Meeting and administration: the sacred union

At the end of the 19th century, meeting bulimia accompanied the development of bureaucratic activities in state services

Meeting and administration: the sacred union

At the end of the 19th century, meeting bulimia accompanied the development of bureaucratic activities in state services. It is an integral part of the daily work of civil servants. “This morning we had a meeting. There was a round of discussion. Everyone was asked if they had anything to say. Three quarters said nothing. It's always the same people who speak. I asked myself what I was doing there,” says an employee of the Ministry of National Education.

Christophe Mirmand, prefect of Bouches-du-Rhône and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, does not know how he could do without a meeting. “It’s my usual mode of operation. An average workday is six or seven meetings lasting 45 minutes. The important thing is to ensure that they are effective. Days without meetings are very rare. It’s because they were canceled. Which allows me to free up a little time to read my emails and… (discreet smile) to possibly resume other meetings. »

Meetings and administration, or the story of infinite love. So much so that, at the top of our State, between 1,000 and 1,400 RIMs are organized each year. What’s hidden behind this sweet acronym? “Interministerial meetings” which should ensure government coordination. Don’t talk to this former director of the Overseas Ministry… “It’s a nightmare. A meeting of twenty-five where three-quarters of the guys have nothing to say. They are there to report to their ministry. » Christophe Mirmand, prefect of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, explains: "In principle, each ministry is represented by one person, but in practice, each of them ends up having small delegations. When the session chair is not sufficiently directive, it is not easy to have concise and efficient meetings. »

RIM is often compared to a play, indicating a high level of formalization of interactions, with a largely predictable outcome. All recorded in the blues, a blue document which reports on the Prime Minister's decision made following an interministerial meeting. “It is indeed codified, but there are circumstances where we can have outbursts, free-for-alls,” adds the former secretary general of the Ministry of the Interior under Christophe Castaner. During the pandemic, opposition was more subdued. On the other hand, when we talk about categorical reform or union negotiation, for which we need budgetary coverage, the oppositions are more frontal with the Ministry of the Budget or the Civil Service which are the guardians of the temple. » To keep up with the infernal pace of RIM, although it is unanimously decried, the Bercy services even had to create an application.

Blaise Agresti is a recognized mountain rescue expert; it also trains members of ministerial cabinets in crisis meetings. “We teach them how to build a decision-friendly ecosystem. This involves recognizing vulnerabilities, the pollutants that are our emotions, the stress of fear, cognitive biases, belief biases, media noise. We work on voice posture, welcome, the agenda. Then, we ask them to criticize themselves. As it is a training time, they play the game, and come out of this course with a better vision of themselves. »

But for this former boss of the High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon, it is not easy to create a collective power. “At both the state and corporate level, there is no culture of consensus. We are in a balance of power and chicayas of people. It is pathetic. If we put an hourly cost on the meeting charged to the salary, things would work differently. »

We no longer present Frédéric Thiriez, 68 years old, impeccable mustache and extensive CV. Lawyer, senior civil servant, president of the Professional Football League (LFP), opera singer, diver, mountaineer, author, he has held meetings and meetings throughout his career: “It horrifies me, it’s a waste of time and energy for everyone. » Of the countless talks in which he participated, this reunification skeptic has a few memories. The best: “The signing of peace in New Caledonia in 1988 marked me for life. We finished the meeting at 3 a.m. and drank hot champagne. The [nationalist] Jean-Marie Tjibaou cried like a madeleine. »

The worst: it was held in 2015, ahead of the League Cup final between PSG and Bastia. On this occasion, Thiriez's advisors warned him not to go onto the pitch before the start of the match, contrary to what was planned by the protocol, in order to avoid a reaction from the Corsican supporters, who had been up in arms against the LFP since the tragedy. by Furiani a few years earlier. “Like an idiot, I gave in. I should have acted like De Gaulle, who, outvoted by his Council of Ministers, said: Very well, gentlemen: 7 no, 1 yes. The yes side wins. » In a meeting, you can quickly lose face. As with alcohol, it should not be abused.