7 Sure Ways to Waste Your Team’s Time

I remember when a retailer told me that staff meetings were a waste of time. Now I have heard many excuses why retailers don’t do them – but I usually don’t hear that they aren’t worth doing at all.

So when I dug a little deeper, it became clear that this retailer was making some very common mistakes that did indeed turn their meetings into a big waste of time.

I’ll share them below so you can avoid them, but first I need to address something important…

Their biggest problem was in the perspective that they had about the people that worked for them.

Notice that they called it a ‘staff meeting’. I never had a staff. Ever.

I always had a team and had ‘team meetings’.

The difference between those two words is huge, trust me when I say that you want a team!

But this retailer is not alone in thinking that team meetings are a waste of time, and after working with thousands of retailers over the years, I have narrowed this issue down to 7 key mistakes retailers make that DO turn their team meetings into a waste of time:

Top 7 Team Meeting Mistakes 

#1: Meetings last longer than an hour 

The brain can only absorb what the butt or ZOOM attention span can withstand. And that is usually just about an hour of sitting! Keeping meetings short and sweet is crucial.

#2: Feeding your team during the meeting

I never provided food during my team meetings – only drinks. This is a business meeting, not a party. I want everyone focused on the content, not licking their fingers – food can be a great distraction!

I understand that you feel like you are caring for your team by feeding them, and maybe you’re hoping that it will make the meeting more worth their inconvenience – BUT this is a mindset shift you need to make.

Your team meeting is a resource for your team – a chance for them to learn, improve their skills and stay informed. And you ARE paying them for their time.

That said there is nothing wrong with providing food or snacks after the meeting is completed to thank your team for their commitment to excellence!

#3: Wasting everyone’s time by not having an agenda

You are paying the team to show up and you owe it to them to be as productive as possible. That ONLY happens by having an agenda. Then you MUST act like the boss and keep everyone on track.

#4: Wasting meeting time by not using a “Parking Lot”

Tell your team that you are going to follow the agenda, and then be proactive and introduce the concept of a Parking Lot.

When someone brings up an issue that isn’t on the agenda, tell them that it will be put into the Parking Lot. This is a holding place where you “park” topics that will be addressed later.

Write the topic down so that it isn’t forgotten about. Be sure to look the person in the eye and tell them that you will get back to them within 48 hours to tell them when you will be able to meet with them to discuss their concern.

#5: Trying to cover too much information and being disrespectful by running over the allotted time

It is a common mistake. You will find that when you run regular team meetings you will know how much content is needed to fill an hour. Because you are holding them regularly, you know you can cover additional information next time.

#6: Allowing the team meeting to become a group whining session

Put your foot down and tell your team that this is not allowed. You care about them. You respect their time and attention. If they have concerns you want to know what they are, but then put them into the Parking Lot.

The purpose of a team meeting is to share information and do skill-building that will result in growth.

I believe that your store should be a “No Whining” zone. When my kids used to whine, I would say that I couldn’t hear them. I did the same thing with my team! It wasn’t a problem for long.

#7: Ignoring the fact that your team members are SALESpeople

As salespeople, your team members are responsible for sales. Without exception, every team meeting should include time dedicated to improving their skills. It is your responsibility as their leader to give them tools to help them do their job better!

One good way of accomplishing this is to ask each team member to take one meeting and role play a common objection that they get from customers. It gets everyone involved and addresses the actual situations that they face.

Why You SHOULD have team meetings

Team meetings are so important now, as you share information to keep your staff and customers safe and work through any changing business practices.

Holly, one of my private clients, put off doing regular team meetings for years. “There is no way I can get everyone together at the same time” she told me. “It’s mostly me running the store, and they’re all good people. I don’t have any problems with them!”

Well after some gentle nudging from me, she decided the benefits were compelling enough, so she started keeping regular meetings. And something pretty exciting happened…

On our last one-on-one coaching call, I challenged her to come up with a product or bundle that would retail for about $250, which is definitely a stretch from her average sale.

Holly decided to present the challenge to her team during their next meeting – and within 5 seconds, one of her team members had come up with a brilliant idea of an event – charging $250 per ticket to attend!

This is such a great example of the power of the team meetings.

These meetings can also be a time to share how people are feeling. You can make that the first question for your team. Validating all the feelings will make the meeting go even smoother and allows you to focus on your agenda.

A few other steps that help make team meetings easy:

  • Make it clear during the hiring process that attendance at team meetings is non-negotiable
  • Make it easy for them to attend by listing out the team meetings for the year in advance – or at least 4 months out. You want to reduce any objections. 
  • Finally, make your meetings fun! Surprise your team with small gifts and prizes at some of the meetings

Team meetings are an essential way to share information, build selling skills, and strengthen bonds. And they are especially important whenever your store is going through changes, you might even want to increase the frequency during any kind of transition!

 If you need any help, don’t hesitate to email me at cathy@retailmavens.com.

5 Comments on “7 Sure Ways to Waste Your Team’s Time”

  1. Cathy, as a former Retailer/Business Owner/Operator I truly wish I had been given this information as a guide to follow. I had to live with not being in control of a particular staffer for many years and I was the one to suffer from the stress. I am retired now and still active in Clubs. I think much of what you have noted can be used for Executive Meetings too. Would it be OK with you for me to share this information with my Team Members? Please advise.

  2. I’m grateful I don’t work for the author of this article. Such condescension.

    Tell the new hires the meetings are fun because no food is allowed, no one can introduce important issues, and people get spoken to like children for “whining.” Got it.

    1. In regard to Julius’ comments: I don’t find this condescending at all! Just treating adults like adults instead of children who need to be entertained and plied with treats! Work requirement, not party, I think is a good way to proceed. Which doesn’t”t mean it can’t be fun. Having an agenda is brilliant – sets up the expectation for the meeting. The owner could solicit input from the team members for upcoming meeting agendas if there are “important issues” that need to be discussed. Personally, I would hope an employee would reach out to me before a meeting to bring up something important.

  3. Thanks for sharing Kathleen! I completely agree with you. 🙂 There is value in different opinions which is why I posted Julius’ comment. He certainly brings up the point that the way these points are communicated is important!

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