Staff meetings. One need only read a few Dilbert cartoons to realize staff meetings can be non productive and sometimes painful to attend. But, used with some forethought, they are an important way to keep everyone in sync and to allow the discussion of issues that require attention outside the demands of normal, everyday, work and the related interruptions involved in a work day (email, phone, etc.). The first key to a good staff meeting is a well prepared agenda. Input can be solicited from staff to allow ideas to flow up; always having a top down staff meeting approach is not conducive to a team atmosphere. Determining the timing and frequency of staff meetings is also important to allow everyone to build it into their work flow and to anticipate upcoming discussions. The challenge we have often found is encouraging discussion and idea generation. As hard as we have tried over the years to avoid a top down discussion, that is somewhat inherent in the workplace. For whatever reason over the years, only a few employees have demonstrated the ability to do more than listen, that is, to contribute their thoughts and ideas in productive ways. And, it is also important, as has been discussed in other posts, for the owners/managers to gauge employees’ interest in certain topics, such as company performance and big picture thinking. We certainly had to adjust and reduce the amount of client and case information over the years because employees did not seem to understand how to factor that information into their performance. A sad, but true, realization. Finally, as someone interested in organizational behavior, I will be curious to see how companies modify the formal staff meeting given enhanced communications in a modern workplace (think email) which often serve one of the functions of keeping everyone informed of details in the workplace, and, to see whether workplaces where productivity demands are such that little time remains for staff meetings.
I detest staff meetings. I perceive them as a total waste of my time, time when I could be doing “real work” or just about anything else. I know how to perform my job and I don’t need to participate in a meeting in order to learn what to do. These statements aside, I also know other people are not like me. Many people enjoy the group cohesion provided by staff meetings and other get togethers. Many people believe there are better ideas formulated by a group instead of individuals working alone. Recognizing I am the exception to most rules, I have mandated staff meetings within my company. In years past, when we had many more employees than we currently have, we held staff meetings every other week. These meetings had written agendas, mandatory attendance, and everyone had items for which they were primarily responsible. Now that we have been in business for a long time and have learned to “work smarter” with fewer employees, we have staff meetings on an as needed basis, usually concerning a particular case or other specific topic. I understand the need for everyone to be on the same wavelength, as well as to have “face time” with the boss, therefore, in my service oriented corporation, staff meetings are a way of life.
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