I admit it – I think most staff meetings are a total waste of time.
Think about it: they generally start five to 10 minutes late, while people trail into the room (or dial in to the conference call line), then there’s another five to seven minutes of “How was your weekend?” and chitchat.
Finally, when the meeting is called to order, it’s generally not much more than a report out of current projects and activities, with the unspoken assumption that the person who reports on the most “stuff” is the most valuable player on the team.
Think about how much money is wasted every day on unproductive meetings.
One hour, times six people, times their hourly rate plus benefits…that’s a lot of waste.
Hey, I was guilty of running a few of those meetings myself, back in the day. And I’m sure that my staff would get every bit as frustrated with me.
Nowadays, my staff meetings are much shorter and much more effective.
Granted, there is little benefit in holding a staff meeting when one is a sole proprietor. Instead, that block of time that would normally be spent on updating myself on my projects is instead devoted to information gathering, business development, strategic planning and creative thinking/brainstorming.
So what is the take-away for someone managing a team?
First, I’d recommend that the manager think about why these meetings are necessary. If they are simply information sharing, there may be a different way to accomplish that – a shared workspace on the company intranet, a weekly team email, or even a low-tech oldie but goodie — a bulletin board.
Next, I’d encourage managers to regain control of the meeting, and establish a practice of having – and following – an agenda for every meeting, distributed in advance, with timeframes noted.
Finally, I’d suggest that managers restructure the meetings to focus on problem solving and brainstorming, tapping the creative energy and resources of the entire team. Start small; focus on something tangible like an editorial calendar and work up to ideas to re-invigorate tired employee programs and contests.
Before you know it, you’ll be using these team meetings to craft your crisis communications plan and outline your team strategy for the coming year.
P.S. – My friend and fellow PR practicioner Robert Udowitz spotted this great Business Week article on ineffective presentations. In the spirit of improving employee meetings, I’m happy to share this link for “How to Give a Lousy Presentation”. Happy reading!