When I had staff meetings at the gym or team meetings while I was teaching Kindergarten, it was important to me to create a fully engaging environment where everyone had ‘buy-in’ to make the program great. It was not an option to sit without contributing some ideas to our meetings. Ten brains are better than one. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and only see the same things, so using your staff is a valuable way to keep things fresh and engaging for everyone.
The week before the meeting, I would ask everyone to bring five ideas for one of the topics we were going to address. Sometimes, it was five new ways we could teach a forward roll, but other times, it was five new themes we haven’t tried yet.
Your staff can serve as an excellent resource to grow your preschool program. Don’t forget that when you are not coaching, they are! They have experiences with parents, gymnasts, and staff that bring a different perspective.
That means they have new ideas about things that you maybe haven’t thought of before. Team planning is a vital way to make sure everyone has an investment in the success of your preschool program. Asking coaches to bring their new, fresh perspectives and ideas results in coaches who care, feel heard, and know they matter at your gym.
Here are a few guidelines to start asking your staff for their ideas:
1.Give Them Time
Your staff is busy and so are you. Give them a few days to come up with ideas before the meeting so no one feels rushed or stressed. Staff members who need that extra processing time will appreciate it. Others may love to work under pressure. They will write their ideas ten minutes before the meeting.
You need to honor both styles of personal brainstorming and try not to judge the one who is frantically writing before the meeting. It works for her and she probably has ingenious ideas like the rest of your staff.
2. Be Specific
You can’t just ask, “How can we make things more awesome around here?” Your job as the director or owner is to narrow it down to specifics like, “How can we improve our client’s experience the first time they come into the gym?” Or if your lesson plans are getting a little stale, ask the staff to bring five ideas for new preschool themes.
Ask them to bring a specific number of ideas, but it has to be more than three. The first three ideas are going to be more obvious, but after that, the creativity really starts to flow and out come the truly unique solutions and ideas. Plus, it gives people a tangible goal to meet and eliminates the guesswork about what is required.
3. Share Out Loud
As each staff member shares her ideas, ask one person to record all the ideas (yes, even the wacky ones).
This takes more time than a traditional staff meeting, so be mindful of the time. As you run the meeting, it is important to keep to your time schedule. Maybe you don’t do this at every meeting, but try it! You might be surprised by the results and the awesome ideas that will make the gym better.
Another way to share that is less intimidating than standing up and sharing in front of a group is providing sticky notes and asking your staff to record their ideas, then stick them up on the wall. After everyone has stuck their ideas on the wall, have a quiet five-minute ‘gallery walk’ where everyone reads all of the ideas without talking. When time is up, have an open discussion about what they read, noticed and liked. Pick out the top ideas and run with them!
That leads us to...You can’t take every suggestion, but be open to taking some.
Sometimes, as owners and directors, it is difficult to let go and try other people’s ideas. You feel it is ‘your’ program or ‘your’ gym. I understand that feeling, but when you use your employees as a resources, it becomes a stronger, more successful ‘our’ gym.
This will increase employee buy-in and also create a culture in which your staff is invested in the success of the gym. It will build and boost morale and will make you more approachable when there is a real problem.
4. Be Grateful
Thank your insightful and creative staff for being willing to share their ideas with you. People can feel very vulnerable when sharing their ideas in front of a group. Take care to nurture a culture that is accepting and grateful rather than judgey and intimidating.
Being in gratitude will make your team feel at ease and valued for their contributions. You hired them for a reason, for something you saw in them and knew they would rise to the occasion. Let them. With your leadership and gratitude, they will feel empowered by being part of a collaborative team, rather than a lead and follow style organization.
Get the list and give it a try! Download your copy of: 8 Ideas for Collaborative Staff Meetings