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Enhancing Meeting Productivity

If “It feels like we do nothing but meet to meet!” or “Nothing ever gets done at our meetings” are common statements made at your organization regarding the productivity and effectiveness of your staff meetings, this article is for you.  In this article I present you with two strategies to increase engagement and participation in staff meetings, and ultimately the productivity of the event itself.  As an additional bonus, the effective planning and execution of these strategies will result in stronger leadership in your workforce.

Strategy One – Establish a clear purpose of the staff meeting through the implementation of best practice sharing.  Best practice sharing creates a safe and trusting environment in which members of the staff are expected to come prepared to the meeting with a situation that was successful and a situation that failed or presented challenges to their success since the prior meeting.  The meeting facilitator, the supervisor or manager of the staff, is not to get involved in the discussion outside of facilitating the sharing of information and ideas.  One member of the staff presents a success and details the following information: (1) The situation; (2) The actions they took; and (3) the result.  Discussion is encouraged by the facilitator to discover if others have also experienced similar situations, and shared learning takes place as well as the creation of a best practice by the team.  The success conversations are enjoyable and easy to produce, but are not as effective as the failure conversation.  The facilitator requires one of the staff members to present an event that has taken place in which there was a failure, or significant challenge in which the outcome was less than desirable.  Again, the member of the staff presents a challenge or failure to the group and includes the following information: (1) The situation; (2) The actions they took to attempt to resolve the matter; (3) the outcome experienced; and (4) asks the rest of the team if they have experienced a similar situation or problem and how they resolved it.

This second exchange between the team will be extremely revealing of their understanding and resolution of the challenge or problem that they faced.  Together, the team will share similar experiences and more times than not they will arrive at new or better solutions to the common problem.  Facilitation by the supervisor or manager allows for adjustments or guidance on the most appropriate or effective way to address the challenge.  In many situations, the team will develop a better solution to the problem and all the facilitator needs to do is encourage participation and empower the staff to solve the problem.

Strategy Two – Start, Stop, and Continue is an excellent tool to engage the staff and solicit feedback on the work they perform daily.  In principle, it is very easy to understand, however the effects of this process can be invaluable to the future success of the team and the organization.  Extremely applicable in organizations that promotes change and process excellence, it is key to understand what changes are needed, what changes have failed, and what changes have been successful.  The facilitator of the staff meeting simply presents the inquiry to the team and allows for discussion, engagement, and feedback.  The facilitator will ask “What are some processes or practices we need to start doing to achieve our established goals more effectively?”  When the conversation closes, the facilitator will ask “What are some processes or practices we should stop doing because they are ineffective, inefficient, or impractical to achieve our goals?”  Finally, the last aspect of the meeting is to confirm current practices are achieving the desired results by asking “Does everyone agree that we should continue doing X?”

Note that the engagement and success of this strategy remains in the encouragement and empowerment of the employees to not only share what they wish to start or stop, but to justify and present their perspective of why.  Key in this strategy is the facilitator’s ability to remain relatively silent, and to avoid immediately telling the staff no, or knee jerking to solve the problems for them.

If seeking to implement these strategies, I recommend alternating between the two every other staff meeting.  There is obviously a great deal more to successfully executing either of these strategies.  I encourage you to explore these strategies to achieve more effective, engaging, and productive staff meetings.

Contact us today for guidance on executing these strategies effectively.