Navigating discussion and behavior at staff meetings

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Navigating discussion and behavior at staff meetings

Most managers would rather deal with a patient complaint than conduct a staff meeting. But a little bit of preparation can help you hold productive staff meetings.

Preparation is always key, as is follow-up to discussion and action items raised at a meeting. However, beneath all of the process aspects of having staff meetings, many managers miss the point—meetings are for staff, not you!

Who is doing the majority of talking at your departmental meetings? Is it you or the staff? Your role should be one of a facilitator and a resource person only. In order to cultivate a more participatory climate, I find it helpful to remember the types of personalities and characters that attend.

Craig Harrison’s article on people who display what he describes as “bothersome behaviors” helps managers improve their preparation, approach, and options for the meeting agenda. One character he describes is “the attacker,” a person who intertwines his or her negativism with personal attacks and then uses significant energy to challenge what others bring to the table for discussion. 

As you read the article, you will understand why it’s a good idea for managers to guide staff in developing ground rules for meetings: They benefit everyone attending.


Harrison, C. “Ten Characters You’ll Meet at a Business Meeting.” Accessed at


Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN, Health Resources Unlimited, Adapted with permission.