In my first internship, staff meetings were a regular and helpful occurrence. They were relatively short (typically about 30 minutes long), held on Monday mornings and succeeded in keeping everyone up to date on the current team workload, scheduled due dates and pending deadlines.
In my current internship….lets just say the term “staff meeting” seems to be more akin to dropping the F-bomb at a child’s recital…it’s just not done. Ever.
I am, though, of the mind that well run and regular staff meetings, especially in an architectural (AEC) firm, are not just necessary but vital to the success of a team working together efficiently and remaining profitable on most, if not all, projects. But what I wonder is, what is the ideal “staff meeting scenario” for architects and designers?
I’d like to hear from you, the 4 or 5 people out there who waste time reading the crap I come up with. How are your firm staff meetings run? Do you have staff meetings? If so, and you could change one thing, or in some way make them “better”, how would you do so and why? Post your comments below and lets get this party started! 🙂
Our staff meetings come on an emergency-by-emergency basis. Just kidding. We don’t hold team meetings on a regulary scheduled basis, but we make it work somehow.
I think ultimately the relative success or failure of an office relies on simple communication. If a team can communicate effectively on a daily basis, perhaps there isn’t as much need for regularly scheduled team meetings. Though I suspect also that size of teams would matter greatly here as well. The larger the team, the greater the need for meetings to keep everyone on the same page moving forward.
If you were to hold team meetings, what do you think would be key to making them successful?
Jeremiah, when I worked for a firm we would have sporadic team meetings and they tended to last far too long. Now I am on my own, so I can meet with myself too often…except I tend to be distracted and doodle while I am talking to myself. Ideally a simple short meeting with a pre-established agenda and definitive ending time would work best for architects. Check out this video. It may be fodder for future blogs. http://bit.ly/gbPBan. Maybe we meet too often?
Haha! Dang, man you crack me up. I just finished the Ted Talk (love those by the way) and this guy is GENIUS! He takes it to the other end and simply says “let people work and they’ll get work done”. I like that idea. But then this assumes that everyone is engaged and energized about their work enough to actually get things done. This isn’t always the case.
Ultimately for me, it’s not so much about the “meeting” as it is about the “communication” between team members. I think of it like how to run an effective kitchen. Everyone needs to communicate with the head chef so the food arrives to the patron in a timely manner. For architects, this is exactly how we must operate also. Which is why my current office is so chaotic. You’re lucky to get half the story, and when you do it’s not the half you need to do your job, so mistakes are made and have to be changed on the fly which cause other mistakes to be either created or overlooked in order to get things published for a deadline. This is not how to run an efficient practice, in my mind.
I agree with Jason that meetings can be toxic, but it’s the communication that is key. Cheers.
The best semi-regular staff meetings I attended were held last thing on Friday, when nobody is in production mode anyhow. It was nice to come in Monday and have a clear picture of the week already in place.
EB, thanks for your comments. That’s an interesting point of view. I had always been leery of staff meetings at the end of the week assuming that 1) everyone would be focused on the weekend and not the upcoming work week and 2) everyone would mostly forget what was talked about come monday. But I see your point also. Maybe that is the correct balance – short to-the-point meetings at the end of the work week to prepare for the week ahead.
Thanks again. Cheers.
The firm I work in is like your first internship in that we have short staff meetings every Monday morning. We all put it on our calendars, and no one is allowed to schedule meetings out of the office during that time so that we have a good chance of getting everyone in the same place for a few minutes. It’s not really for the nitty gritty details of daily project communication but more for the logistical planning of who’s on first and what’s on second to make sure we have all the bases covered for the week.
– Richard J. Linsky, AIA
Thanks for your comments, Richard. It seems like there isn’t much “in between” on the issue of the architect staff meetings. It’s either seen as a necessary evil or an unnecessary evil or even a total pain in the rear. I still believe regular communication is key to the success of a team, no matter what business they’re in. Perhaps a formal staff meeting isn’t the ideal answer. Something less formal and more relaxed may be the ticket. Like a morning office coffee pow wow. Maybe not even at the office but at the cafe down the block? Something that makes everyone feel equal and necessary to the meeting itself.
as one of the people that reads this crap… As you know I work for one of the large AEC firms, however I work in one of the smallest groups within that company and we have weekly staff meetings. We review progress on projects and what the outstanding action items are, deadlines and due dates, and we also review proposal that are upcoming, ongoing or thing that are on the radar. This meeting occurs every Monday, just before lunch, that way we can use the lunch hour on some occasions to show project images, or review presentations if need be. Even though ours is a scheduled weekly event… the guys at Modative have a very simple, yet highly effective solution to staying organized and up to date on projects… here is the link to their blog post – http://www.modative.com/modern-architects-blog/bid/56388/How-an-Architecture-Firm-Stays-Organized.
Oh I’ve seen Modative’s “charts” and I friggin LOVE their system. It’s simply brilliant and simple and straightforward and always in your face right where you can see it. Now, speaking to your own staff meetings, do you find them effective? Is there anything you might want to improve on or think could be done better or more effectively? Would your team run as smoothly if you didn’t have a regularly scheduled staff meeting?
and I certainly appreciate that you “read this crap”. 😉
Hi guys, we came across your discussion today and appreciate everyone’s insight and, of course, your compliments! We are always striving to improve upon our system. We are big believers in making sure our meetings don’t seem like a chore. We try to keep it focused, yet relaxed. Not having regularly scheduled meetings would be detrimental to our operations and our collaborative approach. Keep up the good work! – Team Modative
Christian, thank you for stopping in and offering your perspective to the discussion. I for one agree that regular, informal meetings for staff, especially teams, can help to keep everyone focused and on track with a project. I’m a big fan of what you all are doing at Modative. I hope you’ll come back often and add to the discussions.
Jeremiah – I enjoyed reading your post and the comments. Where I work the office is so small we communicate on an hourly basis. We have a open drafting area where we all sit in close proximity so we always are in tune with what everyone is working on. This system works well and avoids the need for regularly scheduled meetings. As you say, it is about communication!
Thanks for the comments. My current office is similar to what you describe. However we’re in and out of the office a good bit on projects so it can be hard to stay in contact. For this reason we have a weekly monday morning staff meeting just to bring everyone up to speed and update our schedule for the week as well. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes and helps us all stay on the same page.