Dear Meeting Guru,

"Recently there was a 're-org' in my department that resulted in a few team members being laid off. Although the layoffs are finished, my team's enthusiasm has gone downhill. My boss asked me to arrange an informal meeting to try to regain some team effectiveness and enthusiasm. What do you suggest I do at this meeting?"

Lexington, MA

Blessed Meeter,

Layoffs can spark hard feelings and fear in an office. It's difficult to feel like a team player when you're wondering if you're next in line for a pink slip.

First, ask your boss to attend the meeting and give the team a pep talk, reassuring them that their positions are secure. Having this message delivered in person, rather than in a memo or e-mail, will have a more positive effect. You can then explain the rationale behind the layoffs. If people understand why the organization downsized and that these goals have been addressed, they will begin to feel secure again.

To help bring the group back together, ask everyone to brainstorm some teambuilding activities. If they're having trouble getting inspired, throw a few ideas into the ring: a lunchtime potluck, a Friday afternoon scavenger hunt or a mini-golf game throughout the office. Organizing and participating in fun time together will help re-establish some of your department's lost enthusiasm.

Also use the meeting to recognize the team's efforts and accomplishments. A simple acknowledgment of their achievements and a word of thanks will go a long way. If you're able, consider giving the team a more tangible reward as well, such as a Friday afternoon off.

By addressing the remaining employees' status and showing them how appreciated they are, you'll be on the way to rebuilding their trust and, with it, their effectiveness and enthusiasm.

As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right." In other words, before you can expect your department to be as effective and enthusiastic as it was, you must first help each individual realize that she is a valued member of the company.

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



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