Your regularly scheduled staff meeting may not be an event that your staff anticipates. In fact, some employees might prefer having a root canal. At least with a root canal, pain medication is provided. Why are many staff meetings hated and what can you do about yours?
Have Clear Purpose and Scope for Your Staff Meeting
People complain that they remain uncertain about the purpose of their staff meeting, even when it has concluded. Many managers assume that staff value developing an understanding of WHAT other staff members are doing. Many managers assume that staff will support one another when someone needs assistance. You know what happens when you assume.
Since the purpose of the average staff meeting appears to be about sharing, emphasize WHY sharing is important. It’s not that we want bright and informed employees, so much as we want employees making more informed decisions. We seek decisions that support one another to help us reach our goals and objectives. We seek to change behavior when the meeting has concluded, to further enhance our efforts to excel. Be clear that you are seeking change, NOT simply information exchange.
If nothing has changed, then your staff meeting could be a waste of time. If something has changed, let’s ensure we understand WHAT has changed, and more importantly, WHY. Build consensus around the rationale supporting the change, not only the change action itself. If something needs to change, it may be optimal to have it change much sooner than when you schedule your regular staff meeting.
Develop Consensually Agreed Upon Output from Your Staff Meeting
Did you ever leave a staff meeting and ask “What did we agree on in there?” Worse yet, have you experienced more than one answer to that question? Perhaps opposing answers?
Do not assume that your staff has extracted the same learnings and takeaways. Do something to facilitate and confirm that we are all agreeing on the same change, a similar course of action. All too often people leave a staff meeting and begin acting in ways that contradict one another. WHY? Because we have done nothing to facilitate and ensure common understanding.
Build agreement at the end of your staff meeting that reflects new actions learned as a result of the staff meeting. Again, if the new actions are thin and far between, perhaps we need fewer or quicker staff meetings. That brings us to our final point . . .
Convert Your Staff Meeting into a Standing Meeting
The original idea of a meeting that repeats itself the same date and time weekly, monthly, or quarterly, made that type of meeting to be called a “standing meeting.” The term originally does not imply that it stands at the same time on the calendar, rather it implies that there is no need to sit down.
People should stand at most staff meetings, and get done faster. The depth of much information sharing requires that we all understand WHAT each other is doing. However, we probably don’t need to know HOW it’s going to be done. When someone goes ”deep into the weeds” they are probably talking about HOW, not WHAT they plan to do.
We need to know for example that you “are going to pay the bills” but we don’t need to know that you are writing cheques or sending electronic funds transfer. We rely on you to execute the best way to get it done. Keep in mind the difference between WHAT and HOW is relatively simple. WHAT you do (eg, “pay bills”) remains abstract while HOW you do it (“write cheques”) becomes concrete.
When you impose the standing (rather than sitting) rule for your staff meetings, more people will stop talking when they have covered WHAT they are doing. They will spare us the gory details and time wasted about HOW they are going to do it. For the rare circumstance when sharing the HOW is important, participants may freely ask (“How are you going to do that?”). But as long as participants remain standing, people will stay focused, and your staff meeting will provide the change you seek, only much faster than you currently realize.
Become Part of the Solution—Improve Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills
To help you access our in-house resources, (e.g., annotated agendas, break timers and templates used in our FAST Professional Facilitation Training) go to the Facilitation Training Store https://mgrush.com/shop/.
Furthermore, the FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual. Attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world. See MG Rush for a current schedule. FAST provides 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, or 3.2 CEUs).
Finally, don’t forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. Change or Die provides detailed workshop agendas. It also includes numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective.
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