Oh No, Not Another Staff Meeting!?!

You’ve heard all the groans when announcing everyone needs to gather in the conference room. But well-planned staff meetings will make your business better.

Oh No, Not Another Staff Meeting!?!

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I sit right next to them. We don’t need to have a staff meeting.

I used to have staff meetings, but we stopped having them. Nobody had anything to talk about.

We have enough meetings. We certainly don’t need another.

For myriad reasons, many managers or small-business owners don’t hold regular staff meetings. Furthermore, most who do don’t get the most they could from them, and that’s too bad. Good staff meetings can focus a team, energize employees and engage them in ways that ad hoc interactions don’t.

So how do you turn a halted or ho-hum approach to staff meetings into a high-functioning management tool?


Step 1: Connect Daily Work With Your Organization’s Purpose

In addition to distributing information, staff meetings present an opportunity to connect your team’s daily work to your company’s purpose. If you think your people know how their work fits into the company’s overall goal, you would be wrong. In fact, if you ask your employees what your organization’s purpose is, don’t be surprised when you get as many answers as there are people in the room. (And you thought you had nothing to talk about in a staff meeting! A discussion about purpose is a good one to have.)

Purpose is why you do what you do. You connect the work to the purpose by explaining how what people do aligns with 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 talk about purpose.

The purpose of the hotel is to provide people 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. By regularly connecting such activities as cleaning toilets, making beds and folding towels to the guest experience, the manager highlights why each of those activities is important.

Hotels and your job of selling and servicing firearms are no different. No matter what they do, employees usually enjoy their jobs more when their leaders talk about the importance of their work. They also tend to make better choices if they receive frequent reminders about purpose and what types of activities support it.


Step 2: Highlight Relevant Metrics

Connecting work to purpose usually works best when a team focuses on both anecdotal and analytical information. If you don’t currently track statistics, start. What you track will depend on your industry. However, whatever you decide should have a clear line of sight to the larger goal. For example, a gunsmith might track on-time service records, positive or negative customer responses, or a rate of new customers or customer retention related to advertising or marketing efforts. With regular attention placed on the right metrics, the team is far more likely to make good choices as to where it should focus its efforts.


Step 3: Follow a Formula and Rotate Responsibility

Successful staff meetings usually follow a pattern, such as looking at weekly metrics, sharing information from the top, highlighting success, a team-building activity and so forth. By creating and sticking with a formula, managers help employees know what to expect. Once employees know the pattern of the meeting, many are capable of running it because they’ve learned by watching. Managers then have a natural opportunity to rotate the responsibility of the meeting to different people. By delegating, the manager frees up his or her time and provides employees with a chance to develop their skills.


Step 4: Celebrate Successes

In many organizations, there is a huge appreciation shortage. Staff meetings provide managers and employees with regular intervals to practice gratitude.

“Bob worked overtime cleaning the bathrooms at the special event on Saturday. Because of that, we got rave reviews by the customer.”

“Mary Ann’s efficient work at the register when we were jammed with work on Friday got everyone home to their families for dinner.”

A steady drip of sincere gratitude can drive engagement. Note the word “sincere.” Most people have an amazing capacity to identify a false compliment. Real praise is specific. Well-delivered praise also ties the action to the outcome. 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 efforts.


Step 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.

“I learned something this week that I want to share with you. I had a call with a customer that could have gone better. I’m going to tell you what happened, and then we’ll discuss some ideas about how I would handle something similar in the future.”

The more you practice this exercise, the greater the gains you should experience.


Step 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 hold them consistently. They publish a meeting schedule, and they stick with it. They may shorten a meeting from time to time or reschedule, but they don’t treat their chance to gather the team as a low priority.

Good staff meetings aren’t perfunctory activities that add little value. On the contrary, when used to their full capacity, they are a dynamic management tool. Now what are you going to do about yours? 

Kate Zabriskie is president of Business Training Works, a Maryland-based talent development firm. Reach her at www.businesstrainingworks.com.


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