Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for January, 2014

Here’s a couple of fresh ideas for staff meetings.

Bringing your team together for a regularly scheduled staff meeting might include status or project updates, or general questions or input about current work demands. Yet, staff meetings could generate more interest and enthusiasm among participants if the meeting also included a few fresh ideas, exercises or discussions. A great question to ask yourself when creating an agenda for your staff meeting is: Does the agenda include an opportunity to build more effective communication among the team and/or offer professional development?

Here are two ideas that will meet these goals, spice up your next couple of staff meetings, and only take about 15-20 minutes each:

IDEA 1: Distribute a one-page worksheet that reads as follows, and ask team members to take a few minutes to complete it. Once everyone completes the implied sentence, and notes it on their worksheet, each person shares their personal answers with the whole team. After everyone shares their answers you can debrief the exercise by asking if people already knew the tidbit shared by their co-worker, or if they learned anything new about one or more of their team members. An interesting exchange will take place that either reinforces how well the team knows one another or offers some new tidbits to consider when communicating with each other. (Later, the worksheets can also be scanned and sent to all staff for future reference.)
Here’s the content you’ll include on the one-page worksheet:

Everyone may want to know…………

Offer one specific piece of information that may help your co-workers communicate and work most effectively with you, or simply understand you better. (For example: Everyone may want to know that I’m not a morning person, so if possible, it’s best to approach me after I’ve had an hour in the office; or Everyone may want to know that I strongly prefer email or texts over voice mail; or Everyone may want to know that when I get busy I sometimes get very focused on what I’m doing and may appear as though I’m not interested, so please approach me anyway if you need me.
IDEA 2: Distribute copies of a brief post from one of your favorite professional blogs that offers an area of development for the team, or a brief one-page professional article that offers rich food for thought. Give the team a few minutes to read it and give them 10-15 minutes to discuss it. Facilitating their comments and questions, or what they found valuable or challenging about the information may provide a great opportunity for you to offer coaching, or may generate valuable peer coaching. If the post or article generates more interest from the team than time allows, you can always add it to the next staff meeting agenda to continue the discussion.
If you try one or both of these ideas and they’re well received, you may want to engage team members to come up with a few fresh ideas that might be incorporated into future staff meetings.

Hiring family may naturally generate challenges.

Addressing someone directly with a concern, or escalating a concern at work is tough enough when co-workers or colleagues are involved, but when your co-worker or colleague is also your manager’s or executive’s family member, a whole new set of challenges kick in.

I’m confident to offer this perspective because of the many times over the years when I’ve personally heard feedback in various business environments relating to family connections within a company. Even in the most mutually respectful work relationships, it’s important to realize that communication will be impacted—whether it be minimally or significantly. If you think about it, whether it’s well-founded or not, it’s pretty natural for employees to feel that someone who is related to someone else in the organization may communicate a concern among family that may break confidences or worse, cause nepotism or unwanted repercussions.

Interestingly, I’ve not seen this same concern when owners of a company are related. Although clearly a familial business partnership offers its own unique set of challenges and strengths.

Many of us have already hired or will hire family members, and in some cases it works out beautifully. Trust among family members, for example, is sure to be a plus. Yet, I offer this post because I believe it’s a good idea to keep ourselves aware of the natural challenges that may occur when we hire family even under the best of circumstances.