Bring Back the Staff Meeting

Having regularly scheduled staff meetings has become a no-no, something we avoid like the plague in workplaces. Why?

Boycotting staff meetings is absurd. Meetings are not a problem dear manager; bad meetings are. And make no mistake; you need them.

The solution is simple: Have good meetings!

Before we jump to any how-to (something you can probably figure out on your own anyway) let’s talk story today about why you should have them.

How this is jumped on my radar

A feature I’ve loved with using Google Calendar is that you can have several calendars, each for their own specific purpose, merged together on one weekly view in a pleasing color-coded rainbow of productivity. Very useful.

One of my favorites has been a ‘green light’ calendar I call “Personal Intersection.” I’ve used it for logging the recurring staff meetings of my Say Leadership Coaching customers, and workplaces I’m aware of which actively use and practice Managing with Aloha. These are the people of the “in real life” Aloha and Ho‘ohana movements I want to actively support as much as is personally possible for me — and here’s the key, when it’s also rhythmically useful for them.

This is how I use it: When I’m in town (which in Hawai‘i often translates to “on their island”) and happen to have a morning or afternoon block free, I check who might have a staff meeting then, pick up the phone and ask to be invited, asking if I can stop by and sit in to support them, or if they like, to give a short 10-minute whiteboard lesson on whatever MWA value-alignment they wish to revisit. I do this for free. They don’t have to ask, because I offer, knowing that I will love being there with them in their working with Aloha laboratory. It’s been a great way to optimize my travel schedule.

This has been getting harder to do. Imagine that: Hard to give away free presentations or responsiveness coaching because I’ve been hearing that, “We don’t have staff meetings anymore.”

Huddle by Arne Hendriks on Flickr

A recurrence is predictable scheduling convenience

Now I have terrific customers. Because they embody Aloha they always welcome my visits and do whatever they can to get their team together. But I tend to call them less often than before if I feel I’m  intruding, precisely because I don’t want them going out of their way for me. I want to intersect and blend in, not interrupt and disrupt.

People are so polite, and they don’t  say no, even when they should. And I certainly don’t want to call attention to something which is now glaringly missing for you. Okay, maybe I do, but I’m writing this to be more proactive than reactionary about it!

Those recurrences, where everyone in an organization knows that you meet for a sacred hour or so every week are human touchpoints; they are huddles which add invaluable ‘social currency’ to the emotional bank account of workplace teams.

If you honor that as the ‘Why?’ you have meetings, how you have them, and what they’re about will follow, form for function. People will not dread attending each week if your staff meetings become a time they go to the well and recharge, because you’ve made them a source of energy, inspiration, and their opportunity to connect on a regular basis without having to schedule something special.

Instead of boycotting workplace meetings, improve them

Bring back your staff meetings, and make them interesting and useful.

I’m purposely excluding the word ‘creative’ here too: Creative approaches to meeting reinvention can totally miss the mark, because we get distracted and off-point with silly surface fixes that are cosmetic and meaningless. You know what I mean: ‘manufactured play’ can insult the value people place on the time they give you by merit of their attention.

I get that recessionary times have caused you to look for efficiencies, I really do. But consider the price of omission. And by all means, say “No, can we try again next time?” to visitors like me when you need to own your agendas, or if my version of ‘given for free’ will actually cost you in some way.

So huddle up: Bring back your staff meetings and have them be a place your people plug in and get charged up. You cannot sacrifice getting your team together on a regular basis to converse and collaborate in person socially, and without added production: Staff meetings are part of that intangible worth within Sense of Workplace belonging.

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Archive Aloha: Here’s a Take 5 of related postings:

  1. 3 Ways Managers Create Energetic Workplaces
  2. Sense of Workplace: It’s Milk, Maslow and You
  3. Drink your Kool-aid
  4. So, you think you’re approachable huh?
  5. D5M-ing your Decisions: See with your ears

Check out the post tags for more.

Update: My stats tell me that someone has been coming back to this post due to a search for “rules of engagement.” So Arlington, Virginia, this is for you, just in case you happen to return: What you’re looking for might be found here: The Real Rules of Engagement at my Tumblr.

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sayalakai_rosasayMy mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Tuesday I write a leadership posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser and will add copies to Talking Story when they blend nicely with our conversations here. If this is the first you have caught sight of my Say “Alaka‘i” tagline, you can learn more on this Talking Story page: About Say “Alaka‘i”. There are some differences in this Talking Story version, most notably that most of my hyperlinks will keep you here on this blog.


  1. says

    Having a shared purpose that we care about, and having the human connection in which we get to experience the sharing of what we care about, is, indeed, energizing! I want to put in a plug for opening the meeting with play. Ball-tossing can be very connecting! Music & dance can wake everybody up! My friend, Maggie, has free, easy resources for spontaneous music and dance on her website: She has a free download of fun & easy dancing games, and she has free, great music & dance videos that you can play for everyone to dance along with. One song only takes three minutes and you’ve instantly got a room full of smiling people who are grooving in rhythm together . . . I do think this is a meeting everyone will want to come to . . .

    Just want to say that you are the bomb, Rosa. And I am so happy to help you in your helping others with even more great ideas and resources . . . love & blessings, Ka’imi

    • Rosa Say says

      Good thoughts Ka’imi, thank you. Very true that there is a place for play. For instance, I’ve been in several staff meetings which get to late starts because everyone has arrived on time, and the room is buzzing loudly with individual conversations – it takes the chair a while to simple get everyone’s attention! Music or your ball throwing idea would likely do the trick in a pleasant way.

  2. says

    At our department of communication and marketing (about 10 people) we have a regular staff meeting every Monday morning for one hour. Everybody informs the others about the projects he or her is working on, and speaks about problems which are important to be solved and where the opinion of the other colleagues is important and necessary.
    We try to meet for just one hour. Special problems are discussed in smaller groups, not in the Monday meeting. We also use this meeting to reflect on past projects and to celebrate them with coffee and croissants.
    .-= Ulla Hennig ´s last blog ..Instapaper =-.

    • Rosa Say says

      Thank you for sharing Ulla. I can see how your Monday practice can be a very useful start to each week, getting everyone to focus back to business and away from the weekend! Many stay away from that Monday time slot to give people their own pacing, but I personally like the proactive approach, and expectation that everyone comes prepared and ready to hit the ground running.