The foundation of teamwork is trust. In any office setting, pulling a group of individuals into a working, well functioning unit is far from simple. Although humans are social animals and naturally gravitate to working together, we are also wary of our territory and cautious of our position. To obtain the objective of getting employees to confidently relax into the work setting the environment must encompass trust in the organization and in the other team members, including those in upper management. In an atmosphere of trust, employee retention and motivation are easier to achieve. A happy and properly motivated staff will naturally contribute discretionary effort to their work out of a sense of pride at contributing to the greater good.
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When properly conducted, a Monday morning staff meeting, where everyone gathers together to share work plans for the upcoming week, is one of the best ways to foster internal cohesion. In an office of travel planners and support staff, it gives everyone an opportunity to ease into the week, to hear what others are coping with and what prospects the office has before it. A solid office meeting can put everyone in the mindset of being in a common situation, pulling in the same direction. It is also one of the best opportunities for the individuals in the office to learn to trust their co-workers. When plans for the week are openly discussed, when team leaders properly set expectations for the group, when the staff has an opportunity to openly discuss issues, trust has an opportunity to flourish. Here are a few tips to effectively incorporate a staff meeting into your marketing plan.
- Lay a few ground rules. Staff meetings are an opportunity to develop and foster constructive, creative work environments. Let the participants know you anticipate that they will engage each other constructively. In that context, encourage everyone to express opinions and ideas. Let them know that staff meetings are a good time to discuss problems in a constructive manner so that the group as a whole can work toward a solution. Assure the staff you want to hear from them and that they will hear from you as well in an open, non-threatening discussion of how to create a better work environment. After all, you spend roughly 2000 hours each year with your staff – getting along and being happily engaged in the work environment is pretty important.
- The office head should be a strong, fair moderator. Without censoring, moderate the discussion within very broad guidelines. Seek the most fair route to allowing everyone to be heard, but step up to the plate to discourage overt criticism of personalities or others.
- Use staff meetings as an opportunity to talk about big goals. The company mission statement should always be top of mind. Once a month or so, ask “How are we doing?” and let the staff tell you. Encourage everyone to speak openly about how well they think the company is doing in meeting its highest goals.
- Have everyone discuss their plans for the week. What does their workload entail? Any special issues or problems? Anything exciting happening? New clients or new destinations? Any problems lurking about for which others might have a solution or suggestions?
- Don’t limit staff meetings to “happy talk”. To foster trust, allow employees to also express complaints or concerns, but moderate intelligently without censoring. Listen to everyone without criticizing, and let them know that they are being heard. Listen openly. Allow people to fully express themselves without becoming defensive. Try to understand the position from where every team member is coming. If a complaint has validity, is likely that others will also express their concerns. Ask for the group to help develop a solution for any problem, to offer suggestions. Make a note to follow up on any progress the following meeting.
- Don’t go negative on ideas or suggestions. Spend time with each employee’s comments and give them due consideration. Don’t allow overt criticism of others.
- Spend some time praising good work. Let everyone know how much their contributions are appreciated. Give credit where it is due. No special occasion is necessary to let others know how much you value their participation with you. Everyone wants recognition for their effort. Give it to them. It’s nearly as important as that twice monthly check.
A regular, scheduled staff meeting can be an event to which everyone looks forward, an opportunity to bond before a hectic week. Properly orchestrated, they are an effective management tool for bringing an office together in more ways than one.
Tomorrow – Hidden Talents