Richard Fenton

Article Summary:

How to make the Retail or Department store meeting more effective and productive.

How to Hold Effective Store Meetings

In the arsenal of developmental tools available to retail store and department managers, none is as misused and/or as abused as the store meeting. The reality is that many store meetings are disappointing at best. Here are 21 specific ways to make your next meeting more effective... and more productive!

1) Have a meeting purpose. What are your objectives for your meeting? What will people be better at once the meeting is over? Never have a meeting without knowing what you expect the outcome of the meeting to be.

2) Have an agenda. You should never have a meeting without a detailed written agenda of exactly what you intend to accomplish.

3) Review your agenda and ask yourself: Is this meeting really necessary? Could the objectives of your meeting be accomplished just as effectively by communicating with associates on an individual basis? If the answer is yes, revise the agenda or cancel the meeting.

4) Make sure every store meeting has sales and/or customer service at its core Review the agenda you've developed. Ask yourself: Will this meeting really move the needle on sales and service in my store? If it doesn't, revise the agenda or cancel the meeting.

5) Prioritize Your Agenda. Organize your agenda from the important to least important topics. This way, if you do run out of time you will have focused your time and energy on the most important topics.

6) Go beyond "what" and focus on "how." Managers are notorious for telling their people what they want done (tasks to accomplish, goals to achieve) but not always so specific as to "how" people should get there (the skills and or activities necessary to achieve the goals!) Make sure every meeting includes some sales and/or customer service skill development activity that will help people build their skills.

7) Never address policy issues or procedural violations at a meeting, even if the entire staff is at fault. One of the age-old rules of management has always been, Praise in public, criticize in private. This goes for a meeting, too! Team performance is never enhanced by attacking people in public... ever. Sure, it might be easier to address the entire staff in a group session, but "easy" and "best" are two different animals. Addressing performance issues should always be done one-on-one, in the office. If the purpose of your meeting is to address policy violations or performance issues, think again.

8) Recognize excellent performance. On the flip side, reserve some portion of every meeting for the purposes of recognizing excellent performance.

9) Include some form of product knowledge training whenever possible. Even if it's three minutes, try to include some form of product knowledge training at every meeting.

10) Introduce new associates. Introducing new associates to the rest of the team at a meeting is a very effective way to get people to connect quickly. When possible, try to schedule new associates first day in a store on the day of a meeting.

11) Get others involved! Have someone teach something to the group at every opportunity. Remember, the best way to become an expert at something is to be forced to teach it to someone else.

12) Start on time... always! If you're like most managers you've already noticed that some people have a hard time getting to meetings on time. How many times have you found yourself standing there, looking at your watch, wondering where the other half of your store team is? Remember: the 80% of the group that does show up on time should never be penalized by the 20% who insist on coming late to meetings. Always start the meeting at the scheduled time. The best way to get that 20% number down quick is to...

13) Lock the door when the meeting begins, no matter who's missing! Closing the door when the meeting begins will draw the worst possible attention to latecomers. And if you really want to change their behavior, do not allow late comers to participate in the meeting at all. Require them to see a member of management at the beginning of their next shift to be briefed as to meeting content. When you start doing this, most people will only be late once.

14) Reward those who get there on time. Another way to get people to meetings on time is to reward them for doing so... some small token or prize will be all it takes for the late comers to feel left out, and for everyone else to feel special.

15) Be selective when it comes to deciding WHO should attend. The easiest way to have a meeting is to make it a "store" meeting, but is that necessarily the best way to go about it? It is often unnecessary to have every single associate attend a meeting. Before any meeting, ask yourself: Who should attend this meeting? And who shouldn't?

16) Use the meeting time for verification, not just introduction. Most meetings are used to introduce information or concepts to participants, but here's a twist; why not use your next meeting as an ending point to some training/learning activity? For example, require people to practice a new or established skill and utilize the meeting time to verify (through role play activities and/or testing of some sort) their mastery of the skill. It's amazing how hard people will practice a skill when they know they'll be asked to demonstrate it before their peers!

17) Separate "breakfast" from "business." What's a meeting without food? Well, actually, it's a more effective meeting! The first thing most of us think of when informed about an upcoming meeting is, "Who's bringing the donuts?" And while the social aspects of a meeting are important to group dynamics, bagels and donuts must be secondary to the business at hand. Always separate the "social, breakfast" part of the meeting from the business part. For example, if you are having a meeting from 9:00-9:45 a.m., explain that the food will be out and available between 8:30-8:55 a.m., and the business of the meeting will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. No one should be eating during the meeting itself.

18) Schedule the meeting to end 15 minutes before the store opening. Scrambling to get the store open at 30 seconds to ten (or, even worse, 30 seconds after ten!) should never happen. Plan any meeting to end 15 minutes before the store is scheduled to open, and stick to that schedule. Anything else is unprofessional.

19) Put those who do not participate in leadership roles for future meetings. One of the best way to get people involved (especially those who never seem to participate) is to involve them in leadership roles for the next meeting. Have them teach a skill or lead a discussion. You'll be amazed at the impact this can have!

20) Always end the meeting with a summary of agreed upon actions. Make sure that people leave the meeting with a clear sense of direction, that they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them?

21) Plan the follow up before you hold the meeting. If the meeting was important enough to have, then it's important to follow up. Don't wait until after the meeting to arrange for follow up, because you'll get overwhelmed with other priorities. Always plan how and when you will follow up on what you presented at your meeting before the meeting is held.

Quiz: In the world of retail, most meetings are...
a) unnecessary
b) unproductive
c) uninspiring
d) all of the above

The answer, unfortunately, is usually d) all of the above. Make sure this isn't the case for your next meeting!

Richard Fenton is a speaker, trainer, consultant and author that specializes in the retail industry. Richard's topics includes sales, sales management, leadership and customer service. For more information visit www.fentonwaltz.com or call (800) 290-5028.

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