1. Overgaard, Penny Morgan BA, RN, FAHCEP

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Ever wonder what you're accomplishing in your staff meetings? Do you meet monthly or quarterly and still find attendance and interest lagging? Staff meetings have different purposes in different work settings, but by taking the time to do some planning and foot work, a skillful manager can dramatically improve quality and attendance. These suggestions, based on Stephen Covey's Seven Habits, will help focus the time and energy put into staff meetings so that the needs of your employees and your organization are met.1


Step 1: Be proactive

Let your staff know well in advance when meetings are scheduled. Have a plan in mind as you set yearly and quarterly goals. Staff meetings at a hospital are expensive for both the unit and its employees. Make them dynamic and something not to be missed.


Step 2: Begin with the end in mind

Have a plan for staff meetings that mirrors the unit and the hospital's mission and goals. Neither you nor your staff members want to invest time and energy into activities that have no value. A good manager must know what she wants to achieve, carefully plan each meeting to take advantage of time, and create an achievable goal.


Step 3: First thing's first

Use memos and e-mail for distributing information; use staff meetings for energizing and inspiring performance. Don't waste time with tasks that can be done more quickly and efficiently in other ways. Instead, use staff meetings to create the excitement and enthusiasm that can only take place when people are together.


Step 4: Think win-win

Don't use staff meetings as open discussion time. Problem solving should be tackled as projects and confined to smaller work groups who can then report back to the staff or administration directly. Remember, the idea is that the employee and the hospital both win. Real solutions require looking for a resolution that creates value for all involved. This type of creativity takes focus, commitment, and time, which are best achieved in smaller groups.


Step 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Know what your staff members need and where they're coming from before the meeting. Use small groups or one-on-one interaction to get the "pulse" of the staff; use staff meetings to educate and inspire. If something unexpected comes up that you need to know more about, it might be best to table it until that problem can be the focus.


Step 6: Synergize

Interaction between groups creates an "enhanced combined effect." Carefully match the idea with staff needs to make the most of this synergy. Combine education with ideas, add staff members, and then make sure they leave with a plan on how to achieve the goal and what their contribution will be.


Step 7: Sharpen the saw

Invest in your staff by offering education, recognition, and a little fun. Remember that investing in relationships between employees and encouraging independence, as well as interdependence, are the keys to rewards. Always remember to set the climate for this culture at staff meetings.




1. Covey SR. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Franklin Covey; 2004. [Context Link]