Skip the staff meeting reports and minutes.

Posted in operations plan / staff team / staff meeting

Skip the staff meeting reports and minutes.

You are happily running a program and you get a question from a client. The question, though, is about a workshop that is happening next month, and you aren’t the staffer planning or running the event. You take a minute to think if you have the information to answer.

Stay in the know without the overwhelm.

Even with the smallest non-profit teams, people get busy doing their own work and don’t always stay up to date on what their colleagues are doing. You don’t really need to know all the tiny details for the planning and running of next month’s workshop, but it is kind of embarrassing if you can’t answer a few basic questions.

With weeks between staff meetings, it would be overwhelming if everyone emailed progress reports to each other every time they have an update. There needs to be a way for everyone on the team to record what they are working on, a place that everyone can reference easily, and at any time. There is. It is called the shared Staff Report.

The shared staff report.

These days of cloud computing (e.g., Microsoft 365, Dropbox, Google Drive), it is easier than ever to share one document between many users. A shared Staff Report is a great place to get started.

Build your shared Staff Report by using a new page for every single program or service your non-profit will run during the operating year. Simply mirror the items and categories in your operations plan. No operations plan? No problem. Follow the list of tasks assigned to each member of the team.

You’ll want to implement a few formatting tools for easier and faster navigation in what can become a very long document. Use headings of different levels to jump quickly from section to section.

With initial formatting in place, start building the data for each section. Under the name of each program, list the NAMES OF THE TEAM MEMBERS working on that program. As a program ebbs and flows, different employees might be added to the list, or move to other work. This section is a great place to track who comes and goes, ensuring duties are not forgotten.

The next section records INITIAL PLANNING for each program. This is where the staffer in charge might record specific directions they intend to pursue. It is also a great place to record the assigned budget.

Next is the what’s happening or UPDATES SECTION. This is where the bulk of the information about program will be recorded. The team member administering the program will record what they are working on between staff meetings. It is also a great place to record problems the employee is experiencing, or questions for fellow team members.

The final piece of each program in the staff report will depend on the nuances of each team. It can be a tool to track information you want to report back to a major funder. It can be a great place to record ideas for future programs. How you use this section will determine if it is called ISSUES/CHALLENGES, TRENDS/OPPORTUNTIES, or something else.

No more submitting reports for staff meetings.

There are benefits of a shared Staff Report document. It eliminates the need for submitting reports prior to a staff meeting. Simply set a deadline for everyone to complete their Updates section, usually 24 hours prior to the meeting. This gives everyone else on the team time to read the information before the meeting. No more combing through multiple documents. Now there is one central place to read all the updates. You might consider using a highlighting system to make new information easier to find.

Agenda items right in the Report.

Now that you have a shared Staff Report, you can build agenda items right into the body of the document. If someone has questions about a colleague’s program, they can insert an agenda item right in the relevant section. This will help team members pause and read the information provided before they add an agenda item, which usually dramatically reduces the number of topics discussed at a staff meeting. That alone, can shorten the time needed for a meeting.

No more staff meeting minutes.

Finally, when decisions are made at a staff meeting, the action item can be added to the applicable section. You can consider having a different colour action item line for different members of the team. Recording action items right in the body of the Staff Report eliminates the need for staff meeting minutes. That’s a big task off someone’s desk! Everyone adds their own action items to the report either during the meeting or after if necessary. You might consider a required format that reads something like:

“April 17, 2024, Staff Meeting: John will complete the partnership agreement for the ABC Workshop by noon Friday.”

A report valuable enough to use at annual evaluations.

There is one final benefit to a shared Staff Report. The document can function as a tool to help during employee evaluations. Employees will be adding updates, information, challenges, and solutions for their assigned work duties throughout the year. That’s a great record to celebrate everyone’s achievements and can be saved into an employee’s digital HR files each year.

New way or old way.

I get it. The idea of a shared Staff Report sounds just a little too different and it might not work for your team. That is OK. You can stick with your existing system of preparing and reading individual reports for each meeting, creating a complex agenda list, taking meeting minutes, and writing a whole other report at evaluation time.

Or you could explore a new, faster way to work as a team. Where its easy to stay up to date, easy to highlight your own work progress, easy to ask questions, and easy to seek support.   

Your turn.

What process do you use for recording progress on your non-profit’s programs and services? Does everyone submit different reports at staff meetings? Does everyone read all those reports prior to a staff meeting? I want to know! Please use the form on the side of the page to let me know, ..or send me an email, ..or message me on socials.


Hi, I'm Christie. I help executive directors develop the systems and processes needed to run a non-profit.

I learned early in my career, there is no non-profit school. Browsing the internet for resources from big-city experts doesn’t provide practical solutions to balance the budget, write a work plan, or conduct an employee evaluation. Leadership development tips don’t really resonate when you are also taking out the recycling and cleaning the washroom.

I created so non-profit leaders never need to wonder how to do the job – no matter how big or small that job is.

I have been the executive director of small-team, small-budget, non-profits for 20+ years. My experience isn’t theory. It is the real, operational, and practical solutions I use every day.

I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

© Christie Saas 2024 All Rights Reserved

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