Meetings can help you make key decisions, find answers to work challenges, and share important information with employees. However, meetings can become unproductive if they're poorly executed. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of staff meetings:
#1: Determine Frequency
The frequency of meetings should depend on company and department needs. In some cases, a regular team meeting (such as once per month) is a good idea to help keep the lines of communication open. In other cases, you may require more (or less) frequent meetings. For example, a one-time meeting may make sense for an announcement, whereas a critical project may require brief meetings each day to check on status and address any issues.
#2: Get Moving
To help increase physical activity and encourage creativity, some supervisors hold on-the-move meetings. These typically work better for smaller groups and/or for brainstorming sessions. Not all workplaces or meetings are conducive to these types of meetings and some employees may be uncomfortable with them. If you want to take your meetings outside, make sure the route is safe (with sidewalks in good condition) and accommodate workers of different abilities.
#3: Consider Time of Day/Week
Typically, employees are more engaged during the earlier parts of their shifts, so consider holding meetings then. Avoid meetings right before the end of the day or workweek, since employees are likely to be eager to get home. If it is necessary to have meetings during these times, keep them short and to the point.
#4: Consider Attendees
Identify who needs to be involved in the meeting and limit attendance accordingly. When too many people are involved, meetings are more likely to go off course. If certain employees need to be present for a portion of the meeting, consider covering that topic first and then allowing those employees to get back to work. Also, if you need to include employees who work from home or who are off-site, consider ways to ensure that they can participate, such as video- and tele-conferencing.
#5: Prepare an Agenda
Prepare an agenda for each meeting and solicit input from employees. Once finalized, provide it to attendees in advance and let them know their role in the meeting. For instance, if the purpose of the meeting is to discuss new software options, you could instruct employees to review each option and prepare notes.
#6: Consider Duration
Try to keep meetings as short as possible while ensuring effectiveness. Be mindful of back-to-back meetings and consider ending meetings five minutes early to give employees a break before their next meeting. Limit the agenda to issues that affect the entire group and if something comes up that only affects a small number of employees, schedule a separate meeting for that item.
#7: Stay on Track
Start the meeting on time, review the agenda, and reiterate objectives. Designate someone to ensure the group sticks to the allotted timeframe and can tactfully intervene when a single employee takes over the discussion, brings up an unrelated topic, or gets a bit longwinded.
#8: Take Notes
Keep detailed notes of the meeting, including the date, who attended, what was discussed, the results of the discussion, and any action items that need to be handled after the meeting and who is responsible for them.
#9: Follow up
After the meeting, review your notes and send an email to attendees and employees who were supposed to attend but were unable to do so. Summarize what occurred and any agreed upon action items. If other meetings need to take place, schedule them promptly.
The above tips can help ensure meetings serve their intended purpose and that the time spent was worthwhile.