I used to dread having our monthly staff meetings. They were boring. I had trouble keeping people engaged and they were a lot of work.  I never had enough time to make them very interesting, so they usually just ended up with announcements and a round table of updates.

So, I did what every clever manager does when they don’t want to do something – I delegated it.  I asked my assistant to help me organize them with a goal of making them more interesting and engaging.

We brainstormed and tried new things for the next few months and over time we came up with a formula that we have been using for several years now and it really works. We really do have the best staff meetings ever.  Here’s our 5 step formula to how we do it.

1)  Put together a team.

This may sound like more work, but it really makes it easy and fun.  The team (usually 3-4 people) meets once and comes up with a theme and possible activities/ideas. Then each team member takes on a piece of the meeting.  This allows for creativity and opportunities for professional development for all staff as they put together a presentation or exercise. We have seen team members stretch themselves and blossom. Many have discovered new gifts and passions through this process.  The team rotates each month so eventually everyone gets involved in the planning.  Even our introverts have found something to contribute and came away from experience being glad they did it.

2)  Have a formalized agenda and send it out ahead of time.

Send out an agenda with the theme and each speaker/activity a week ahead of time.  Slap on a cute graphic or joke around the theme. Some of the themes we’ve used recently are managing change, diversity, generational differences, employee benefits, strategic planning, managing stress, and customer service.

Our agendas include the following formula:

  • Opening comments by meeting team leader – set expectations (5 min)
  • Team Building exercise – generally hands on fun. We’ve played jeopardy, guessing games, trust exercises, shown videos, and more. (20 min)
  • Education – Have an update from other areas in the organization or bring in an outside speaker on a timely topic (20 min)
  • Updates  – timely announcements and Q & A. (10  min)
  • Appreciation – always include an appreciation exercise and call out good work.  (5 min)
  • End in a potluck, birthday celebration or other fun event – we usually do our meetings at 11:00 am and end with a potluck for lunch or a birthday party in the break room.

3) Keep it fast paced and fun.

Our meetings are usually only an hour.  Each activity is no more than 20 minutes.

4) Organize the room in a circle or classroom style, depending on the theme.

Take out the tables if possible.

5) Don’t forget the small things.

Bringing in a pot of coffee and a package of cookies and healthy treats can make an amazing difference in the fun level.

Improving our meetings has made a difference in employee engagement even outside of the meetings. The work culture develops into one of fun and learning and we see relationships being built, repaired and improved upon.

The formula we use may not be the perfect one for your group culture, but I guarantee if you make even a few small changes and incorporate some of the ideas here, you too will be known as having the best staff meetings ever!

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training and Director of Washington’s 529 Plan. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home, and 52 Communication Tips. To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:  www.cornerstone-ct.com