Most people dread meetings because they perceive them to be a waste of time and extremely boring. However, a carefully planned and orchestrated meeting can be one that staff look forward to, that creates a culture for success, that offers some excellent team building opportunities and is productive at teaching your team the skills they need to excel in their position.
So if you manage or work with a team, read the info below. Bottom line though - you've got to figure out how to make your meetings somewhat enjoyable and fun or else no one will come. So check out this video clip from our team meeting yesterday and see how I took an otherwise boring review of our company mission, vision and competitive advantage and made it silly and fun by splitting our team into groups that each had to come up with a company commercial. After you're done watching, review all the info below and start planning your next team gathering.
If you can't view the clip above, click on the link below to watch.
Getting them There: First, we schedule our meetings one year in advance and distribute this list to our team so they can schedule the meetings into their dayplanners. This way, if they are planning a vacation and are flexible with dates, they can work around our team meetings. Our company meetings are once per month for two hours. Second, our meetings are mandatory for all team members. It’s important to note however, that in order to make meetings mandatory we have to pay our team for their time. So we have instituted a meeting wage which is just minimum wage and it enables us to at least compensate our team for their time. If someone can’t make it to the meeting, they are still responsible for meeting with us or their direct supervisor. This ensures they are up-to-date with all the meeting information and since everyone knows they are going to have to meet anyways, they might as well come to the team meeting and have more fun. Last, offer food and they will at least come to eat!
Agenda: In order to ensure you make the best use out of a meeting, it is important to be organized, plan ahead and know how you will spend the allocated time. Then create an agenda to help everyone stay focused and to ensure the meeting stays on track. At each meeting, we try to ensure we include the following topics:
Social Time: The first 5-10 minutes of each meeting, we allow our team to mingle, chat and share anything with the rest of the team. You would think when people work 30 plus hours per week together they would know everything about each other. But that’s not the case. During work hours, our team is focused on clients and often don’t get enough quality time to spend with the rest of the team. So during meetings we allow our team to share what’s going on in their life (ie. I’m training for a marathon, I’m graduating next week, We’re pregnant, It’s my 12th Anniversary etc.). This helps to create team camaraderie and to develop great friendships. When your team likes each other, if they ever leave, they're not just leaving a job but multiple friendships. This can help reduce turnover.
Passion & Purpose: We also allocate a few minutes to read any cards, emails, or letters that clients have recently sent us bragging about one of our team members, listing all the results they’ve achieved since working with us and how we’ve helped to change their life. We find it extremely valuable to regularly remind our team why we’re here and why we do what we do. It’s important to remind them that it’s more than just an exercise program but in fact, we really are dramatically improving people’s lives. When we are all reminded of this vision, it makes it easier to come to work and give it everything you’ve got.
Customer Service: The Personal Training industry is a customer-service based industry and any business who grasps this and practices it regularly will succeed. So we ensure our team understands that the customer is the boss and they must have a ‘drop everything for the client’ attitude. So at meetings we spend time to discuss how we can all pay attention to the little details that set us apart from others. We brainstorm on customer service initiatives we can implement. We may have someone read an article or book on customer service and then summarize it for the group.
Sales: As business owners, we know how important it is to be financially viable and successful. So we ensure we allocate time to role play phone calls, tours and how to help our staff overcome objections that clients have that are hindering them from getting started with us and achieving their goals. Most people don’t enjoy role playing but recognize how valuable it is. If you can get good in this kind of awkward, unnatural environment, imagine how good you’ll be in person. We may also have someone read a book or article on sales or listen to a Sales DVD and then give a report at the staff meeting.
“In the Know”: Many employees at various companies complain that they feel they are out of the loop. They don’t know what’s going on and are often blind-sided by client questions. The worst response you don’t want a staff using is “I don’t know, I just work here”. So we always spend time making sure everyone on our team knows what’s going on and what’s coming up. We’ll review upcoming promotions, staff and client incentives, upcoming seminars, client events, staff events, travel schedules etc. This open communication is critical to ensure you have a team who takes full ownership of the day-to-day operations and success of events, incentives and your business in general.
The above meeting components are critical for all members of our team. Once we’ve covered these general areas, we’ll often split into various departments and cover issues specific to that department. For example, the trainers and group fitness instructors might split up and someone might present some new exercises using a new, innovative fitness product. They might discuss a special population or medical concern and review exercise and program modifications that need to be made. The CSRs might split off and discuss some scheduling or computer issues. Or they might role play how to deal with an upset client.
We’ll often finish the meeting maybe watching a fun, inspirational video or just thanking people for their time and their willingness to make it to the meetings to help us solidify as a team.
Meetings are a time and financial investment that we feel are worth it to the success of our business and to our fabulous team environment that we believe is second to none. It costs us about $16/person totaling $640 in payroll costs per meeting (we have 40 team members between our two locations) and about $150 in food, not to mention our own personal time. But believe us, if we weren’t convinced it worked, we wouldn’t do it.
Yours in health, fitness and business,