The Hard Truth About Staff Meetings

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A few weeks ago, I shared our intention to become laser-focused on our core mission. Since then, we’ve been examining – and questioning – a lot of our sacred cows. Why are we doing what we are doing? Is each activity mission-critical and truly effective? The best use of our human and financial resources? Does it provide unique value to the community?

The initial effects have been surprising. One of the first targets turned out to be our bi-weekly staff meetings. The meetings we convene with external talent are consistently lively and inspiring, but lately the ones with our internal talent had become lacklustre at best. We struggled to generate items for the agenda and participation was half-hearted. Energy was at an all time low.

The decision to challenge our own status quo led us to acknowledge this “elephant in the room”. The entire team talked about it, then brainstormed creative ideas for improvement, and implemented a few we thought would energize the gatherings. Those failed. So eventually we agreed: no more staff meetings, at least for now. They weren’t moving us towards our mission – and what’s worse, we were starting to dread them. It was time to try something different!

Making the change wasn’t easy. Team members expressed a variety of questions and concerns. How could we communicate with each other without those regular meetings? Would we become disconnected from each other? How would we share information effectively?

As it turns out, over the past few weeks we’ve gathered more often than usual. Casually for frappuccinos and hilarious pop quizzes, formally to discuss projects like our new CRM and evaluation metrics, at the water cooler and over our cubicle walls. We even held a surprise birthday party for one of our staff. (It turned out it wasn’t actually her birthday, but that’s a whole other story).

So far, our office feels more vibrant and our team is more connected. We’re more effective – AND having more fun. Maybe we’ll have staff meetings again at some point in the future. But so far, we’re enjoying doing things differently.

How are the staff meetings at your organization? Are they a source of energy and inspiration? Or something you dread? Can you imagine cancelling them and doing something different?

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