Staff meetings may be a dreaded corporate norm, but these gatherings have the potential to improve your company’s productivity
“Not another staff meeting…” You can still hear the grumbling and moaning whenever your past employers called a staff meeting and you are no stranger to colleagues complaining that these meetings are a waste of time. Whatever the situation, one truth holds: the person in charge did not know how to run an effective staff meeting.
In this blog, you’ll learn this formula for holding effective staff meetings.
What does a successful team meeting look like
Now, you’re the chief executive officer of a business. You’re the one who decides when to have a staff meeting. But based on your past experience, you have decided to avoid staff meetings like the plague.
But by avoiding these meetings you are actually doing more harm to the business than good. Smart business leaders realize that staff meetings can, among other things, boost morale, and help them understand how to motivate frontline employees, making them more committed to their work because they understand the company’s objectives. With this outlook, staff meetings can actually improve the working relationship between various departments and employees, and generate ideas that can transform the direction of the company.
In short, staff meetings should be viewed as a time investment that could reap tremendous dividends rather than a time expenditure. These five tips will maximize the chances that your company’s staff meetings will pay off in improved employee productivity.
How to improve team meetings
1. Don’t make the meetings about you.
Companies that are regularly top-down in their decision-making with minimal input from employees are not maximizing the odds that they will flourish. The same principle applies to staff meetings. As a leader in your company, you should prepare an agenda that should be distributed at least one day before the meeting so employees can think about how they can make a contribution to the discussion. You should also plan an agenda that includes announcements and presentations by at least a few employees, not just you. Remember, staff meetings are about the STAFF, not you.
2. Recognize outstanding contributions.
Boosting morale is one of the best objectives that can be achieved by an effective staff meeting. You can, and should, tell your staff about an employee’s important achievements. Yes, you can do the same thing via printed announcements posted on bulletin boards and e-mails, but look at this from the employee’s perspective – there’s just something special about being recognized while your peers are sitting next to you. Regular surprise announcements at a staff meeting can make employees more eager to attend the next one.
3. Let departments explain their work.
A recent obituary about football coach Buddy Ryan detailed how Ryan segregated his defensive players from his team’s offensive players. He insisted that creating a team within a team that was angry at teammates improved his defense’s play…He also tried to punch Chicago coach Mike Ditka and punched Houston’s offensive coordinator. This strategy does NOT work in offices. Your staff — the team — works better when it is better informed and happier about teammates’ work. Each department’s work can be explained at a staff meeting — by each department rather than you.
4. Solicit ideas and feedback.
The meeting agenda should include time for employees offering ideas. You should make it 100 percent clear that EVERY employee is encouraged to participate. The ideas could be feedback on an ongoing project or a suggestion about something the company should be doing but isn’t. You should also encourage employees to ask you questions about your presentation. You’re not — or shouldn’t be — a dictator. Good questions can sharpen your thinking about the company’s future. You should also set aside time for employees to ask questions about each presentation.
5. Set goals for each meeting.
The goals don’t have to be complicated or numerous. They could be as simple as getting people from different departments to talk about projects. Setting goals before the meeting is scheduled can help you focus on which employees should be invited to the meeting.
Meetings should rarely last more than one hour. That’s one reason why you need to figure out a specific agenda before informing employees about a meeting and deciding whom to invite. Short and more frequent meetings work better than long and less frequent meetings. It’s also important that the meetings be held during normal work hours rather than, for example, during a time when employees often eat lunch.
Staff meetings are important enough that you should keep a record of them. Thus, you should assign an employee to write a report on each meeting. This is especially beneficial for employees who weren’t at the meeting. The reports also help you and your colleagues follow up on the meeting. The follow-up could include setting up a meeting between two department heads or departments and definitely includes planning for the next meeting.
6. Ensure the purpose of the meeting is clearly defined.
You don’t need an elaborate agenda or long list of goals to define a meeting’s purpose. But you can and should include a clear event title, some details around what will be covered, and what next steps or goals you hope will result from it. Take notes and highlight action items to reinforce those goals – and the broader purpose – as things unfold.
7. Be selective on team members in attendance
With a few exceptions, such as a company-wide meeting, you don’t need every staff member involved. Think about attendees in terms of who will be:
Only those responsible and accountable for project specifics should be required to attend, and even among those, you may decide some parties can be optional. In doing so, you’ll keep the agenda tight and on track, and maximize participation from everyone who is present. Your notes and action items can help inform the rest.
8. Keep the scheduling consistent.
A great way to ensure that meetings are handled effectively and that team members are prepared is to hold them at the same time each week/month. Not only does consistent scheduling hold the time on everyone’s calendar, but knowing touchpoints happen weekly (or however often) will help establish momentum, rhythm, and a sense of accountability for everyone involved.
9. Make meetings as engaging as possible.
Even as you establish that rhythm, don’t be afraid to switch things up. Start one week with an icebreaker, the next with weekend recaps – any variety is better than always jumping straight into business talk. And keep people engaged by rotating who’s responsible for notes, action items, and timekeeping.
10. Watch the clock.
The best way to keep people from grumbling about your meetings? Respect their time. We’ve covered ways to keep the agenda tight, the topics efficient, and the engagement fresh. But if you’re running over the allotted time by five minutes every week, it’s all for naught.
Select a timekeeper. Have them note how many minutes you have left at appropriate intervals, and politely encourage everyone to stay on track, pushing the agenda along. When you remind them you’re doing so “in the interest of everyone’s time,” you won’t get much pushback.
You might have a negative opinion about the importance of staff meetings because you’ve had bad experiences as an employee. But now that you’re the employer, YOU have the chance to prove that staff meetings can be an effective way to improve employee productivity, morale, and commitment to your company.
Tired of the grumbling and moaning in the workplace? Ready to introduce change into your organization? Here’s how.