Making Your Staff Meeting Worth It

Today I did something that I do every Monday: I attended my team staff meeting. It's a standing meeting for one hour per week where our vice president provides a few corporate updates and then each participant provides an update. As I sat in today's meeting, it dawned on me that no one offered their full attention. While my colleague next to me gave his report, I noticed that everyone was on their laptop, multi-tasking. Obviously, we weren't getting all that we could out of this meeting.

So how do you turn a halted or ho-hum approach to staff meetings into a high-functioning management tool? In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we're sharing tips from Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc., about how to create staff meetings that matter.

1. Connect Daily Work With Your Organization's Purpose. Aside from sharing information, staff meetings present an opportunity to connect day-to-day work with your organization's purpose. But if you ask your team about your organization's purpose, don't be surprised when you receive as many responses as there are people in the room. No matter what they do, employees tend to enjoy their jobs more when their organization's leaders discuss the collective importance of their work. Employees also tend to make wiser choices if they are frequently reminded about the organization's purpose, and the types of activities that support it.

An organization's purpose defines why the organization does what it does; its reason for being. You connect work to purpose by explaining how the employees' efforts contribute to the greater goal. For example, the head of housekeeping at a busy hotel might hold a meeting with the cleaning staff. In that meeting, the managers might recognize a team that received a perfect room score from all guests who took a survey, and then assess the meaning of this score. The purpose of the hotel is to provide people with a safe and comfortable place to spend the night. Having a clean, welcoming, and functioning room is one of the ways a cleaning staff achieves that goal for its organization.

2. Highlight Relevant Metrics. If you don't currently track statistics, you should start now. The statistics that you track will depend on your industry, and they should offer a clear line of vision to the larger goal. For instance, a museum that holds events designed to attract new members might track the number of events held, the contact information that was collected from those events, the number of new memberships sold and the percentage of new memberships that are attributed to attending the event. With close, regular attention directed to the right metrics, your team is more likely to make practical decisions as to where it should focus its efforts.

3. Follow a Formula and Rotate Responsibility. Successful staff meetings usually follow a pattern of agenda, such as looking at weekly metrics, sharing information from the top, highlighting success, partaking in team-building activity and so forth. By creating and sticking with a formula, managers can help their employees know what to expect. Once employees become familiar with the pattern of the meeting, many can run the meeting themselves because they've learned by watching. Managers then have a natural opportunity to rotate the responsibility of the meeting to different people.

4. Celebrate Successes. In many organizations, there is a major appreciation shortage. Staff meetings provide managers and employees with regular intervals to practice gratitude. A steady drip of sincere gratitude can drive engagement. Real praise is specific and ties action to outcome. Whether it's being able to attend a conference, looking good in front of others, or some other result, people appreciate praise more when they understand how their actions delivered results. A praise segment in your staff meetings ensures you routinely take the time to recognize these efforts.

5. Focus on Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement. Staff meetings that include an opportunity to share lessons learned help drive continuous improvement. At first, people may be reluctant to share shortcomings. However, if you follow step four, you should begin to develop better communication and a sense of trust with your team. Modeling the process is a good place to start.

6. Develop a Schedule and Stick with It. Almost anyone can follow the first five steps some of the time, but those who get the most out of staff meetings follow them consistently. These organizations publish a meeting schedule, and they stick with it. They may shorten a meeting from time to time and occasionally reschedule, but the chance to gather a team together isn't perceived as low priority.

Follow these key steps to make your staff meetings useful and impactful to the business.

Source: Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their employees for success. Zabriskie is also the author of several publications, including The Communication Jungle: Understanding Yourself and Others, Customer Service Excellence: How to Deliver Value to Today's Busy Customer , Taming the Time Monster: How to Stop Procrastinating, Start Planning, and Get More Done and Negotiation Power Skills: How to Get What You Want Without Being a Jerk.

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