Team meetings are a key component of any business. It’s important that the employees know and understand what’s going on with the company and what expectations they need to meet in order for the company to be successful. It is one of the best ways to create a culture of continuous improvement.
How does your team react to the weekly meeting? Is it a task they dread? Do they welcome the break from their desks? Do they get frustrated because every single meeting always seems to be about the concerns of one single person? Do the meeting participants believe it is time well spent? We have found that companies that take control of their meetings get a huge return on their investment with high employee engagement.
Here are five tips for running effective team meetings:
- Get input from your team. A team meeting is just that — a meeting with and for the team. It’s not always up to one person to run the show. A successful team meeting encourages everyone to participate in the process and come up with directives and solutions that will move your business objectives forward. Make sure that the date and time chosen for each weekly meeting is the least disruptive time possible. Ask for suggestions to add items on the agenda to see what they want to be covered during your meeting time. If it ends up being something you can’t get to, make sure you follow up with the employee who suggested it, whether it’s something that’s discussed at a future meeting or something that’s followed up on during a one-on-one. If you hold effective meetings, it is one of the best management tools in your arsenal.
- Talk about topics that impact the entire team. Time is money and no one likes a meeting just for the sake of a meeting. In today’s day and age, you can “meeting” yourself into oblivion and then wonder why you didn’t get anything else done that week. If you’re calling a team meeting, make sure that everyone who is expected to attend that meeting will find value in carving out that hour. If the conversation derails into a topic that only impacts a portion of the attendees, the rest of the participants will tune out or could get frustrated thinking their time could be better spent back at their desks. Effective meetings require redirecting the conversation back to the agenda and following up with the other discussion so that can be resolved. A Parking Lot is a great tool to keep your meeting on track without losing the other discussion. The team meeting agenda should be focused on topics that impact the entire team, individual discussions can be had in your one on ones.
- Manage the types of agenda topics. In your staff meeting, you can have lots of different items that need to be covered. The team leader can help set the tone for the meeting by telling the participants what types of topics will be discussed for an efficient meeting:
- Sharing information. General company updates or things they need to know are great to share with employees in advance of the meeting. Then allocate a few minutes for any questions from the team about those topics. If your team meeting involves multiple departments, this is a great way to get information from them ahead of time instead of spending the first 20 minutes of your meeting getting updates from everyone.
- Decisions. It is hard for employees to know what their roles are in a meeting when it comes to decisions. Are they there to listen? Are they to provide input? Do you want to make this decision by consensus? Be sure to make clear in these scenarios who is ultimately responsible for making the decision and to ensure you have the support of the team for the decisions being made and implemented. The purpose of a team meeting is to solve problems, not create more of them, so solve everything that you can while you are together as a team.
- Set a realistic amount of time for each agenda item. If you have a big project to discuss, don’t leave it for the last five minutes of your meeting. If a conversation goes on longer than anticipated, see what can be redirected to the next meeting, or set a time to follow up on that topic after the team meeting has ended. The weekly meeting facilitator will have to make some judgment calls in real time as to whether it is worth continuing the discussion, getting it back on track or tabling it.
- Prepare for the meeting. A successful team meeting will have a leader who can facilitate the conversation, but that leader doesn’t have to run the entire meeting. Once you’ve determined your agenda topics and meeting schedule, communicate with your team if they need to prepare anything in advance. This is a great opportunity to give team members a chance to lead discussions, share important updates, offer suggestions and come away with action items for the next meeting, but they won’t be able to do that if they’re not prepared. Don’t spring a topic on them at the meeting if you want a productive discussion.
- Get better each weekly meeting. Seek feedback from your team on your meeting agenda. What worked well and what didn’t? Use that information to tweak your agenda to what works best for the team and their needs. This continuous feedback loop will ensure that your weekly team meetings get better each and every week.
A team meeting should be something the employees look forward to each week — a place where they can share their concerns, share ideas, ask questions, get important information, and feel that they are part of the overall process. 80% of your weekly meetings should be spent solving problems. Here is how. Take some time to craft your agenda to make the most of that weekly team meeting slot and treat it as a weekly team building exercise, rather than something that you just have to survive!
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