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7 Tips to Make Your Staff Meetings More Effective

dilbert-meetingRegular employee staff meetings are an important part of effective employee communication. We advise clients all the time to communicate with employees more regularly. Normally, the response we get is that “I talk to my employees every day – I’m already communicating!”

While you may be talking to employees every day, we find that most managers are focused on very task-specific topics or problems when they talk to employees. We want to encourage you to make a resolution to have regular staff meetings with employees to improve employee communication.

Getting in the habit of conducting regular staff meetings will help achieve many purposes including:

  • To reinforce the company’s vision, values and mission
  • To inform and update employees
  • To share successes, challenges and updates
  • To brainstorm ideas and to gather employee feedback
  • To gather all employees together who otherwise would not have an opportunity to meet
  • To share important information or news with staff before it goes public
  • To provide training to employees
  • To ensure a message is conveyed consistently to all employees at the same time.

A positive employee staff meeting can boost morale, help lower staff stress and frustration, and encourage new and innovative ideas. Though it may be difficult at first to get into the habit of conducting regular staff meetings, ensuring that they occur regularly and on a consistent basis will lead to better-informed and more productive employees.

Here are 7 tips to assist you in conducting effective staff meetings for your small business:

1. Determine the frequency of staff meetings

  • Factors which can influence the frequency of meetings include:
    • Number of employees
    • Location of employees
    • Workload
    • Time involvement
  • Our recommendation is to hold all-employee staff meetings at least once every 6 months, or more frequently, if possible.

2. Determine who should attend each meeting

  • Different staff meetings can serve different purposes. Not all employees need to attend all meetings.
  • A sample meeting schedule could look as follows:
    • Every 6 months – Company-wide staff meeting – all employees
    • Every 1 month – Department staff meetings – all employees in the department
    • Every 1 month – Management team meetings – managers only
    • Every 2 weeks – Project team meetings – project team members only
    • Daily – Employee huddle – all employees meet for 5 minutes to share successes and priorities for the day
  • Make sure that the participants in attendance really should be there and that it will be a productive use of their time.

3. Select meeting topics

  • Select topics that impact as many employees as possible, or which would be of interest to the widest cross-section of employees.
  • Some recommended topics to incorporate into your staff meetings include:
    • Sharing company goal updates – If goals or targets for the company have been set, update employees on their status. This will let employees know if the company is on-track or off-track, and will give employees an indication of what the priorities are for the company in the near-term.
    • Sharing noteworthy news – Use the meeting to highlight good news and major developments, such as a new client, new project or new proposal that you are working on.
    • Giving praise and recognition – Share successes achieved. Praise outstanding employees, project teams and achievements, or share positive feedback provided by clients. Recognizing a job well done is a boost to morale.
    • Inviting employee updates – Include time for employees to update each other about their current projects, priorities, successes and work challenges. It is an opportunity for employees to share best practices with one another. Employees will feel more positive when their ideas are sought and their opinions are valued.

4. Prepare agenda ahead of time

  • Prepare an agenda for your staff meeting in advance.
  • Include in the agenda:
    • Purpose of the meeting
    • Expected duration of the meeting
    • How much time will be allocated to each agenda topic
    • Decisions that will need to be made by the end of the meeting
  • Share the agenda with your staff so that they can prepare appropriately for the meeting.
  • An agenda will ensure that you and your staff stay focused during the meeting and make the best use of the time allotted.

5. Schedule the meeting

  • If you plan to have regular, on-going meetings, schedule them in advance. A possible option is to pick the same time, each time, for the meeting. For example, the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m.
  • If you are holding a one-off meeting, provide as much advanced notice to employees as possible so that they can make any arrangements that are necessary.

6. Conduct the meeting

  • Welcome employees to the meeting.
  • Share the agenda and the time you are allotting for the meeting.
  • Ensure you stick with the agenda as close as possible.
  • If there is an employee participation component, be sure to be supportive and encouraging.
  • Have someone take minutes or notes of the meeting, and of any decisions made so that they can be followed-up on.
  • Leave enough time for questions and answers at the end of the meeting.

7. Seek feedback on improving staff meetings

  • Ask employees what can be done to improve the staff meetings.
  • It is easy for meetings to get stale – your employees will have feedback on how to make the meetings more engaging.

Conducting an effective staff meeting is a developed skill. Here are 5 common staff meeting mistakes to avoid:

1. Meetings with no useful purpose. Don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Ensure the meeting is relevant to the participants and serves a productive purpose.

2. Disciplining staff in public. A staff meeting is not the place to discipline or criticize an employee or department. Handle disciplinary discussions in private with only the person or department affected in attendance. Criticizing or punishing an employee or department in front of other staff causes unnecessary embarrassment and discomfort and will lower staff morale.

3. Repetitive meetings. While a standing, regular agenda may be helpful, each staff meeting does not need to be the same as the next. Change the agenda to suit the latest developments. Vary the topics. Change the meeting facilitator. Incorporate different speakers. Variety in your meetings will generate greater interest and make them worthwhile to attend.

4. Losing track of time. Make sure to respect your employees’ time by starting and ending on time. Have someone keep track of time or to bring the meeting back on track if the discussion gets off-topic.

5. Avoiding bad news. Staff meetings should be used to convey bad news as well as good. If there are major challenges the company is facing, be sure to let your employees know. Use the staff meeting as an opportunity to share the news, to dispel any rumours, and to get staff feedback on how to turn the situation around.

For human resources solutions on how to conduct an effective staff meeting for your small business, please contact Vancouver-based Clear HR Consulting, or check out the Employee Communication module of our HR How-To Series for Small Business.

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