Every manager out there has been tasked with running a staff meeting. Some managers treat them as afterthoughts and hold them out of obligation. Others treat them as sacred and essential team huddles, regardless of what’s happening. And for new managers, the thought of having everyone looking at you, or waiting to hear what you have to say, can be a bit scary.
But in reality, running an effective staff meeting is not complicated, nor should it be intimidating. Staff meetings are simply about effective communication, awareness, and the sharing of information, such that you and your employees are in synch. Still, we have a few pointers for you.
8 keys to running a crisp and effective staff meeting
1. Set a schedule
The first step in running a staff meeting is to schedule it.
Funny may it sound, but there is tremendous value in having a recurring, consistent meeting time, such that your team can expect and plan for it in advance.
When people know that 9 AM on Tuesday is when they meet with the boss, they will come better prepared with issues and topics of concern than if you schedule meetings at random. If you just drop them in randomly when you have time to catch up with your team, a lot of value will be lost because people will come unprepared. The most common timing is weekly. Find a schedule that works for you, your business, and your team, and stick to it.
2. Have a standing agenda
How many times have you gone to a meeting that did not have an agenda? A meeting without an agenda is just a conversation that will end when it’s time to be somewhere else.
For your staff meetings, set a standard agenda. Just like scheduling it on recurring basis, when your team knows what to expect and what topics will be covered, it helps make for a crisp, more effective discussion.
3. Start with news
Rather than jumping in with two feet and asking people what’s going on, kick your staff meeting off by sharing news, information, and noteworthy items.
Don’t assume everyone has seen the corporate communication email, or that your entire team heard that Bob announced his retirement.
Collect issues, topics, and items of interest from around the business since the prior meeting, and share them with your employees. Not surprisingly, your employees will tend to pay far more attention in a direct conversation with the boss than they will to broadcast emails and hallway conversations.
4. Pause for recognition
It’s not every day that someone completes a major project, earns a degree, gets promoted or does something that is worth a shout out.
Be sure to take a few moments, when warranted, to publicly recognize people. Not only does public praise make an employee’s peers aware of what he or she has achieved, but it’s a fantastic way to make an employee feel valued and appreciated for their hard work. Also, don’t be afraid to open the floor to let your team offer any additional recognition of their peers.
5. Address key topics
Following your announcements and any recognition, proceed by hitting on key topics that are pertinent to your work. For example, on my team, safety is a very important item.
Even if we only talk about it for 30 seconds, each week I take a moment to inquire about any safety issues or concerns that have emerged since the last meeting. My standard agenda is as follows: announcements, recognition, safety, budget, project updates, travel schedules, roundtable, action items.
Example staff meeting agenda (60 minutes):
- Announcements and news – 10 Minutes
- Recognition of staff – 5 Minutes
- Safety issues – 5 Minutes
- Budget status and planning – 5 Minutes
- Project updates – 15 Minutes
- Travel schedules – 5 Minutes
- Roundtable – 10 Minutes
- Action items – 5 Minutes
6. Open up for roundtable
At the end of your staff meeting, be sure to open the floor to your team to bring any issues or concerns to you. Doing so helps make other team members aware of what’s going, but may also bring about healthy conversation about challenges the team is facing or opportunities for improvement across the board.
Also, since everyone is busy, it gives your employees a set time each week to catch up with you directly. Never close a staff meeting without giving your team a chance to contribute.
7. Talk to the people, and listen
Whether you like it or not, the most important tool in your management toolbox is talking to your employees as people, and not as some inferior species.
No need to bark orders, no need to turn it into a serious, stuffy conversation. Staff meetings offer a great time to connect with your team, and gives you a chance to understand what’s going on and the challenges they might be dealing with. You can always take a specific issue into a private conversation. But the key is to make sure you run your staff meetings as two-way conversations throughout, and not one-way flow of information.
8. Be flexible and respect people’s time
If getting a staff meeting schedule is the most important thing, the second most important thing is to not waste people’s time. If most of the team is on vacation, cancel. If there is nothing really new to report, or the team could use the time to do other things as you approach a major deadline, keep it short. There is no need to soak up an hour of people’s time if you’re just trying to fill it with fluff. Make sure you adapt and keep it flexible to meet your needs, and the needs of the team.
Running a staff meeting is just about effective communication. Don’t be intimidated just because you’ve got the podium. Just talk to the team about what’s going on and any issues they may be having. Do these 8 simple things and you’ll be well on your way to being a great boss.
Want honesty? Try a live, anonymous discussion
When you need to know what questions and problems employees are really facing, give them the gift of anonymity. Poll Everywhere lets you turn a staff meeting into an anonymous discussion forum. You create the questions, and attendees respond online from the privacy of their phones or other web-enabled devices. Hear from the entire room in the time it would take one person to respond aloud. Contact sales to learn more.