The Human Resource: 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 edition of The Human Resource, I present to you 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, but the effects of this process can be invaluable to the future success of the team and the organization.

Extremely applicable in organizations that promote 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 remain 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.

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to editor@chaddsfordlive.com

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About Warren Cook

Warren S. Cook is a co-founder of SymbianceHR and leads all client-consulting engagements. He is a human capital strategy management subject matter expert with more than 20 years of experience as a strategic business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for all client-consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized complex human capital strategy solutions that meet the client's business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren combines his human capital, project management, and business management experience with a philosophy of solving business challenges through the strategic implementation of policies, processes, and procedures to deliver sustainable solutions that demonstrate ROI, mitigate and manage risk, and empower organizational success. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today” and holds a bachelor of science degree in human resource management, a master’s of business administration in project management, and a master’s of science degree in industrial and organizational psychology. He is also a SHRM Certified Professional.

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