Staff meetings can be great. They can break down silos, build teamwork, motivate us when we feel overwhelmed by our work, reignite the passion for our mission and help staff members recommit to our organizations and our work.
That is when staff meetings are done well.
When they are poorly planned, managed and facilitated they can feel like a waste of time, a burden, and an unnecessary distraction from the important work we’re trying to accomplish.
Which way would we want our staff teams to feel about meetings? Which of these experiences would be more productive and most likely result in success and accomplishment?
But good staff meetings do not happen organically. Perhaps once the great design, planning and facilitation become standard practice and habitualized they feel organic, but lots of work has gone into the structure beforehand.
In this blog you’ll find some guidance to help ensure staff meetings are engaging, productive and time well-spent.
1. In “Workplaces that Work” we learn why and when meetings are important (the busier we are the more important it is to have even 15-minute meetings, despite wanting to put them off!), how to plan for a meeting, facilitate and evaluate our meetings. There are some notes on board meetings, but the bulk of this article is focused on staff meetings. Start here to get off on the right foot with staff meetings!
2. Setting ground rules is an important practice to ensure that staff members feel safe and valued in group meetings. They can help keep us focused and set the tone for participation. They can also help us understand how we deal with disagreement or conflict and not only how we make decisions, but what we do once decisions are made. “15 Ground Rules for Nonprofit Staff & Board Meetings” lays out simple but effective rules that can help make meetings, including those with important decision-making components, effective, respectful, fair and productive.
3. Sometimes we may be scheduling full staff meetings when all we really want to do is check-in with our teams. Is there a more efficient way of conducting check-ins without the full meeting? Can we be more direct and focused in our inquiry to maximize our time with our teams? In “Steal This: 5 Questions for Staff Meetings” we learn about a line of questioning that has proven to be effective and efficient. Let’s try them out with our teams!
4. Meetings that go on for hours without any signs of purpose or end can be draining; time, staff morale, energy – you name it. But there are some guidelines we can stick to that will help us frame, prepare, facilitate and follow up so that meetings are something our staff teams can look forward to, and not dread. In “5 Tips for More Productive Meetings” the author shares a great structure for us to get the most out of staff meetings.
5. In this Q&A-style post, Beth Kanter and Andrea Kihlstedt answer some common questions about real struggles that folks are having with meetings. Andrea addresses questions concerning common meeting problems, while Beth tackles the newest kind of meetings: walking meetings. In “Nonprofit Meeting Culture: Andrea and Beth Answer Your FAQs” these pros delve into some of the practices and challenges we face while planning, facilitating and following-up with our meetings. Like, how do we best conduct virtual meetings? Or, how can we practice walking meetings with folks on our staff team who may have mobility challenges? If you’ve got a meeting question, it may well be answered here!
BONUS: Should staff attend board meetings? How many of them? Which staff members should come? What are some of the best practices around these questions? In “Staff participation in board meetings” the authors offer some practical tips and advice on this topic.
Meetings shouldn’t be a waste of time or a drain on our staff morale. They should inform, invigorate, engage and recommit our staff to our mission. But they don’t work out that way when we don’t plan them well. Our meetings can be a place of idea generation, team building, and comradery – feeling and knowing we’re all part of a larger organization working to achieve real change in our communities.
Until next time,
This week’s blog was written by Tina de los Santos. Tina brings a diverse mix of nonprofit and business leadership to her role at PLC. Throughout her career, she has been passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that support and inspire people’s professional and personal growth. Tina is our chief knowledge sharer and enjoys digitally connecting with other leaders in Peel to help them find great resources and learning tools.