4 Keys to Having More Productive Staff Meetings

Luis Congdon

Let’s talk about what might be one of the most dreadful events in your calendar: staff meetings. We know they need to happen, and we also know there’s a good chance that you (or some of your colleagues) resent having to attend them. 

This conundrum is not uncommon - for senior leaders in an organization and for the members of their teams. On one hand, many people dread meetings and feel they’re a time suck, but on the other, they are key and parcel to creating cohesive teams. 

What if there was a way to unlock more potential from those meetings? What if those meetings became a place of celebration, productivity, and action? That could change the whole ‘dreaded business meetings’ attitude that often runs rampant among employees in an organization. 

Well, staff meetings can absolutely become productive events that people look forward to attending, and in this article, I’ll be sharing 4 specific ways that you can unlock the power of truly productive staff meetings.

1. Start Staff Meetings with Appreciation & Check-ins 

If you’ve read my most recent articles at Eden, you’ve likely seen my research-based articles on company culture and boosting company morale. In each of these articles, through research, I discovered that the best way to improve staff confidence, retain employees, and increase productivity at work was by improving the emotional well-being of staff. When leaders do things like; check-in with staff, praise, appreciate, and celebrate their team - the productivity is impacted for the positive. 

Building in time to appreciate and praise isn’t something that most staff or leaders do. And it makes sense, when we’re at work, we’re there to get a job done. The problem though is that even if we’re working, we’re still human and like anybody, we do best when we feel good about the work we’re doing. 

Companies with a culture of appreciation excel and are the most enjoyable to work with, and a positive work culture can drastically improve the output of your staff. Now let’s look at how you can build appreciation right into your staff meetings so you don’t have to remind yourself to celebrate your employees, but instead, use those meetings to get this done. 

Ways to show appreciation for your team in meetings: 

  • At the beginning of the meeting, ask everyone to share a quick update on how their day is going (go around in a circle)
  • After check-ins lead the meeting by acknowledging anyone you’ve seen do great work
  • Ask anyone if they’d like to celebrate or share any wins they’ve had or seen their peers achieve 
  • Verbally, at the start of the meeting celebrate and acknowledge your team for any benchmarks they’ve reached 
  • Send out via email a mention of any wins, insights, or positives to the members in the meeting (and if relevant to the staff who didn’t attend). 

These small actions of appreciation will enhance staff meetings and turn them into a place of nourishment and celebration. As someone who’s worked in companies who utilized these methods, I can tell you, it made me enjoy the meetings much more. 

2. Make Sure Meetings are Focused  

Ever been to a business meeting that just drags on and puts you to sleep? Or worse yet, have you wanted to leave a meeting that lacked focus, organization, and didn’t seem to have a clear ending? 

It’s those meetings that make us dread showing up to staff meetings. It’s those kinds of meetings and habits at work that Microsoft cites for low productivity. While we all know those types of staff gatherings all too well, it’s likely you’ve also experienced a productive staff meeting that generated more clarity of work goals, brought the team together, and created a laser-beam-like-affect to the company. 

It’s those meetings that we’re after. It’s those meetings that actually help companies grow and even help create giant billion-dollar brands like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon (and they definitely have staff meetings). 

The meetings that increase and excel the company forward all have some things in common - whether the meeting is at Google, Amazon, or your company, successful meetings all thrive on one thing. Focus and a clear agenda. 

Recommended rules for staff meetings:

  • Everyone shows up on time, otherwise, there’s some kind of punishment (it could be something as simple as you have to apologize to the meeting members and explain why you’re late). 
  • There’s a clear pre-written agenda for every meeting (someone I know uses Google docs and shares it with all attendees before the meeting and they can add their own notes before the meeting). 
  • Absolutely no phones allowed during the meetings, only emergencies are allowed, which there are ever really any emergencies.
  • There is a clear start and end time to all meetings which is honored to the letter. Honor time and the staff will honor showing up, being punctual, and showing up with all hands on board. 

These are just four simple rules. Nothing too difficult to enact, yet, these simple rules are potent when exercised. When everyone in the meeting is prepared and knows what is ahead - they’re more likely to show up with a sense of purpose and ideas to contribute. If time is honored in every way possible, people will conduct themselves professionally and take the meetings seriously. 

3. Don’t Have Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen 

When studying great business leaders, you learn that they follow proven rules of success. When it comes to building teams and running a company like clockwork, Jeff Bezos comes to mind. 

As one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing public companies, Jeff Bezos has some interesting insights that we could all do well to adopt for productive meetings. One of Jeff’s rules is that he will only hold meetings in which two pizzas will feed the entire group. Smaller, tighter groups get more done and are easier to manage. 

Much like the old adage, “too many cooks in the kitchen,” Jeff knows that a recipe for success is built on having a small group of people in meetings. If you run a large organization, have those important meetings with the leads and then have the leaders run meetings with their smaller group of staff. 

4. End Each Meeting with Action Plan 

When it comes to successful staff meetings, focus, and a clear agenda is the name of the game. Ending a meeting with some action items helps staff know the gathering was productive.  

Ways to end a staff meeting with an action plan:

  • Send out to staff members what action plan they’ll need to accomplish before the next meeting. 
  • Let your staff know what you’ll be doing now you have all met.  
  • Recap what happened in the meeting. 
  • Let your team know what action items are left for the next meeting.  
  • Check-in with the necessary staff after the meeting regarding any concerns or wins that weren’t mentioned in the meeting that pertain specifically to them. 

By ending a meeting with a short recap and action plan, you remind them about what was said and any agreements that you or they made. Also, you’ll be sharing with them in a clear way the success of the meeting so it’s not lost to anyone. 

Productive Staff Meetings Help Everyone Succeed

Staff meetings built purely on picking apart losses, telling everyone what to do, and talking without an agenda don’t incite productivity or engagement. If you’ve ever played team sports, you know that all good practices thrive on great leadership, a clear workout plan, celebration, hard work, and engagement. 

Just like teams of athletes meet to workout and prepare for game-day, your staff meets to make everyone better and help the company succeed. When you follow proven principles like having a planned agenda, celebrating team members, and having a clear action plan - staff meetings become a place for enhancement. 

Looking for a way to manage your office more efficiently? Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your workplace.

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