner!!!!!

  • Don

    Kids will be forced to put things on their plate that they didn’t ask for, things they don’t want. They will spend lots of time pushing the food around and getting nowhere.

    • Don. This is really funny and works in both settings perfectly. Happy thanksgiving!

  • Everybody eats and runs so they don’t have to clean up the mess. Joan, I LOVE that picture! It totally rocks! πŸ™‚

    • Laura – great addition. And thanks for the compliment. Next time you need social media strategy and web design, go hire immediately. The graphic is good because they really ‘get me.’

  • Jeff

    When it is all over, no one will want to do anything but nap…

    • Jeff. Hahahahaha!!! Thanks for this!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • SethMRosen

    Somebody always want to talk about themselves!

    • Seth. And if only that person was interesting!!! Happy Turkey Day to you and yours!

  • Kathleen McGuire

    Everyone brings their own agenda and isn’t very concerned about anyone else’s.

    • Kathleen — So true. I’m thinking about a printed agenda for our Thanksgiving dinner — to try to maintain some sense of order. πŸ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Charlie Finlay

    There is an unstated — but universally understood and expected — hierarchy of seating assignments based on power and partnerships.

    • Charlie — a great one! It’s not as obvious at staff meetings but you can imagine a grownup and a kid’s table, right? Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Arlene Dugan

    Someone brings nothing to the table!

    • Arlene. Totally. No dessert, no casserole, no good ideas…. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

      • Arlene dugan

        And to you and Eileen as well! Missed you the other night. Wanted you to meet the chickadees.

  • Jerry Smith

    Somebody will always kick someone under the table as a sign for them to shut up.

    • Sandee Weiner

      LOL! Very true!

    • Jerry. I have many bruises as evidence to support this one. Happy Thanksgiving to ypu and yours. Joan

  • Joshua Pedersen

    There is an abundance but we consume like there is a famine.

    • Joshua – there is something quite profound in this one as it relates to working in a nonprofit. Discussions often center around being under-resources rather than on the abundance of possibilities.. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Lori

    Someone will obsess about the flowers and place settings….Great image!

    • Lori – so true. Too much attention on the things that don’t really matter! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Susan Collins

    People will worry about what’s on everyone else’s plate instead of what’s on their own. They’re worried that they aren’t getting their fair share.

    • Susan. The “plate” metaphor is often used at staff meetings. Folks spend way too much time complaining about what is on their plates and paying much too much attention to the plates of others.Very good one indeed. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Kathy Zappia Gould

    Someone will rehash the same things over and over again and never come up with solutions. I love it Joan! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Kathy. Oh yes. Carrying ones’ baggage to a meeting or Thanksgiving dinner. And then upacking it. Ugh! Happy Thanksgiving Kathy!

  • Sharon

    There’s always a big fat turkey at the table.

    • Sharon. Hilarious. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours

  • Cathy Heidemann Overfield

    Someone will fall asleep at the table.

    • Cathy – indeed. Some folks at staff meetings have honed the art of doing this with their eyes open!! Happy Thanksgiving! Joan

  • Cynthia Denny

    Someone will win a vegetarian alternative

  • Jethro

    So, I have been in a deep depression for a couple of weeks now so excuse my trying to stay on the positive side – it’s my new mantra. How about, everyone brings something different to the table?

  • There is someone (the founder) who never cleans up after herself!

  • We will share things we are grateful for and proud of…thankfully our staff meetings are fun and rewarding!

  • Liz Moore

    Six hours getting ready, 23 minutes to eat, two hours cleaning up, and then a nap. Followed by standing in front of the refrigerator pretending we’re not eating more pie. I LOVE the picture. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  • Sheree Allison

    Do I have to go?
    It’s just the same ‘ole same ‘ole.
    And remember, I don’t like turkey.

    I’ll wait and have leftovers at the water cooler tomorrow,

  • lisaMmolloy

    Someone asks for the turkey. Turkey is put on their plate. They then whine and say that they asked for the ham.

  • Kate

    Someone new will come, proud to have been invited. She’ll proudly bring something she’s slaved over all week. An old-timer will take one look, turn up her nose, and declare that we don’t need any of that new-fangled stuff.

  • Liz Moore

    Six hours getting ready – 23 minutes actually eating – two hours cleaning up the mess. Followed by a nap and standing in front of the open refrigerator door pretending we’re not really going for more already. Happy Thanksgiving – and GREAT picture!

  • Suhag Shukla

    We’ll all be vegetarians, “convincing” one another of all that is good and just about vegetarianism (and bad and awful about the other guys) on our vegetarian echo table.

  • Bonnie

    No one is ever happy with the menu.
    Someone will INSIST on helping.
    Everyone will disappear when the real work begins

  • Jen C.

    Lots of laughs! I love my family and the people I work with. I’m very blessed.

  • Mark Flora-Swick

    It is the time for Turkeys, Candied hams and Festive nuts! But enough about my family! Or staff!

  • Valerie

    Someone will say the same story that everyone has heard year after year, someone will share a story that no one will really be listening to and someone will tell a joke that will fall flat

  • blawton

    If it goes on too long, everyone will be asleep.

  • Bob Wright

    There are too many “cooks” (who really don’t know what they’re doing) in the kitchen.
    Everyone has their own idea about how to carve the turkey.
    It will be deja by all over again next year.

  • Nicki Anderson

    Points of awkward silence followed up by, “Does anyone want any more mashed potatoes?”

  • You’re not quite sure if drinking will make things better or worse!
    And as a remote employee, I will add, you see people you haven’t seen in a long time, some of whom you sincerely love and it’s refreshing to your soul.

  • Amy Kibler

    Dinner will be late. Again.

  • Amy ‘Dessain’ Scavezze

    There will be parents judging other parents for how they raise their children and run their household

  • Heather Bland

    Some of the people you wish were there aren’t. Things (i.e. green bean casserole) might not be done the way I’d do them, but I trusted someone else to do them…and it turned out tastier than if I’d done it.

  • Susan Pope

    Everyone wishes we were just having a grilled cheese sandwich.

  • Bob Mersereau

    Someone like Joan will add a fun question to the table conversation that will result in those gathered knowing and appreciating each other more.

  • Jeannie Gracey

    It’s always better with alcohol!

  • Amy

    There’s a ton to be grateful for, a common bond that joins us all together, and a lot of laughter!

  • Kat

    Someone older will insist on bringing “the family’s favorite sweet potato dish” that no one likes anymore. One of the “youngsters” brings the Tofurky that no one likes either. The CEO brings the turducken because (as she’s been told by her assistant) based on research and experience, it’s what most people want. In the end, everyone gets drunk, has a fabulous time, and no one remembers what was eaten because the CEO gave out bonus checks!

  • Kat

    By the way, love what you did with that picture, Joan!

  • Robin

    Someone (usually me) tries to be overly inspirational…and is received with major eye-rolling. πŸ™‚

  • William Legge

    Sadly, Joan Garry wont be there, but it would be better if she was! (Both thanksgiving and our next staff meeting)

  • Dacia

    Someone will be over dressed and someone will be underdressed.

  • Marcie Miller

    There’s always that one person slaving away in the kitchen and feeling put upon because she’s doing ALL the work! She could be out enjoying herself, but that would make her righteous irritation moot.

  • CS

    There will be eye rolling. One group will gang up on another. Someone will be too busy to be there. Almost everyone will walk away feeling like they weren’t heard, especially those who didn’t speak up. And then, like gluttons, we’ll do it all over again the following year (or week! or day!).

  • Todd Bartlett

    Somebody will show up after the stated time for dinner. Also, some will be present to the reason we are together and some will be distracted.

  • Joan Baldwin

    Women will cluster post-meal (or meeting) to parse what went on while clearing the table and cleaning up. Men will leave deep in conversation about weighty matters (or sports).

  • Elsa

    You’ll put more on the plate than you can handle, and then be sick to your stomach.