Staff Meetings Are Not What They Should Be

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about unproductive staff meetings: The supervisor hands out an agenda and follows it; however, it seems no one knows what is going on; can we make them more productive and get everyone on the same page?

I work in one of the Residence Halls, which is part of the University’s Residence Life & Housing Department. Our hall has a staff of nine people. I feel that our staff meetings are not very productive. My supervisor types out an agenda for us and we go over it during the meeting, but I feel like we are missing something. Also, even though we have an agenda, it seems like no one knows what is going on half the time. It seems like none of us are on the same page. With our nine person staff, I am one of the seven resident assistants (RA). The last two staff members are my supervisor and our desk manger. Anyway, as an RA, I am in charge of 53 residents on my floor. In this role, I am someone the resident can come to with problems. I have programs for them to attend, and I enforce the rules. Along with enforcing the rules, it is my responsibility to make sure my residents have a fun, are safe, and enjoy a friendly atmosphere to live in. In conclusion, please share your thoughts, wisdom, and guidance with us.

As a first year RA, I want our staff to thrive and to help make changes in our residence lives. I believe that if our staff meetings were more productive and everyone was on the same page, our staff would be more successful. Once again, how can we make meetings be more productive and have everyone on the same page? Finally, your help would be greatly appreciated.

Signed, First Year RA

DearĀ First Year RA:

I see that you really want your staff to strive and move forward. My suggestions are that you talk with your supervisor and let her know how you feel. Ask her for suggestions of how you can help make the meeting more productive. Ask your supervisor if she would be able to give out the agenda ahead of time, so that the staff will already know what is going on and can ask questions during the meeting.

My next suggestion would be to sit down with (let’s call your co-worker, Wilson) and talk with him. Get to know him, ask him how he is doing, and his job is going. Ask him about how he keeps track of his classes and about his organization skills. Say, “Wilson, I really like you and you are great to have on staff. But I have noticed that you don’t as ways know what is going on and that are staff is not always on the same page. I want our staff to strive and help make a difference in our resident’s lives. How can I help you to be organized?”

After this, suggest ways to help Wilson to stay organized. The big thing here is telling your boss and coworkers how you feel. Having open communication will really help your staff. You might send emails to your staff encouraging them to voice their opinions and present their ideas. Spencer Silver, referring to the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads, said, “If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.”

This is to suggest that making a staff meeting really fruitful doesn’t happen with a one-fix it suggestion; rather think of it a an ongoing engagement. In conclusion, communication is key in the work place and without communication it will be hard for your staff to grow. Also, working on communication can help show your residents that your staff has a united front.

Be patient with your co-workers not everyone has the same working style, keep an open mind. Finally, I hope you can take these suggestions and use them to help your staff. Good luck! And remember the Workplace Doctor’s oft repeated signature, Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.