Dear Management Doctor:
Yesterday in our management meeting, our Town Manager requested that the four of us determine the best way to have more Productive Staff Meetings. We have a very small staff of 12 full time and 3 part time; this includes everyone from the Town Manager to the Public Works Crew. Everyone is required to attend the meeting on a very irregular basis, with lunch provided by the Town prior to the staff meeting. We have the usual announcements, new policies, changes in this or that. Some staff members provide a brief overview of topics that they think other staff members might be interested in, etc. Some staff members don't say a word at all or say they have nothing to share.
You know the room; everyone looks bored, but they were really happy that they were served lunch before they had to attend this staff meeting. We have a personal topic for each meeting, where everyone has to share something about themselves, there is always a theme. Most often everyone does participate. This brings us closer as a team and everyone has fun, but it is not a productive staff meeting, more of a get to know you better lunch break.
Any suggestions on how to have a more Productive Staff Meeting?
Take a look under Meetings using the search engine on our website at zuckersystems.com. I have written four articles on this topic in the past so it is obviously a concern for many people. I won't repeat the prior articles here but will add or highlight a few ideas.
The Management Doctor
Our department of 15 people has solved this problem by having a weekly "10-Minute Staff Meeting." The agenda typically covers just 3 or 4 topics, such as recent action by our Commission or boards, mention of significant projects, customer service thoughts, acknowledgment of accomplishments, etc. It's also a time for the staff to bring up questions or concerns they may have. From time to time discussions will last longer than 10-15 minutes, but that's not typical.
Of course, topics that require in-depth discussion are typically handled separately and involve just the key participants. And items that need to be discussed individually are handled one-on-one.
I find that a quick, weekly gathering requires me to think regularly and precisely about what I need to communicate for my entire staff to be in the loop and well-informed.
The Mayor for whom I used to work would schedule meetings in a room with no chairs. "No chairs make for short meetings," she used to say. She'd never schedule a meeting without sending out an advanced agena mdash; and if one were expected to report on a topic, she sent a personal note (not e-mail) with her request. Sometimes there were longer meetings (with chairs), but always an agenda and pre-meeting preparation.
Eric Jay Toll
Bravo!!!! Keeping people in the loop is so vital, yet is often overlooked. Kudos to you.