I’m sure you’ve seen a few memes, a TikTok video or heard someone say “this could’ve been an email” in response to a work meeting. While it’s meant to bring humor to those frustrated with spending hours each week in conferences—in-person or virtual—there’s a valid point behind the joke. There should always be a reason for these meetups and a clear agenda, so it doesn’t dissolve into a pointless hour (or more) that wastes everyone’s time.
There are many types of meetings that are necessary for self-storage business cohesiveness and growth. Any time a company goes through a restructuring or big change, it’s essential to assemble everyone and tell them what’s happening and how they’ll be affected. There are also celebratory ones that can boost office morale. Training is another type that falls under the required category.
Then there are office gatherings that are redundant, boring and totally unnecessary. We’ve all endured more than a few of these in our careers! Anyone who’s in charge of scheduling and leading any kind meeting needs to clearly understand the why and what of the event so they’re productive, rather than a drain on everyone’s time.
The pandemic has greatly changed the way most companies conduct meetings. Not only has virtual technology replaced many face-to-face events, but it has led self-storage owners and supervisors to revamp their chats with employees so they’re more effective. If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to reassess your approach to communicating with your employees, plus how they talk with each other. Here are some pointers to consider before scheduling your next group chat.
The why. Before sending out the invite, you should first determine why a meeting is needed. This can be tricky because you might think many things are essential to share. Of course, it’s vital to keep everyone in the loop, but is an all-staff conference the best way to do this? Particularly if you’re pulling them away from their job duties. Perhaps what you need to say can be an email.
Many companies, including mine and even some in the self-storage industry, are using prerecorded video to share messages. It’s an opportunity for a company leader to provide essential information in a convenient platform that’ll update everyone while helping them feel connected to the company.
The frequency. Few of use have a great desire to sit through hours of meetings every week. We have work to do! This why frequency matters. Perhaps a half-hour group get-together each week is ideal for you and your staff. Maybe it’s monthly or even quarterly if you lean on other types of communication. If these conferences become boring because there’s no content to cover, then you’re likely holding them too often. Conversely, if you can’t cover everything you need to in one meeting, you might need to add more to the schedule. Aim for regularity so everyone knows what to expect.
Also, consider your timing. A 4 p.m. conference on a Friday won’t be well received. Neither will one scheduled near a facility manager’s busiest time of the week. Finding a time slot that’ll be perfect for everyone is unlikely, but keep your staff’s schedule in mind.
The agenda. This is the trickiest part. A well-planned meeting is a must, or it’ll likely go off track and nothing will be accomplished. As with frequency, staff should have an idea of what the meeting is about. Whenever possible, send them a summary or even bullet-point agenda. You should also invite them to contribute subject matter they’d like to discuss.
During the meeting, stick to the topic. There will always be items that come up that aren’t germane or specific to just one employee or facility. Acknowledge these moments but address them later so you don’t interrupt the current agenda. As the meeting wraps up, be sure to ask the group if anyone has questions, concerns or anything to add.
The follow-up. Send a short email thanking everyone for their time and input. You might need to add information about next steps or other pertinent information. Keep your summary short and to the point!
Workday get-togethers can be fruitful and invigorating for staff. They can be an avenue for collaboration, to share valuable information, improve skills and even empower employees. Or they can be totally draining and even demoralizing for staff. Aim to make them informative and engaging. When you do, “this meeting could’ve been an email” will be just another joke, rather than an evaluation of your business.