3 Reasons Your Staff Meetings Suck – And How To Fix Them

You’re a business owner who prides yourself on regularly scheduled staff meetings.

Look at you, prancing around, all managerial and full of efficiency.

How’s that working for you?

Do meetings start late because of stragglers?

Do staff members stare straight ahead with glazed-over cow eyes?

If you poked them with a sharp stick, would it even register?

I’ve paid my fair share of penance sitting in staff meetings and conference calls that went nowhere fast.  Want to know what hell is like?  It’s the big hand tipping over into Hour Two of a conversation that should have taken twenty minutes.  That calm demeanor on a staff member’s face?  It’s her “check-out” persona, where she can look right at someone like she’s paying attention as she fantasizes about picking up the vase in the middle of the table and shot-putting it against the wall.

Staff meetings don’t have to suck.  But here are three big reasons they usually do:

1. No set time limit for the meeting.

Average managers rarely announce an ending time. Staff members arrive later and later, thinking to themselves, “This meeting is going to go on for 90 minutes.  Why torture myself by waiting for it to get underway?”

Weekly staff meetings also don’t have to last 60 minutes.  If they do, you either have too many people in the room or one person with enough hot air to make up for everyone else.

Set a limit. Try 30 minutes. If you need more that, it could be a sign you’re relying too heavily on staff meetings to get information.  Maybe you need to remove your middle-aged spread from the bottom of the chair more often during the week and conduct more management by wandering around.

2. No agenda.

When there’s no agenda, there’s no control.  When there’s no control, there’s no buy-in.  Eventually, when there’s no buy-in, there ceases to be a company.

Kinda like the butterfly effect, no?

A fixed agenda, sent out 24 hours before the meeting, symbolizes your commitment to getting the important stuff done without wasting the staff’s productivity time.  It gives the introverts in your department time to mull over what will be covered so that they can contribute to their highest level.  And it keeps things on schedule (see #1).

3. Appropriating staff meeting time for brainstorming.

You can usually pinpoint the introverts in a staff meeting by the way they slink down in their chairs when someone says, “Let’s do some brainstorming to come up with a great idea for this next campaign/brand/magazine ad.”  The only thing worse is the phrase “quick brainstorming.”

Staff meetings are not for brainstorming, and half your staff (the introverts) are simply unable to contribute on the fly.  Brainstorming needs to be planned for, which flies in the face of what people believe it to be.  If you schedule a brainstorming meeting with the specific topic to be explored, it gives introverts the time they need to prepare themselves to contribute.  Given the right preparation, introverts can join alongside the extroverts in offering ideas.  The right setting allows everyone to play off each other, generating more mind-blowing opportunities than you could dream of.

Set a time limit.

Create an agenda.

Prepare for brainstorming in another setting.

Do you have any other pet peeves about staff meetings?  Share them below and let’s see if we can come up with some solutions that would help every business owner.

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One Response to “3 Reasons Your Staff Meetings Suck – And How To Fix Them”

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  1. Excellent points, Michele!

    My meetings start and end on time and the staff love them. So much so that people kept asking me what I did to make my meetings the kind of meetings everyone wanted to attend. It really is quite simple.

    First, I set a goal for each meeting. I finish the sentence, “This will be a successful meeting if…” Once I know what success looks like, I begin coming up with fun, interesting, and unusual ways to reach that goal. We play games, do role plays, team building activities, and a whole bunch of other crazy things, which both keeps the staff on their toes, and engages them in the process.

    Second, I try to have some kind of surprise, something unexpected, at each meeting. It may be a prize I give out randomly. It may be a guest speaker. It may be something new we have never done before. One time I served ice cream at 8:30am. Then we talked about how we get to make our own rules about customer service and can delight customers any time of day.

    If anyone is interested, I have a free eBook and Worksheet on the topic on my website.

    And, yes, an Agenda, Time Limits, and Brainstorming are discussed:-)

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