Super Staff Meetings

Newsletter 60

The staff meeting seemed to drag on endlessly. It had started much later than the posted start time and had long since passed the agreed upon stop time. What dialog there was seemed not to include or be relevant to most the participants. Some people were trying to be productive by secretly sending e-mail messages on their phones under the table. Sarah felt like she was trapped in the painting ‘The Scream’ as she thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to conduct staff meetings.’

Below is a structure for conducting super staff meetings that are focused and productive. Staff meetings are defined as a regularly occurring meeting for strategy implementation/operational execution.

  • Start and end the meeting on time so participants can schedule around it
  • 3 different meeting participants fill 3 rotating roles in each meeting (see below). This:
    • keeps the meeting from becoming a static representation of the team leader’s style
    • gives the team leader a chance to participate in discussions without the constant burden of these 3 roles
    • gives the participants an opportunity to improve their facilitation, meeting, and assertiveness skills
  • The 3 rotating roles are:
    • Facilitator:
      • runs the meeting and keeps it productive and constructive
      • opens the meeting by accepting any potential new agenda items and estimated times
      • achieves consensus on which potential agenda items to include/exclude before the meeting begins
    • Timekeeper: keeps track of discussion time for discussion items; the original estimated time may be extended if the team desires it
    • Scribe: keeps very brief notes documenting decisions, actions, items held over, etc. for distribution to all participants, present or absent, after the meeting
  • Limit agenda items to those that involve all participants; smaller group discussions can be held after the staff meeting if they are needed
  • Divide agenda items into 2 categories:
    • Information Sharing: 5 minutes or less
    • Discussion: more than 5 minutes
  • Designate an administrative person outside the group as “Keeper of the Agenda” who:
    • accepts potential agenda items from participants by a specified deadline before the meeting
    • distributes the list to all participants before the meeting
    • keeps a rolling list of which participants will fill the 3 designated roles in the meeting
  • Have participants estimate the time required for discussion items when they submit them
  • Agenda items requiring discussion time not available in the staff meeting can be:
    • held until the next staff meeting
    • assigned to a specific meeting for that issue
    • held until the next strategic planning meeting (if time allows)
  • As the penultimate agenda item, the facilitator states a brief recap of all important decisions and actions by the group
  • Finally, the facilitator conducts a brief meeting evaluation and solicits any suggestions for improving the next meeting
  • Note: If the team repeatedly lacks time to discuss important issues, then lengthen the staff meeting, but continue to start and end on time
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