And what you can do about it.

Whether you’re the peppy office leader or the dour sort of middle management type: you probably know that staff meetings are an important mode of communication that can be used to deliver important information, motivate your staff, and get everyone on the same page.

Your staff, however, may see it very differently.

They may see it as an awkward waste of their time and energy. If during your staff meeting, you ask “Who’s ready to get out there and really get the day going?” And this is the reaction:

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You have a problem.

If your staff meeting loosely resembles a convention for narcoleptics and lethargy- it’s time to kick things up a notch and actually be an effective leader.

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you know, the staff meeting is the lamest thing ever. It just is. This also holds true of office meetings. You can bring in all the Dunkin Donuts you want, but if your staff meeting is lame, it’s lame and no amount of coffee will change that. Only effective leadership will. So, what are the most common reasons property management staff meetings are ineffective, boring, and a painful waste of their time and yours?

Problem Number 1: There is NO point to this meeting

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You do not have to be this guy.

If you have pre-scheduled staff meetings, odds are pretty good you’ve got this problem. Unfortunately, while having these little team building meet-ups is often highly recommended and touted as being a great way to pull everyone together: it doesn’t do you any good if your entire team is like, “Why are we even here?!”

Even if you’ve got regular weekly or even daily meetings, you need to have a clear objective set and adhered to. It doesn’t matter if your company culture is “fly by the seat of the pants and fun”- it doesn’t matter if it’s “Stuffy corporate SOP”: you have got to have clear answer to the question of: “What’s the point?” or you are sunk. Every time.

You need to be doing one or even all of these things:

  • Discussing an actual issue, WITH potential solutions: save the venting for your therapists.
  • Share critical information respective of business development
  • Brainstorm on how to better identify and use opportunities
  • Address challenges within your organization
  • Recognize efforts of key players within your organization

If the sole purpose of holding a meeting is because you think you should, team building, or just because you haven’t in a while? You don’t have a point and you need to come up with one.

Problem Number 2: This meeting is a clustersuck.

Ever have a meeting to address a problem devolve into complaints about the company, and then even further into perhaps everyone sitting around gossiping or talking about sports?

Do the crickets chirp even when you DO have a reason for holding the meeting?

This is because you have no set way for the meeting to go. This sounds like stuffy corporate advice, but it really isn’t. You can still make meetings interesting and actually effective: but you can’t if you don’t have a clear course of action. Having vague objectives for the meeting, throwing in a bunch of minor issues in with the key ones you want to discuss: these are just two of the most common ways a meeting will lose focus. When you do decide you’re going have a meeting based on a couple of issues, concerns or whatever: also trim it down. Limit items on the agenda to those that are the most important to your business, to you, and to your team. Once you have that ready- email it to everyone at least 24 hours before the staff meeting. Keep on topic and keep your staff on topic so that everyone can get to lunch or back to work without wanting to throw things.

Problem Number 3: Big Mouths Take the Stage

You probably know who offers the most input in your office. They always do. Odds are, if you do hold regular staff meetings, you are keenly aware of who will be the first to speak up, who will do the most talking, and who will just kind of sit at the back so they can look at their Facebook feed without you noticing. There is a three pronged attack that works best in these situations.

You also know who the quieter ones are, and when you’re creating an agenda, be sure to include something that they should be commenting on and call them out to get them to do so.

As far as the more vocal ones, you’re going to have to be That Guy here, and cut people off. Apologize for interrupting them and then, in the nicest possible way, let them know that there are others in the room.

Lastly, make sure you are asking direct questions of people. If you do notice that some aren’t speaking up, call them out. Ask them pointed questions about the issue at hand.

Problem Number 4: The Real Life Flame War

It seems as social media gives way towards lax social skills, we have forgotten the basics of Philosophy 101. An argument consists of two parts:

  • Premise: This is defined as being the proposition which gives reasons, grounds, and evidence for accepting a conclusion.
  • Conclusion: Hopefully, this is established based on the premise and its propositions.

If you are failing to guide people away from the subjectives or your staff isn’t prepared to discuss the issues at hand: you will end up with a meeting that goes absolutely nowhere. You can create an amazing Powerpoint to provoke all the thoughts in the world, but without organization and planning: it’s probably not going to be all that effective. Sending out a memo with the agenda, objectives and other issues that will be up for discussion can help to head that problem off at the pass.

Additionally, this combines all too often with Problem 3, because your talkers will attempt to steamroll your quieter staff. Don’t let them.

Problem Number 5: No conclusion

Not every meeting is going to end with every problem solved. While that holds true, that doesn’t mean you have to allow the meeting to feel like a big waste. There has to be a clear idea as to what should be done about something. The best way to do this is to have that in your agenda and on the memos you send: that at the end of the meeting there will be a discussion about potential courses of action when it comes to those things discussed.

If you’re having a hard time understanding why a staff meeting needs to be productive: look no further than your bottom line. For each staff member present: there’s an hourly or flat salary rate at play. If you have ten staffers that are each paid $25 an hour and you have a three hour staff meeting to nowhere: you have essentially just wasted $750 and the cost of the donuts and coffee.

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Kurt Kroeck has written articles in real estate, law, and art related niches for a number of high profile publications. He is an avid WW2 re-enactor, artist in graphite, charcoal, and digital media. He volunteers in animal rescue and enjoys spending time with his children.

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