Staff meetings are like dentist appointments. We know they’re good for us, but about five minutes before the meeting you can think of about a thousand different things you would rather be doing.
That said, don’t underestimate the importance of staff meetings and the very positive effect they can have on the organization. These effects include improved department communication, psychological team building, and improved group productivity. From a communication perspective, staff meetings enhance the communication from you to your staff, from your staff to you, and among your staff members. Regarding team psychology, meeting as a team helps make you feel like a team. Lastly, from a productivity perspective, the combination of increased communication and team cohesion helps create an environment that facilitates group collaboration, coordination, and innovation.
Tips to maximize your staff meeting are listed below:
Start your meetings on time regardless if some people are late, unless they are late for a known and preapproved business reason. This has three beneficial effects; first, it sends a message that people should arrive on time, second, it helps the meeting end on time, and third, it provides the maximum length of time to get things done.
Distribute a meeting agenda at least one day prior to the meeting. This will allow your staff to prepare for the meeting if needed.
Your meeting agenda should contain a schedule showing the amount of time to be spent on each topic. This has the dual advantage of keeping the meeting moving and allowing you to gracefully end discussion on topics because of time constraints.
Unless mission critical activities cannot be avoided, require staff member attendance. This has the dual benefit of showing meeting importance and increasing communication efficiency because all staff are in attendance.
Schedule your staff meetings for the same time and location each week. This consistency allows people to more easily attend and participate because it becomes part of the regular weekly work cadence.
If your meeting is in the afternoon, bring cookies or other appropriate snacks. Like Pavlov’s dogs, it will help your team look forward to staff meetings because they know they will be getting a treat.
Schedule the meeting at a time of day that least interferes with your teams work requirements and productivity. For additional information on this tip, please refer to my blog on “Time Chunks”.
Try to make the meeting a little fun by including a short informative and fun YouTube video on an agenda related topic. This has the dual advantage of being educational for the team and also provides a little entertainment. Like providing snacks, it will help make people look forward to the meetings.
Always end your meetings early or on time. If your staff meetings have a tendency to run late, it makes it hard for your team to plan the rest of their day.
Page 2 of 2 - At the end of each meeting do a quick recap of the decisions that were made and action items that were assigned. Note that all defined action items should be assigned to a specific individual and have a specific due date. This will help ensure that the assigned action is performed.
The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
Don’t underestimate the importance of staff meetings and the very positive effect they can have on an organization. These effects include improved department communication, psychological team building, and improved group productivity.
The steps listed in this column can help you make your staff meetings more productive, more interesting, and a little bit fun.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart and continue to grow.
Eric P. Bloom, based in Ashland, Mass., is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a company specializing in information technology leadership development and the governing organization for the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, keynote speaker, and author of the award-winning book “Manager Mechanics: Tips and Advice for First-Time Managers.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom, or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.