Your staff is working 12-hour shifts, your own reports on patient accountability were due yesterday and you have plans for a night out with your best friends. So how do you run the mandatory staff meeting so that everybody gets what they need – and in record time? Whether you’re under that kind of time crunch with a stressed-out staff or your nurses’ staff meeting is slated for a period of normal downtime, you can use the same techniques to run an efficient, successful meeting every time.
Prepare an agenda ahead of time and distribute a copy to everyone who will attend. Give the nurses a day or two to read and consider your list so they can make suggestions prior to the meeting if they need any changes or additions. When everyone knows what to expect, you reduce the chance of last-minute major issues popping up.
Start the meeting on time and regulate the amount of discussion you allow for each topic. Set an ending time and check the time as you move through the meeting to make sure you’re sticking to the schedule. This is critical when you have patients waiting and treatments to deliver.
Take control of the meeting right from the start. Give an opening statement that strongly suggests the focus and goals of the meeting. When you clearly set the tone and pace with your forceful opening, everyone should follow suit – or be too afraid to stir the pot.
Leave a few extra minutes in the meeting for unexpected items and overly lengthy discussions that might derail a meeting schedule, but keep a time-limit on those, as well.
Use the meetings as a place where nurses can talk about issues that affect their work. Nursing is a challenging career and you’ll find that your staff is much more cooperative during meetings when they have a place on the agenda to air grievances and look for positive solutions.
- Talk to a key staff member or two and collaborate with them to deter the naysayers – those nurses who always want to go on and on in a negative manner. Tell your conspirators that if and when the outright complaining and negativity starts, you’ll call on one of them to shift to a positive angle.
- Since you’re setting the pace and directing the discussions, you don’t want to lose anyone. You need to ensure that everyone leaves the meeting with clear directions and understanding. To prevent a long question-and-answer period from nurses who need clarification or repetition of a topic, appoint someone to take minutes of the meeting. Then you can direct the questioners to a copy of the minutes if they have any questions about what’s been covered.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."