A sure way to solicit a groan from many employees is to announce a staff meeting. The word "meeting" is associated with boredom and wasting time in the minds of many employees. Make your meetings exciting and productive by presenting information and solving problems in an enjoyable way that encourages team building.
Group Problem Solving
Use meetings to encourage employees to work in teams to practice problem solving. You can make up a problem to have fun and encourage creative thinking and team building, or ask team members to tackle a real problem that the company faces. An example of a "fun" problem is to give each team a selection of straws and marshmallows and challenge them to build a higher tower than the others. Later, you can document and discuss the problem-solving process. Real problems a company might face are determining the reason for increased customer complaints, high turnover or low sales. Generating potential solutions to these problems can help to build strong teams.
Sometimes there is simply too much information to cover in a staff meeting, such as a revised company handbook. In this case, use a technique called jigsawing to help employees assimilate the information faster. Divide people into as many as six groups and ask each to read a chapter of the handbook or other material that you need to cover. You can review up to six chapters or blocks of information in this way. Give each person in the group a number that correlates to the chapter for which they are responsible. After individuals have read the material, which they can do before the meeting, they meet with others who have the same chapter number to discuss it. Later, they return to their group to share what they learned about the information. At the end of the meeting, you can address questions that concern the team as a whole.
Play a Game
Games can liven up a meeting and teach valuable workplace skills. "Minefield" is a particularly appropriate game for team building. To play, place cones or other obstacles in an area about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Give each employee a partner, and request that one partner wear a blindfold. The one who can see guides the blindfolded partner through the "minefield." This activity facilitates communication, teaches trust and helps teams to learn how to deal with frustrating circumstances.
Give Your Meeting a Theme
Providing a theme for a staff meeting can give a festive feel to the proceedings and help to stimulate ideas. One software company that wanted to increase market share had a meeting with the theme, "Rocket to the Top!" For such a theme, meeting organizers can hang up photos of astronauts, stick stars to the wall and ceiling, and bring in a rocket-shaped cake. The memo for the meeting could have wording such as "Your ideas are out of this world," along with the pertinent details. Any theme can work – just assure it ties into the goal for your meeting.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.