As a small business owner, you will likely be managing your employees yourself. Whether you’re managing a team of three or 30 makes no difference when it comes to running an effective meeting. The best meetings are the result of forward planning and employee engagement and participation and all of this should take place well before the meeting itself.
Prior to the meeting, there are 5 steps you should follow to ensure attendance, participation and short but productive meetings.
1. Send out invitation and/or amend staff computer calendars well in advance of meeting if possible
Unless they are the result of some urgent or unexpected event, last-minute meetings don’t tend to carry much weight and tend to be perceived as casual and unimportant. As a result, employees attend with closed minds and a lack of enthusiasm. Setting a meeting date in advance means employees will come to the meeting with a sense of purpose. At the very least, they'll take it more seriously.
If the meeting is a follow-on from a previous meeting, or a regular monthly meeting, send out the invitation shortly after the last meeting.
2. Have an agenda and send it out in advance
This will usually be based on the last meeting, and should be sent out shortly after or with the invitation. For example, if proposals or an action plan were made last time, you will need to see what action has been taken at this upcoming meeting. There might have been topics on the agenda at the last meeting that didn’t get discussed. If these are still important and still relevant, put them on this meeting’s agenda.
Add any key business developments that need discussion e.g. an important new client, a new software system, the introduction of a new member of staff and such like.
3. Ask if anyone wishes to add an item for discussion
This is why sending out the agenda shortly after the last meeting is important, as it ensures that what was discussed at the last meeting is still fresh in everyone’s minds. By asking staff to add an item for discussion, you will be engaging them prior to the meeting and giving them a chance to have their ideas heard. This will likely result in a positive cycle of increased meeting attendance and participation.
4. Send out finalized agenda in advance
This way, everybody knows what to expect at the meeting, at least one or two of the items on the agenda should be of interest or relevance to each member of staff (if not, why are they invited?) and there’s a better chance of the meeting staying on track.
If discussion of an agenda item requires reading a report or other data, send this out by email along with the agenda and ask staff to read it before the meeting. That way, time is not wasted on the day.
5. Send a meeting reminder 24 – 48 hours before the meeting
This will ensure people don’t “forget” to attend and will discourage late-comers. If someone really can't attend, it will serve as a reminder for them to send in their apologies, if they haven’t done so already.