Strategies for successful meetings

Nurse Leader Insider, February 5, 2007

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In today's hectic healthcare environment, with short staffing, high acuity, and information overload, it is the manager's responsibility to create meetings that are valuable and not held just for the sake of having the obligatory meeting.

Keep information brief
Everyone suffers from information overload. The manager should triage information so that nurses only have to read information that is truly relevant to their practice.

An easy way to do this is to have a small notebook titled R-R-R. This stands for

  • Read (the information is mandatory and all staff must read it)
  • Respond (after reading, staff should initial it, as proof they have read it)
  • Remove (information stays in the book for only two weeks, after which the manager removes it)

If you keep the information in the book brief and meaningful, then staff members will have little difficulty reading 10 or fewer pieces of paper over a two-week period. This practice will preclude the need for memos stuck around the unit with "Read!" written on them in red marker. Educate all staff so that they know that the one place to find required reading is in the R-R-R book.

Have a second notebook in which to keep other information. Include two or three sections, with titles such as "FYI" (unit information and interesting articles), or "Education" (information about upcoming educational opportunities). The book should be cleaned out monthly and replaced with fresh information.

This method of sharing information means that the staff meeting can now be devoted to a meaningful dialogue around real issues that face the staff, or for making decisions about the unit's processes.

Try different meeting styles
Consider holding an informal meeting once a month that has no agenda, but that lets staff come by just to talk, ask questions, clarify rumors, and so on. To break the ice, have snacks or treats on hand. Also be sure to schedule meetings so that nurses from all shifts may attend.

These meetings may involve discussion of heavy issues related to the organization or the latest evidence-based practice, or may sometimes just be time for a break and food during the busy day. What is important is that you offer staff access to you and a chance to discuss what is important to them.

Managers often feel they don't have time to offer such access to staff, but a little effort in this area goes a long way.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from HCPro's book "A Practical Guide to Managing the Multigenerational Workforce: Skills for Nurse Managers." Click here for more information.

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