Monday, August 05, 2013

Planning and Executing Staff Meetings

First published on Facebook on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

Lencioni argues - with a straight face - that a staff meeting should be/ could be as exciting as a good movie. If team members truly love and respect each other and each person is amped up about the mission, you might even enjoy a meaningful staff meeting (living out and contributing to a great experience) over watching a movie (passively observing someone else’s life go by). That’s a pretty high bar, but why not give it a shot?

Why do some people prefer root canals over meetings? Three reasons: (a) The staff meetings are poorly planned and executed; (b) The DNA of the group allows for - and even causes - unhealthy conflict (and only sick-in-the-head people enjoy unhealthy conflict), or (c) the organization’s mission is foggy and people have forgotten why they joined the cause. 

Let’s talk about planning and executing staff meetings. 

1. Make sure the right people are at the meetings. A staff meeting with more than seven or eight people is rarely efficient. Not everyone who has the time to be there needs to be there. 
2. Select a facilitator. This person prepares the agenda and leads the meetings. Consistently. Unless s/he is out of town. 
3. Hold the meetings on predictable days at predictable times. Occasional adjustments are necessary, but those have to be unusual. Agree on both a starting time and an ending time.
4. Start the meetings on time. If someone is perpetually late, the facilitator should address it one-on-one. It is unprofessional, frustrating, and disruptive when someone shows up - week after week - in the middle of whatever is going on.
5. Prepare a printed agenda. Give each person a copy. Usually the facilitator prepares the agenda. Be flexible with the agenda when it makes sense to do so.
6. Separate tactical meetings from strategic meetings. If you don’t, strategic will happen poorly if at all. 
       a. Tactical is defense; strategic is offense. 
       b. Tactical is evaluating, responding, making sure details are cared for, assuring that no one slips through the cracks, and proactively protecting the church from anything unhealthy.
       c. Strategic is rising above the details to see the lay of the land (helicoptering). Learning from leaders who are light years ahead of you. Making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Dreaming and scheming for the future. 
7. Work while you talk. If the group decides to post something important on Facebook, do it now. If you agree to send a thank you note to your tech leader, do it now. This allows you to leave most meetings with your “to-do” items already done. Obviously, some action items require more time which means they should wait until the meeting is over.  
8. Press forward with the agenda. A good team recognizes when it’s important to spend a lot of time resolving an issue and when it’s time to decide and move on. 
9. Mix up the venue and seating arrangement once in a while. Creativity comes easier when the flip chart and other team members are freshly arranged. 
10. In special situations, invite non-staff members to attend a meeting. You need their advice or their opinion, and sometimes the best way to get it is for them to interact with the staff. 
11. The bucks stops somewhere. A very high percentage of decisions will be made by reaching consensus, but occasionally the lead pastor needs to make the decision. 

What questions does this raise? What other rules have you practiced for effective meetings? 

Each team will approach the meetings in its own unique way. In my next blog, I will talk about how Epikos Church - Vancouver does it.  

No comments: