As a jewelry retailer, keeping employees up-to-date on everything from new collections to customer service issues is critical. Emails and one-on-one chats are great for managing a multitude of daily matters. But retail consultants also consider regular staff meetings indispensible to a successful business.
Of course, many people loathe meetings. At one time or another, we’ve all suffered through a boring, even pointless, one. And because jewelry store staffers often are paid hourly, lengthier meetings can be costly for proprietors.
But creating tightly focused agendas that encourage staff interaction can result in meetings that boost morale and revenue.
Most important to that mission: Leave the lecturing to the college professors. “I’ve seen too many meetings where people stand up and talk about what you could have read in a memo,” says Doug Fleener, president of retail consulting firm Dynamic Experiences Group. “If you’ve got new products or a new process taking place, put that out [in writing] in advance so that the time in meetings can be dedicated to role-playing and answering questions. The meeting has to have high value to make it worth it.” And employee engagement and interaction is the glue to any good meeting. When people aren’t involved, Fleener adds, “it’s a one-way conversation.”
The best meetings are meticulously planned and stick to a clock, says retail expert/author Rick Segel: “Too many meetings [are] not planned. They have four subjects to cover; they go on and on. The first subject is covered, but not the others. There has to be a time limit.”
Think about your goals before creating the agenda. “Ask yourself, ‘What are we going to be doing better, different, more of, less of?’?” says Fleener. “Build your agenda around that.”
And for longer meetings, consider providing your employees with a written agenda in advance, says Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a retail author, consultant, and speaker. “Think back to your classroom days,” she says. “If you have a syllabus or something that identifies what to expect upfront, it helps when you’re walking into it.”
Lengthy meetings, however, should be rarities. “You have to be realistic with scheduling,” says Leinbach Reyhle, “but a half-hour powwow session—that’s fantastic. If you strive to do something…with more engagement, that can be between an hour and two hours.”
Segel, meanwhile, thinks meetings “should not last any longer than 45 minutes maximum” because “people get bored. When you plan the meeting, make it interesting. And make sure people don’t come out of a session of [pure] complaining. Focus on the positives.”
As the moderator, your tone also should be upbeat and lively. “Your delivery needs to be lighthearted,” says Leinbach Reyhle. “A lot of employees appreciate [positive] meetings, because without them they can feel lost.”
Whatever the topic, strive to make it personal and fun. “Weekly staff meetings can be extremely routine and boring,” says Fleener. “So you need to play games, make it fun. People should leave feeling inspired. Make it something people want to come to rather than something people have to come to.”
Meet & Greet
Consider these best practices from some of the world’s most innovative businesses when you’re planning your next staff meeting.
• Bring in speakers. Virgin founder Richard Branson (above) often brings in experts to speak on different topics to get his teams thinking in “new, exploratory ways.”
• Don’t wait for a meeting to make decisions. Google never wants to slow down its stable of big thinkers, so it instituted this policy in 2011 to speed up its management velocity.
• Keep meetings small. Apple’s Steve Jobs always kept gatherings small. Everyone there was expected to contribute—no spectators allowed.
• Respect people’s time. Jay Chiat, cofounder of powerhouse ad agency Chiat/Day, would bounce employees from the conference room when he realized they weren’t going to get anything out of the meeting.
• Huddle up. If time is of the essence, consider a stand-up meeting. New Orleans–based Reily Foods Co. has one for just a few minutes every morning.
(Meeting: Thomas Barwick; Branson: FilmMagic, both Getty Images)