Three ways to Squirrel Proof Your Staff Meetings

My wife and I recently relocated to the Lake Cumberland area in Bronston, Kentucky. We love our new home, new friends and the lake isn’t bad either. But there are a few things I miss about our previous home. For example, I miss our large deck that was surrounded by huge oak trees. The oaks provided plenty of shade in the summer, but they also provided something else… squirrels.
During the first few years we lived there, they weren’t an issue. Fast forward several years and the squirrel population grew. After that, it didn’t take long to learn that squirrels could be a real nuisance, especially when they found their way into the attic. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to get rid of them because the people who bought our house inherited the new fluffy-tailed family.
Staff meetings are another place squirrels seem to invade and cause problems. Obviously I am not talking about the nut-eating animal who lives in the trees (and sometimes your attic). I am talking about the disruptions and distractions that often find their way into staff meetings. When this happens, the ability to stay focused and productive becomes a struggle and results in poor planning.
Here are some signs that your staff meetings may have a squirrel problem:
  1. Staff meetings never start or end on time

  2. Social media fights for the attention in the room

  3. New ideas and offline conversations override the agenda

  4. Everyone leaves with little or no clear accomplishments

 If any of these sound like your staff meetings, there’s a good chance you have a squirrel problem. Here are three things you can do to help squirrel-proof your meetings:

Fun on the Front End

Start your staff meetings with fun. Encourage your staff to share a fun story, a YouTube video or hilarious tweet. Believe it or not, this can be key in setting a productive team environment. You’ll be surprised how your team will look forward to this part of the meeting each week. Laughter can help people solve problems that demand creative solutions by making it easier to think more broadly and associate ideas/relationships more freely. Recent research shows that people in a lighter mood experience more eureka! moments and greater inspiration (read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Jay Goleman). Suggestion: establish the first ten minutes as “fun.” During this time, anything goes. But when the ten is gone, it’s time to get to business.


After having some fun, it’s time to drill down into the details of the meeting. It is helpful to make the transition with prayer, asking Jesus to lead the upcoming conversations. Hopefully you are prepared and everyone is fully aware that social media, text messages and side stories have been put to bed. Bringing focus to your team requires staying true to the agenda and ensuring everyone is engaged without interruption. The New York Times recently published research from The University of California that showed it can take up to 25 minutes to regain focus after being interrupted. If that’s true, technology and side conversations can be a coffin nail to planning meetings.


There always seems to be that last squirrel hanging around at the end of meetings, waiting to jump in. This particular squirrel is usually the one responsible for meetings lasting much longer than they should. While there are always exceptions, as the team leader, it is important to finish on time. When a team consistently starts and finishes on time, rhythm happens. When a team finds their rhythm, stuff gets done. So, if you need a standard squirrel proof meeting agenda, here it is:
  1. Fun
  2. Focus
  3. Finish

In what ways are you adding health to your staff meetings?


  1. Staff meeting can be boring, and sometimes it loses focus on the real problem, which can make it time consuming. To make them valuable and helpful, it is necessary to stay focus and try to find the solution.

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