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Jump-start staff meetings

Inject energy into a dull routine

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

Do you treat staff meetings as a chore or as a chance to share ideas?

Many readers tell us these meetings have become dreaded obligations rather than lively, valuable sessions where participants exchange information and solve problems. If these gatherings become stale and predictable, then revamp them to make them worthwhile. Here’s how:

Pose challenges. Rather than go around the table and have each attendee give an update or report, begin by posing a question for everyone to answer. This makes each meeting different and enables employees to brainstorm.

For example, introduce the meeting by asking, “What do you think are the top three things stopping us from lowering turnover?” or “What’s the most frustrating aspect of your job, and what can be done about it?” Don’t proceed in order—pick people randomly to keep them on their toes.

Change seating. If everyone sits in the same place every week, they may fall into the same patterns or join certain cliques. Change your seat and have key staffers do the same so that doesn’t happen. Also, shake up the group dynamics by holding the meeting in a different place, such as outside on a pleasant day or in a part of the building that you normally don’t use.

Give awards. Don’t get trapped naming an “employee of the week.” This attempt at morale-building can turn into a hollow exercise. Instead, prepare a more specific award that takes employees by surprise, basing your selection on what you learned in the previous meeting.

You may want to recognize individuals for “most diligent follow-up,” “most prudent risk-taking” or “best time-manager.” Giving winners a gift certificate or small cash bonus can turn an otherwise dreary meeting into a fun and uplifting experience.

Invite guests. Employees may tire of seeing the same faces every week. Arrange for a guest speaker to give a short presentation on a relevant topic, or ask a senior executive to stop by to field workers’ questions.

Assign homework. End every staff meeting by asking your team to return the next week with a completed assignment. Examples include analyzing a new market ripe for expansion, proposing one or more practical money-saving ideas or anticipating challenges over the next few months and suggesting steps to avoid problems.

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