To finish off our ‘Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting’ series, we provide some practical tips and ground rules to keep in mind when conducting a toolbox meeting.
With a little preparation, the right attitude, a simple process to follow and a bit of practice, business managers/supervisors can run effective toolbox meetings that produce useful results, engage employees, facilitate human resource management and assist in your day-to-day business operations.
1. Knowing How to Do it
Most people don’t enjoy speaking in public (remember the wedding speech) and this shows. However, you can learn how to run good toolbox meetings, because like a lot of other things, it is mostly experience and knowing a few ‘tricks of the trade’.
Here are a few tips, and after some practice you can get over being nervous, relax a little and run a really effective toolbox meeting.
- Don’t try to run a toolbox meeting with too many people.
- Preparation is critical so make sure you set aside preparation time.
- Employees won’t remember a lot of detail so pick out the important things.
- Carefully think out just what it is you want to say, and sound confident.
Presentation, attitude and body language
- Remember people can talk faster than they can listen, so don’t go too fast.
- 85% of all communication is non-verbal, so watch the body language.
- Don’t put yourself down by pretending you haven’t got anything important to say.
- Position yourself so you can see everyone and they can see you.
- Look them in the eye and make them listen to you.
- Use some notes to make sure you don’t forget things.
- Don’t be too self-conscious for no one will be as critical of you as you are of yourself.
- Remember, you have called this meeting and it is very important to everyone.
Produce useful results
- Ask open questions that will encourage people to speak up.
- Don’t get defensive when people ask hard questions, or criticise you or the company.
- Don’t get sucked into arguments in the toolbox meeting in front of all the others – take individual gripes offline and handle one-on-one.
- The first couple of toolbox meetings might be ‘bitch’ sessions but persevere.
- Don’t try to cover too much in each meeting and put a time limit on the meeting.
- Make sure you keep notes of what has been done – this is particularly important in relation to discussion about and initiatives taken on safety. (Refer to the meeting template below.)
2. Are Employees Really Interested in Toolbox Meetings?
Yes they can be, but they don’t like boring meetings that waste their time and don’t tell them anything about how they are doing at work, what might be happening to their job and what their prospects are for earnings, promotions, training etc.
Where supervisors have persevered with toolbox meetings, they have quickly found that their employees, the company and the supervisors are better off as a consequence of being involved in toolbox meetings.
3. Some Basic Ground Rules for a Toolbox Meeting
- One speaker at a time – be an active listener
- No personal attacks/comments
- Everyone participates, no one dominates
- Work to understand each other’s view as well as communicating your own view to the group
- Keep an open mind
- Work together for solutions and agree to the action plan
- Keep a record of the meeting (the toolbox meeting template can help you with this).
To help keep your toolbox meetings on track and to assist you to record important information from your meeting, download our Toolbox Meeting Template.
Try out these simple toolbox meetings in your business and keep an eye out for the positive results that will follow.
And if you need advice or assistance with any HR / people management issues or in managing your day-to-day business operations, talk to an experienced business consultant.