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👍 11 Dos and Don'ts of Successful Staff Meetings (+3 Free Agenda Templates)
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👍 11 Dos and Don'ts of Successful Staff Meetings (+3 Free Agenda Templates)

How to make the most of your team's time.

April 23, 2020
Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

If you’re wondering how to improve staff meetings, you’ve come to the right place.

Meetings should inform and motivate a team, but occasionally they fall flat. This can be especially true of remote or virtual meetings, where it can be hard to keep engagement high through a screen.

The benefits of staff meetings are plentiful, however. Boosted morale, better communication, and more ideas exchanged are just a few of the gems mined from successful meetings. Simply put, better staff meetings make for a better workplace.

To help you start chipping away at tough meetings, we’ve compiled a list of 10 dos and don’ts designed to sharpen your tools.

But first, we’re going to go over some of the most common questions we get about running successful staff meetings:

Are staff meetings necessary?

In the earliest stages of a new business or organization, formal staff meetings may not happen. Instead, a few founders might informally collaborate and communicate to get things off the ground.

However, as an organization grows and adds teams, staff meetings become essential. Without them, communication tends to become disjointed, and collaboration falls apart. A workplace culture fails to develop without a sense of unity. Team members lose the ability to ask for and offer feedback on, and help with, challenging projects.

Without a sense of inclusion in one another’s projects, team members become focused only on their own work and struggles. This tunnel vision and isolation eat away at morale and motivation. Everything is ten times harder to do—but good staff meetings can fix that.

What is the purpose of a staff meeting?

Why have staff meetings?

Many of us have sat through painful, dragged-out meetings (that could have been an email) at some point. But they don’t have to be this way. Teams need to share goals, procedures, and strategies. Focusing strictly on necessary staff meeting topics will keep meetings useful and time-conscious.

Successful staff meetings bring everyone together to check-in with one another and communicate hurdles and needs. At the very least, staff meetings keep everyone on the same page. When done well, they increase accountability, engagement, and creative problem-solving.

When a team gathers to share progress and build upon it together, they fuel an organization’s overall success. In turn, this contributes to one of the many benefits of staff meetings: a productive, engaged workplace culture that team members actually enjoy. Successful staff meetings leave everyone feeling accomplished and optimistic.

How do you announce a staff meeting?

To announce a staff meeting, first select a communication tool that all invitees are sure to receive, see, and RSVP to. It can be confusing and disjointing if you send out a calendar invite for a recurring meeting with no explanation. And if you include a lengthy explanation in the calendar invite, that can make the meeting feel unnecessarily burdensome.

If meeting invitees use Slack to collaborate, start a thread. You might also want to make a short Loom video for your announcement to give it a personal touch. Email is also an option.

Use the best practices from the Vital meetings framework notably, that all meetings need PANTS (Purpose, Agenda, Notes, Tasks, Shared).

In the announcement for your staff meeting, clearly communicate key information about the meeting, as well as the P and A.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location (or meeting room link or dial-in number, for remote meetings)
  • Meeting Purpose
  • Agenda

If the meeting will be recurring, note that as well.

For the staff meeting agenda, you can attach it, link to it, or put it entirely in the calendar invite (just make sure it is accessible from the calendar invite). Encourage invitees to add to or provide feedback on the agenda ahead of the meeting, such as by asking participants to summarize their updates in advance with a few bullet points.

Being inclusive with agenda ownership builds investment and boosts morale. If you're not sure where to start, check out these sample meeting agendas.

What should be included in a staff meeting?

There are a few best practices when it comes to creating worthwhile staff meeting topics. Ideally, your agenda will include items like important goals and discussion topics:

  • Meeting objectives
  • Recognition of team member achievements
  • Notable organizational changes or accomplishments
  • Points to be discussed
  • Organizational goals
  • Team member updates and goals
  • Action items

We’ll share some free staff meeting templates with you right after we go over the much-anticipated dos and don’ts.

Successful Staff Meeting Dos

Some of the best practices for meetings include:

  1. Using a meeting agenda. Ideally, the meeting agenda should be created and shared a week in advance, and attendees should be able to add or suggest items.
  2. Offering recognition. Acknowledging accomplishments and team members’ hard work is a great morale booster!
  3. Spending time solving problems. It’s tempting to fill the agenda with a long list of things to talk about, but allotting more time to discuss solutions to important issues is often much more productive.
  4. Keeping things relevant. No one wants to sit in a meeting that doesn’t require their input, so stick to meeting items that affect everyone present. 
  5. Taking, and sharing, meeting notes. Have a designated person take notes of what happens in the meeting, then share those notes afterward. Include people who were invited to the meeting, but couldn’t make it.
  6. Assigning all tasks. Make sure any action items that come out of the meeting have a clear owner.
  7. Asking for feedback. Remember: accepting input breeds investment. Ask attendees how staff meetings can be improved upon in the future.

Successful Staff Meeting Don’ts

To improve your staff meetings, be sure that you don’t:

  1. Fill time. Bringing in outside speakers, creating busywork, or revisiting already-established policies and procedures are often a waste of time.
  2. Start late. Be respectful by starting and ending on time. You can even end early if all meeting items have been covered!
  3. Multitask. If your attention is on your phone, tablet, or laptop during a meeting, it sends the signal that the meeting isn’t important. Meeting and note-taking apps are an exception, of course, and it wouldn’t hurt to make this a rule for all attendees—but lead by example!
  4. Lecture. While major announcements, presentations, and organizational updates may require an all-hands meeting that is less engaging, most staff meetings should be an exchange of ideas rather than a one-way communication street.

What types of staff meetings are there?

In addition to the all-hands meetings mentioned in the example above, most organizations also have more regular team meetings and management meetings.

All-hands meetings bring every team member of an organization together for engagement and alignment. Check out our free all-hands staff meeting template.

All-Hands Meeting Template

Company Vision

  • Start every all hands by reiterating the company vision — where we are at, what we believe, and where we are going.

Key Metrics

  • Look at high-level metrics and explain what they mean in the context of the business and the broader market in general.

Customer/employee updates

  • Invite leads from teams/departments to provide brief updates. Focus on high-level ideas and customer anecdotes.
  • Make an effort to include new learnings — what has gone well, what hasn’t, and how that changes things.

Deep dive (Important topics & large-scale changes)

  • Optional agenda item for occasionally drilling deep into something that is happening at the company. Examples include changes in strategy, positioning, and hiring/restructuring.

AMA (Ask me anything)

  • Leave time at the end of the meeting to answer employee questions.

Appreciation reward

  • Many companies like to honor teams or individuals during their All Hands. Often these awards are peer-nominated and do not come from the executive team.

Team meetings generally happen weekly within specific departments. Keep everyone focused on upcoming priorities with our free team meetings template.

Team Meeting Template

Objective

What is the purpose of this team meeting? Include any objectives and discussion topics.

Agenda

Does this meeting have a pre-planned agenda or structure? Include it here for easy reference.

Discussion Points

Summarize all relevant discussion points here.

Main Takeaways

What were the main insights from this team meeting? Include key decisions made, progress reports, and any opportunities, issues, or concerns that should be shared with colleagues.

Other Important Notes

Is there any other valuable information worth sharing? It does not have to be directly related to the meeting topic.

Share

List all key stakeholders not present and other departments that this information should be shared with.

Take Action

Clarify next steps, who's completing them, and when they should be done by. Note this information here to share and assign.

Follow-Up

How will we keep in touch and stay up-to-date about progress? Should we schedule another meeting?

Management meetings are for those in leadership positions. Re-focus managers and decision-makers with this free management meeting template.

Monthly Management Meeting Template

Review Metrics/KPIs

Track progress on metrics, goals vs. actual. Where are we off from the plan? Why?


Company Update

Share key updates and provide a “State of the Union.”

Department/Team Lead Roundtable

Keep everyone up to date, look for efficiencies, and help each other get unblocked.

Name

Recent wins


Current priorities


Anything you are stuck on?


Name

Recent wins


Current priorities


Anything you are stuck on?


Professional Development (Optional)

Improve your long-term business results through an interactive learning or team-building experience.

Problem-Solving Session

Chose one challenge or area of priority.

  • Presentation on the challenge
  • Open discussion to better understand the challenge and find solutions
  • Assign next steps

Next Steps

  • @name Task by DUE-DATE

Whatever kind of staff meeting, make it succeed with the right tools and practices.

Whether it’s taking and sharing meeting notes or collaborating on agendas, Hugo’s got you covered. Learn more about what it means to have "meetings, tasks, and notes — all in one place."

And if you need more sample meeting agendas, hop on over to our library where you can download them as Word Docs (.docx), Google Docs, or add them to your free Hugo account.

Click the image to search more meeting templates.👇

Free Sample Meeting Agendas
Vital Meetings
Vital Meetings
A methodology for amazing meetings. Say goodbye to boring, long, and unproductive meetings.
Get it
Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

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