Ground Rules for the New Generation

"no texting." Doesn't that sum up everything when it's on the list of Ground Rules for a nonprofit meeting?

This large sign was photographed at a multi-racial youth organization by a staffperson who wishes her organization to be anonymous. So she will get a box of avocados delivered to her (this was a contest, remember?!) but we won't publish her name or organization.

Special thanks to everyone who sent in photos, especially runner up Robert Marsh of the Fordland Clinic in Fordland, Missouri!

Comments (13)

  • I don't understand how these rules are unique to the "new generation." But they are great rules for pretty much any group of people at any meeting. I think I might create a similar list... ;-)

    Jan 08, 2010
  • I don't know . . . Texting can be a valuable marketing tool.

    Jan 08, 2010
  • Not during a staff meeting!

    Jan 08, 2010
  • Guess what? It all depends on the circumstances.

    There could be times when a tweet question to someone's network brings a necessary outside perspective to a meeting. e.g. "What would you think if we did x w/ our clients next month?"

    And of course there are times when it's totally inappropriate. (Most of the time, in my view.)

    Regardless of the rules, I think everyone in the room should agree to the rules beforehand, otherwise they won't work. Sadly, texting can happen even in the highest toned meetings. Only general agreement / peer pressure will change that.

    Jan 09, 2010
  • Anonymous

    I'm 23. My 35-year-old brother seems to think that people my age are obsessed with texting at work, and that it's a real no-no. One new hire at his employer was recently fired for such unprofessional behavior.

    But, according to my brother, browsing Facebook on his Blackberry during meetings is fine. They're pointless anyway, he says, so you might as well.

    I don't get it. I would not think of using a cellphone during a meeting, where it could actually distract someone else. This, to me, is a clear contradiction. Texting at your desk would have to be the lesser offense.

    Jan 11, 2010
  • this is obviously about texting during a meeting! which I do think is a "no no" to use an old expression

    Jan 11, 2010
  • Anonymous

    These ground rules are basic to human courtesy, not just at work but in life. What has changed is that we feel the need to be connected to as much as possible, all the time.

    "Multi-tasking" doesn't really happen; you can only work on one thing at a time, but you can squish a lot of tasks into a small amount of time. But then you have to ask yourself how well you're doing each of the tasks.

    Sometimes, you just need to be a person, in a room with others, and your minds are the only things connected, to only one purpose, and that's the agenda at hand. If it's boring, then that's the fault of everyone in the room, for enduring instead of leading.
    There will always be an idea that comes in at the last minute, but you know what? If you missed it during the meeting, you can text everyone about it later!!

    We're all connected well enough to make a last-minute idea come into fruition as something useful.
    It's time to take back the time for reflection, for meaningful consideration. For depth of thought. For civility. Think you don't have the time? Think again. Away from your cell phone and computer screen.

    Feb 05, 2010
  • Anonymous

    Sound comments on basic human courtesy. Good for you

    May 18, 2011
  • Anonymous

    My supervisor is way into multi-tasking. Usually when I go in to meet with her she says "I hope you don't mind if I multitask while we meet." This usually means emails and texts, even the occasional call. She's my boss, so it is hard to reply "Yes, actually I do mind. I'd like to have uninterrupted time with you to go over the list of priorities I assume you expect me to be working on for the success of this organization and its mission." Instead I comply and meet while she multitasks, and then patiently answer her questions that come later as she missed half of what we discussed. It is demeaning to have my time wasted later as she did not pay attention the first time. Meetings take enough time, let alone doing them over.

    The sad part is a) I don't ask her important things sometimes because she will be multitasking and not listening which leads me to b) go over her head for an answer because her boss is a great listener! Which leads to c) her boss asking her why she is not supervising her people better.

    The lesson is to listen undivided the first time! It's so simple and so rewarding.

    Feb 24, 2011
  • Anonymous

    I feel for you and your situation and agree with some of the other's comments here that multi-tasking should not be an excuse for an inability to pay attention, or to entertain yourself if you're bored. Employees need to focus on the work at hand, and not constantly be distracted by menial tasks, like email and texts. Emails and texts should never be treated as emergencies. If it was an emergency, there should be a call or an in person visit. To me, that does not mean an employee shouldn't be able to check their phone and text a friend at work, but good time management means being able to fully focus. I think all this concern with multitasking means we are losing our ability to focus and problem solve deeper issues.

    May 20, 2011
  • Anonymous

    I'm interested in what other consultants think about clients texting during meetings?? really bothers me but I feel that I'm there to suppor my clients and want to be flexible, so I'm conflicted over how to handle it.

    I recently had a session go over almost 15 minutes despite my time management because (like someone else mentioned), the client was asking questions at the end that I had already gone over in detail when she was on her iphone. I checked in with her several times asking if she wanted to take a break to address what was taking her attention, but she insisted she was listening/focused on both.

    I have never charged for going slightly over time in the past under circumstances where a client needed to take a call from their kid/family or briefly address a pressing issue...but now that the "norm" seems to be a constant checking of...something.

    I'm thinking of including something in my policies on non-urgent calls/text/email distractions in meetings...but I'm still considering exactly what to say. Something along the lines of "I manage our sessions to allow for enough time & attention to meet your needs and answer your questions. Please be aware that if you are texting/emailing/taking phone calls during our session and require additional time as a result, you will be billed accordingly"

    Do other consultants experience this/see it as problematic? Have others addressed it in their policies or considered it?


    Feb 25, 2011
  • Anonymous

    How about scheduling 3 min "check your ....." breaks scattered through the day.

    And I do believe that to get "our money's worth" from a meeting we have to show up fully- meaning phone/facebook etc. off.

    Mar 10, 2011

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