How To Get More Out Of Your Church Staff Meetings
I was recently reading a fascinating Harvard Business Review article that mentioned how most staff meetings are optimized for extroverts. As is the case with much of life, the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease – i.e. the more vocal members of your church staff are likely to get more attention paid to their input. "Hey," you might say, "The people who are quiet just need to jump in and speak up!"
True, but what you may be forgetting is that some people simply don’t process new information verbally or jump in with whatever comes to their minds. Introverts are usually internal processors and need time to process new information before they give input. And you need the input from these internal processors on your church staff. While verbal processors often excel in thinking on their feet and brainstorming, it’s those internal processors who, after thinking through the issue at hand, usually excel in pinpointing potential challenges, weeding out impractical or inefficient ideas, quality control, and preventing mistakes.
Church leaders, don’t make the mistake of unintentionally silencing these voices. Optimize your church staff meetings for both extroverts and introverts with these four simple steps:
1. Ensure it’s a safe space.
This may seem like a given – especially for a church staff – but you might be surprised at how many employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up in meetings; and it might be due to more than introversion. Are ideas ever publically shot down during your staff meetings? Laughed at? Do any church leaders ever “strong-arm” a meeting or their agenda? If any of these things happen during your church staff meetings, your first order of business is to shut this behavior down and work toward an encouraging, collaborative staff culture.
2. Share meeting agendas beforehand.
If you want an internal processor to be able to give input during a meeting, then you need to share the details about the subject beforehand. It can be as simple as a quick email several hours before the meeting saying, “Team, today at 3pm, we’re going to discuss our current parking situation. Our goal is to provide a short-term solution while saving money for our new parking lot. Please come prepared with several ideas on how we could do this.” This way, the internal processors aren’t surprised by new information in the meeting; rather, their cognitive wheels are already turning, they can do some research if needed, and they know what they want to say in the meeting.
3. Give the introverts the chance to take the floor.
During the actual meeting, your awesome extroverts are likely to be the first to speak up with their ideas, but an introvert probably won’t fight to be heard. Once everyone has had their say, proactively seek the voices of anyone who hasn’t spoken up yet. “From those we haven't heard from yet, are there any possible solutions from your perspective that we haven’t already covered?”
4. Provide an avenue to give additional input after the meeting.
Often, once a meeting is over, that’s it - everything has been decided, and we all move on. However, internal processors often do the bulk of their processing after a discussion. If it isn’t obvious already, I’m definitely an internal processor, and I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve left a meeting or finished a conversation, thought about it for the next couple hours (or days!) and then had to ask to revisit the topic because only now are my thoughts gathered and I feel I can voice my input effectively.
While I am fully appreciative and supportive (and, let’s be honest, a little jealous) of my extroverted friends’ ability to think on their feet and come to their conclusions so quickly, you will double the amount of invaluable input if, after a staff meeting, you say, “Everyone, continue to think about what we’ve discussed. If you have more ideas, email me with them by tomorrow at noon.” Provide a timeframe and a clear avenue for any ideas your church staff comes up with after the meeting.
Church leaders, once you’ve mastered this in your church staff meetings, also be sure that your leadership team represents both sides of the extroversion/introversion spectrum for optimal church leadership and growth. Just as in the body of Christ we need every part, so too on your church staff you need every perspective to function most effectively.
How can you lead more effective church staff meetings in the future?
For more insight into running effective meetings, download our free Comprehensive Checklist For Meetings That Work.