10 Traits of Bad Staff Meetings

All of us have been present at bad staff meetings. Many of us have led bad staff meetings! Instead of accepting it as the norm, have you ever considered changing some things up to improve the time spent together?

Whether your meetings happen at a company or church, poorly organized meetings can waste time and deplete morale. Your stressful meetings might even be experienced within a volunteer group of which you are committed. Regardless of the context, we could all probably improve.

Here are 10 traits of bad staff meetings. Attempt to address these items, and you might just find that your time together is more productive and pleasant.

  1. Lacking Direction – Without an agenda, you are wasting everyone’s time. It can be printed off if that helps, but the leader needs a clear purpose for the meeting instead of allowing everyone to go around the room and talk about whatever they want to talk about. If you lack direction for where you want to go, you will never arrive where you need to be. If you don’t have a reason to meet, don’t meet.
  2. Distracted Participants – When everyone is off in their own digital world while the meeting is taking place, members miss critical information and require things to be repeated. If everyone can focus on the task at hand, the meetings should be quicker.
  3. Unprepared Staff – It is near impossible to finish the meeting well if you don’t start it prepared. If you are asked to have something ready for the meeting, bring what you need and be on time.
  4. Apparent Disunity – Nothing defeats a unified team like warring factions within it. Beware of side conversations, disapproving glances, and secret messages being sent during the meeting. If the mood feels dysfunctional, you are going to have to address it.
  5. Destructive Criticism – A staff needs to be able to share constructive criticism, but never be the person who insults, interrogates, or intimidates another staff member. Using your words to demean another will not accomplish a worthy goal.
  6. Abstract Decisions – If you have been talking about an issue for hours, make sure you walk away with an agreed decision. It is incredibly frustrating to leave a meeting feeling as if you agonized over a decision but unable to articulate what the result was.
  7. Unclear Assignments – If it is everybody’s responsibility, it is nobody’s responsibility. It might be a great idea, but who is going to do it? You should never leave the meeting without a clear indication of who is responsible for what. This step equips your staff for productivity and accountability.
  8. Undisciplined Schedule – Meetings need to have a clear start time and end time. When the ending is loose, it allows the meetings to go on way past the time needed. Don’t allow anyone’s agenda to dictate the meeting and be respectful of everyone’s time.
  9. Late Changes – One of the most frustrating elements of a meeting is working for a long time on a possible solution only to have someone throw a monkey wrench in at the last minute. If you see a problem with the direction, speak up early rather than later. Your idea might be what is needed, and you don’t want to waste everyone’s time in a bad direction. It might not be a good idea, and you may just need to keep it to yourself.
  10. Misplaced Topics – Don’t ever take up the entire staff’s time for what you need to say to another person. Too many meetings have been hijacked by one person telling another person something they could discuss outside of the meeting time. It might be a needed topic, but don’t misplace it into the staff meeting.

I am sure there are other traits of bad staff meetings, but these should at least get you started. Look at your contributions to your staff and see how you can improve these times!