Meetings are an essential part of the life of every organisation and your ability to run effective meetings with your management skills is a critical part of your success in meeting management. ~Brian Tracy.
One of the most effective ways to keep employees up-to-date and working in cohesion is by holding regular staff meetings. Employees need to see an open and transparent decision-making process within organisations. It is essential for them to be involved in these processes since many things affect them directly. Therefore, a well-defined communication process is a key component of every institution especially for non-profit organisations where this tool is used to facilitate increased comprehension and effective implementation of its day to day activities.
Importance of staff meetings for non-profit organisations
Let us explore some of the importance of staff meeting as well as ways in which non-profits can maintain this culture for an effective staff meeting, taking the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI) as a case study.
- Staff meetings keep everyone informed: At work, beginning the week by attending a staff meeting is often healthy in ensuring that everyone in the organisation is well abreast with each other’s tasks or work schedule for the entire week. This is very important because while sharing information on the respective staff’ work schedule, it drives accountability and a sense of responsibility in each staff. This subtly stimulates efficiency in every team member in the delivery of his or her duties. This is very typical of WACSI, where each unit in the organisation gives an update of their weekly tasks, ensuring that the state of completion of the previous week’s activities is made known to colleagues.
- A platform to provide objective performance feedback: During staff meetings, employees are able to communicate their opinions and ideas in a structured and commonly accepted way. Though final authority and decision-making belong to the leadership of the organisation or heads of departments, team leaders are often able to obtain valuable inputs from their colleagues. It is often good to utilise these meetings as a communication tool to open up great opportunities for employees to share their workday experiences with one another. At meetings, WACSI gives everyone the opportunity to share their views and opinions about happenings within the organisation without fear or intimidation.
- Staff meetings are a fundamental ground for problem resolution: Interpersonal disagreements can arise because of generational differences, values, and overall life experiences. That is why regularly held staff meetings create a forum for consistent discussions on ongoing or new disagreements and/or interpersonal misunderstandings in an organisation, which certainly can occur between individuals who interact with one another on a regular basis. This can be or the organisation’s theory of change, individuals’ approach to work, workplace values, the rationale for engaging or not in specific thematic areas, just to list a few. It is, therefore, necessary to create the platform to hash out ideological discrepancies within the organisation before they become crisis at the workplace. And staff meetings provide a possible avenue for this. Undoubtedly, when relationships in the organisation are divided and continue to aggravate without early intervention, challenges occur from various sides, affecting the entire working process.
- Staff meetings play a vital role in leadership: Holding regular staff meetings provide a great opportunity for programme heads to “rally the troops”, motivate staff through recognition and share opportunities. “Many times, staff meetings held in my organisation [are] chaired by the CEO. In his physical absence, a skype meeting is held and chaired by him. There is a monopolistic approach to which meetings are held as well as decisions taken” said a colleague from another organisation. WACSI, however, has a different culture towards staff meeting. Every staff member is given an opportunity to chair the meeting, even in the presence of the executive director. This approach makes one experience leadership and serves as a ‘training ground’ for others to learn. In an interview with Joseph Kwame Opoku, an alumnus of WACSI’s internship programme, he said: “WACSI was the foundational element of my career as it gave me an opportunity and confidence into who I am”. Kwame had the opportunity to chair staff meetings while at WACSI and today he has shown leadership skills in every aspect of his career. One of which is serving in the capacity of Mastercard Foundation Youth Ambassador.
- Staff meetings create team bonding and the opportunity to celebrate each other: What else can you boast of when you work in an organisation where regular staff meeting reminds everyone that they are in fact part of a team and that they are not alone? These meetings are an opportunity to celebrate personal and professional successes in the workplace. This not only improves cohesion but also dedication to the organisation’s mission and vision.
Some of the challenges that may hinder a successful staff meeting maybe lack concentration while the meeting is on ongoing, poor time management, multitasking by some attendees, intergenerational differences amongst others.
Recommendations for effective staff meetings
It is important for organisations to take into consideration some of the processes involved in ensuring and planning a successful staff meeting. The agenda of the meeting should be shared with staff prior to the meeting as well as minutes of previous minutes of the previous meeting. These would enable staff members to prepare adequately for the meeting. During the meeting, reflecting and discussing the previous minutes will ensure proper referrals of the tasks that were executed.
Starting and ending the meeting on time is also very essential in ensuring that work hours are not lost. This can be done by setting up the duration for the commencement and if possible, closure of the meeting to help maintain corporate discipline as far as working hours is concerned.
Commencing the meeting right away with serious business and noteworthy information or news helps in maintaining seriousness during the meeting and within the organisation, rather than kicking off from other matters which in my opinion aren’t too relevant to the work at hand. The latter may cause staff to discuss diverse issues which may divert the attention of the team from the core business of the week. However, this would depend on the internal policy of the organisation.
Also, distributing minutes from the meeting within 24 hours is very significant in ensuring that colleagues provide feedback on what was discussed at the meeting. This nurtures a sense of seriousness in conducting a more effective staff meeting in the future and ensuring a healthy organisational organisation.
To conclude, it was a privilege for me to experience the consistent organisation of staff meetings at WACSI and the seriousness with which these were coordinated. I was also privileged to chair some of these meetings and write down minutes in others. These expanded my comprehension of the work WACSI does. It also enabled me to contribute to the success of the organisation in my capacity as a Communications Officer. I, therefore, urge organisations that maintain such a practice to keep it up and share their experience so that others can learn from. For those who have not yet cultivated this practice, I entreat you to initiate this practice within your organisation and you won’t regret it.
What is the culture of staff meetings in your organisation? Share your experience with us!
By: Agede Mawuena