Let’s be honest.
Most of us don’t love staff meetings.
They are often boring, too long and sometimes even irrelevant. And yet, we all know that staff meetings are a must if our teams are going to have any chance of staying on the same page.
Here’s the good news: staff meetings don’t have to be terrible. In fact, they can be constructive, compelling, and even fun.
The key is building your staff meetings around 5 energizing elements. Here they are.
1. Connect Relationally
When it comes to organization culture and team meetings in particular, Patrick Lencioni is a guru. One of his best books is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
According to Lencioni, the foundational characteristic of a healthy team is trust.
Every high performing staff team, whether in a business or a church, displays a high level of trust. How do you build trust? You do it by building strong relationships.
The first element of a great staff meeting is relational connection. For my team, every staff meeting begins with a relational question. Here are a few examples:
- What were the highs and lows of your weekend?
- Tell us about the best summer of your life.
- What was the most important moment in your childhood?
- What is something that’s happened in your life lately that we can celebrate with you?
Over time, by asking good questions that help team members open up and share life, trust is built among the team. And, trust is the foundation of every high performing team.
2. Published Agendas
One of the leadership lessons I’ve learned recently is that not everyone thinks like I do. That might sound like a “duh” comment but hear me out.
I’m an external processor and a loud thinker. In other words, I make my mind up on new ideas by talking them out with other people.
I’ve discovered that others don’t do this at all. They decide how they feel about ideas alone, in the quiet of their mind. They are internal processors and quiet thinkers.
Here’s why this matters: If your team learns of the meeting agenda when they sit down at the table, all of the external processors will dominate the conversation as they process ideas out loud. However, the internal processors will keep quiet and make up their minds after the meeting when they have space to do so.
In other words, if you keep the agenda under wraps until the meeting, you will automatically exclude the internal processors. They will feel undervalued and you will miss out on their valuable contributions.
What’s the solution? Publish the agenda before the meeting. Do it at least the day before so that your internal processors have time to prepare. Even a simple email like this can go a long ways.
By doing this, you will ensure participation from your entire team.
3. Is This for Everyone?
One of the quickest ways to kill momentum in a team meeting is to include agenda items that don’t involve everyone present.
When topics are brought up that don’t involve everyone, the individuals who aren’t directly involved will mentally check out. And once a person checks out it is difficult to reel them back in. In addition, repeated agenda items that don’t include everyone will lead to team members feeling like your meetings aren’t relevant.
One of the easiest solutions to this problem is to ask yourself, “Is this agenda item for everyone?” If it isn’t, do yourself and your team a favor and have an off-line conversation.
By taking this simple step, you will ensure that team members feel like staff meetings are a valuable usage of their time.
4. Reinforce Your Values
The engine of an organization is its values and culture. When all team members live and breathe the values of an organization, the results can be incredible because everyone will be running in the same direction.
Assuming you have taken the time to define and communicate your values, always use your team meetings to reinforce your values. This can be done in a few different ways. Here are two examples:
- Focus on a value each month or each season. During these periods of emphasis, make everything about that particular value. For us, in our church, we are in a season of emphasizing hospitality.
- Act as the champion of the values. As the leader, look for every opportunity to weave the language of your values into conversations during your staff meetings.
“Hey Bill, thank you so much for bringing up the issue we experienced last weekend at our guest check-in kiosk. This is so important. If hospitality truly is one of our core values, then we must figure this out and improve the guest experience.”
Perhaps the most important task of a leader is to organize your church around the core values and mission of your organization. As many have said, “vision leaks.” Because of this, we must constantly reinforce our values.
5. What’s at Stake
Here’s why most staff meetings are boring: The agenda items aren’t compelling. In other words, there is nothing at stake.
Great team meetings involve tension, honest debate and even conflict. Think about it, the last staff meeting that you actually enjoyed involved some sort of tension. There was a problem to solve or an issue to debate. There are the meetings that energize us.
If you want to transition from boring staff meetings to staff meetings that energize and propel the organization forward, you need to ask yourself, “What’s at stake here?” In other words, “Why does this meeting matter?”
In my opinion, there must be at least one agenda item that draws the participants into the tension. Here are a few examples:
- We need to decide if VBS is the best ministry strategy for us or if it’s time to switch to day camps.
- We have $20,000 left in our Missions budget. What is the best way to use this money?
- We are losing momentum in our Sunday evening service but we are full in our Sunday morning services. What’s a better strategy?
These agenda items are compelling and engaging. Issues like these will lead to energized staff meetings.
If you’re interested in building tension in your staff meetings, I recommend Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.
Well, there you have it. 5 Tips for Great Church Staff Meetings.
I’d love to hear what has worked in your staff meetings in the comments below.