Small Business Tips

How to Run Better Staff Meetings

Manasa Reddigari

Does the very idea of holding a meeting elicit groans from your staff members? They might change their tune when you change your meeting strategy.

Continue reading to learn how to run a more positive and productive staff meeting.

Why do you need staff meetings?

Staff meetings bring a few people, a department or many departments together in one place. They enable meeting participants to share progress, voice concerns and resolve conflicts. Beyond this, they're vital to the success of a business because:

  • They put everyone on the same page. A meeting can connect people working on different tasks and in different locations. This way, everyone knows the primary project or goal the business is working toward.
  • They spur innovation. Two heads are better than one. A staff meeting leads to more diverse perspectives than one person can muster. This can result in game-changing business ideas.
  • They lead to better decisions. It's hard to sanity-test your own ideas. Meetings help you collect impartial feedback from others on business plans. This way, you can question and refine plans before you roll them out.
  • They clear up misunderstandings. It's easy to cause a misunderstanding and trigger a conflict through an email or chat message. Honest, open dialogue through a meeting can help you build consensus.

What does a great staff meeting look like?

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The benefits above apply to well-run staff meetings. So what exactly distinguishes an effective staff meeting from a chaotic, conflict-riddled one? Good meetings share the following attributes:

  • Defined start and end times. Meeting attendees can depend on the host to start and end the meeting as scheduled.
  • Clear objectives. The meeting has a defined purpose and agenda items.
  • An appointed host. He or she schedules, runs, mediates and sets the tone of the meeting.
  • A high rate of attendance. Only people who have something of value to add to the discussion are on the invite list. But most or all those on the list do attend the meeting.
  • Active participation. All or most attendees engage in the meeting dialogue.
  • A positive, open atmosphere. Attendees feel comfortable enough to speak up without fear of judgment.
  • A plan of action. Attendees know who will handle and how to take action on the items drawn up at the meeting.

How to run better staff meetings

Use the tips below to make your next staff meeting more productive.

  • Hold meetings on an as-needed basis. Plato once said, "Wise men speak because they have something to say." The wise meeting host only schedules a meeting when a matter warrants discussion.
  • Schedule it. Putting a meeting on a calendar is the best way to avoid no-shows and achieve a high attendance rate. Be mindful of the time constraints of your staff when setting a meeting time.
  • Restrict the invite list to a "need to know" basis. Keep only those affected by or who must contribute to the issues on hand at the meeting. This will ensure a high rate of active participation.
  • Prepare an agenda in advance. You need to have a clear idea of the agenda items you want to address at a meeting to keep it on track. Think of these items as a to-do list of all the things you hope to get done at a meeting.
  • Start and end on time. Late meetings leave less time to address agenda items. And longer meetings don't always make for more productive meetings. So stay on schedule to get more done and to signal to staff members that you respect their time.
  • Foster a positive atmosphere. The host should set a tone that conveys that everyone's feedback is welcome and wanted.
  • Assign action items. Either the host or an attendee should take down action items during the meeting. He should then assign them out to relevant staff members. This puts the ideas generated from a staff meeting into action.

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