It’s a classic scene. Practitioners daydream, sigh, or start to nod off. Managers carry on regardless, frustrated that no one is offering any ideas or even properly listening to what’s going on.
Almost nothing gets done, only more problems get created. To-do-lists grow and grow.
Does this sound familiar? It really shouldn’t. Staff meetings are an invaluable time to get key information to your staff, focus on their professional development and stay on top of everything that is going on in the setting. So how do you make them more productive, more efficient, and less of a time-drain? Let’s see shall we?
Most early years settings hold regular staff meetings once a month, usually for around an hour. Goals tend to be split into three categories:
An hour could seem quite short but research says that people in professions where they have long days with a lot of human interaction find it hard to focus for much longer.
So how do you cram everything you need to discuss into just one hour then? Well, it all starts with getting more organised. Here are some of our ideas on how to do just that.
1. Prepare an agenda and try to stick to it
Take careful notes during the staff meeting to get feedback on how well your agenda aligns with the actual needs of the nursery and your staff.
Ending up with heated discussions on a certain topic? Ask your staff if you need to allocate some more time on a separate occasion to deal with it specifically. Don’t overdo the feedback here. Just stop and ask: “Do you want to meet separately over this?”
2. Keep it focused and targeted
Make sure that cases which don’t involve the whole nursery team get dealt with in smaller groups. If a member of staff seems to go on and on about a certain incident or is getting a little emotional and personal about it, for example, you can invite them to a one-on-one to clear things up in a smaller setting.
If the issue is getting personal, dealing with it when the whole staff team are there isn’t going to work. What’s more, it’s going to end up derailing the meeting. Remember, getting the most out of this small meeting is all about sticking to the plan.
3. Is the purpose of your meeting getting blurry?
According to a study published by the University of Nebraska on the psychology of meeting purposes, regular staff meetings tend to either be ‘instrumental’ or ‘content-based’. What this means is that participants of staff meetings either want to solve a task (instrumental) or discuss a certain topic (content-based). It is good if you decide in advance which way you want to go.
Our advice is that you pay close attention to the needs of your staff. Practitioners are in the company of children their whole working day and they have to be on their toes at all times. If your staff meetings turn into a wind-down or a social event, maybe it’s time to encourage your staff to meet socially outside work. You can initiate such events yourself and see how your staff team turn into a tight-knit bunch as a result.
Nicky, who works at a busy private nursery in central London, says staff meetings never last longer than 30 minutes at her setting, because her boss is so superbly organised.
She lays aside everything urgent on the one hand and anything that needs more detailed attention on the other – these things get addressed in different setups.
The weekly staff meeting is for regular business, which is usually completed in about 20 minutes after which “staff casually go into a more chatty mindset”. The weekly meetings are complemented by routine checks at the start of each day, which are quick updates of a few minutes each to make sure things go off without a hitch in the plans.
- Nicky, Private Day Nursery, Central London
Feeling ready to get those meetings on the straight and narrow? Here are some quick tips that you can introduce when you’re ready to make sure that your regular staff meetings fly.
Personal and professional development
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.