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Breakfast With a Purpose

A unique style of staff meetings

Perhaps as a child, you were advised to have a good breakfast every day.  The idea behind that advice was that you would receive the proper nourishment to help you through your day.  And, as we grew up, many decided to forego that early morning meal as witnessed by the number of people carrying a foam cup and donut bag with them as they arrive at their workplace.

With regards to your business, there is another reason why the advice of having breakfast could assist you today.  This idea started with a group decision by the supervisors of a business that we previously owned.  The point was made one evening after the completion of a session of Skyway University, our in house training program.  A supervisor suggested that there was a need for the management of our store to have the opportunity to get together on a regular basis.  With Skyway University occasionally lasting for ninety minutes, most were too tired to sit for a while to work out management decisions.

As our training program was already meeting on alternating Tuesday evenings, we did not want to give up a third Tuesday evening each month for a supervisor meeting.  In an effort to find a time that was convenient for everyone, the suggestion was made that we meet in the early morning.  From this, a tradition was started of having breakfast together every other Monday.

Granted, there are many businesses that have established Monday morning staff or supervisors' meetings.  But, for those that do not see their customers by appointments, before or after hours meetings are the only choices available. 

There had been experiences with some internal problems.  The type of problems that one would suspect occur in most every type of business: details not being taken care of, jobs not completed, minor disagreements between team members and a number of other occurrences that are counter productive to the well-being of any business.  These are often the type of things that you want to discuss, but not with all of the team members present.

On the morning of the first breakfast, the five supervisors met in the store parking lot at 7 am, and carpooled to a nearby restaurant.  The meeting started with coffee and a chance to visit with each other.  While several were scheduled to be at work at 8 am, a retired supervisor was available to cover for us, as frequently we had not completed our breakfast meeting until 9 am.  Other team members had volunteered to provide additional coverage for any other gaps in the work force.

A typed agenda was presented to each of the participants.  The agenda was created by asking each of the supervisors to list any needs or problems they were having, as well as any opportunities that they saw.  All of the lists were compared and collated into one master list.  Supervisors were invited to bring any supporting evidence for items that they had placed on the agenda.

Breakfast would be ordered, and we then began the agenda.  Everyone was required to take written notes.  The office manager was the official recording secretary.  When breakfast arrived, a break from our meeting was taken as everyone ate and enjoyed a period of casual visiting.  Most of the discussion seemed to center on swapping stories of funny incidents with customers.

The waitress would clear the table, refill the coffee cups, and the supervisor's meeting was again called to order.  After ninety minutes, everyone had the opportunity to have a good breakfast, some interaction with fellow supervisors, and take back to work a copy of the agenda, which now detailed who was responsible for implementation of each solution.

As the next two weeks went by, each supervisor would report to the office manager with his or her efforts, and results to date.  Many times the research and resulting action would become a part of the regular training program.  It was exciting to watch as the rest of the team members observed the joint efforts.  Like a crew working on a ship, there was a level of appreciation knowing that there were individuals that were busy plotting a map to success, and navigating the business to that destination.

When the next supervisor's breakfast was held, the office secretary would bring the notes from the previous meeting.  Some reports from supervisors would be news of works in progress, while others would be research information so that a decision would be made during the meeting.

There would also be occasions when other team members would be invited to the supervisor breakfast.  The reasons for the extra person in attendance would vary from looking at a person as a candidate for becoming a supervisor, or needing their input for a project in the works, or simply as a reward for their efforts.

The quality of the breakfast meetings improved over time.  With any team, of any size, there will always be personality conflicts, or disagreements in making decisions.  Several ground rules were created to help make the meetings more productive. 

The first was an agreement that with each topic, there would be recognition of whose opinion was most important in that particular situation; for bookkeeping situations it would be the office manager, while for staffing situations it would be the person overseeing the staff, just to give two examples.  Secondly, there would also be the possibility that there would be decisions that would be made exclusively by top management.

And lastly, decisions of the group would be made by way of a verbal vote.  Everyone would know where each other stood.  And once an agreement was made, there could not be any negative rebuttals.

And with that said and done, the restaurant bill was paid and the supervisors returned to work - knowing that the day, and the work week, was off to a great start.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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