In your next weekly team meeting, take a moment to look around. What are you seeing? Are your team members engaged—are they looking at each other, leaning forward, nodding, and exchanging ideas? Or, are they staring at their computer/phone or leaning back with arms crossed and eyes glazed? If you are on a virtual meeting platform, have everyone turn on their webcam so you can observe the non-verbals. However, you might not even need to do this to know that people aren’t really “there.” It is usually pretty obvious when everyone has muted their line and proceeded to work on something else, daydream, or run errands during your meeting.
If you have a lack of engagement in your team meeting, you have a problem. You aren’t maximizing your team’s time or energy—and if you aren’t getting value out of the weekly ritual, you need to make a change.
How to Engage Employees in Meetings:
- Start with Good News. Think of this as a non-cheesy icebreaker. The facilitator should go around the room (or the virtual conference line) and ask each person to share some good news, either business or personal. There are many reasons this is important for a successful meeting—it gets everyone talking, it sets a positive tone which helps get all the brains in the room ready for problem-solving later, it allows the team to connect. At the very least, your team can look forward to sharing and celebrating good news.
- Rotate Facilitators. Often, your weekly staff meeting will follow the same agenda week after week—this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, following a best practice agenda is a highly productive way to run your meeting. But, it can begin to feel stale to the team after some time. If this happens, a great way to keep the best practice agenda and re-engage the team is to rotate facilitators. Hearing from different voices and learning from team members’ styles is always a good shake-up. People are more likely to get involved in the meeting if they know their turn to lead is coming up next week!
- Challenge Yourselves to Solve Problems. Team meetings are boring if they are focused on status updates. Nobody wants to listen to someone else drone on about their project for 30 minutes…especially if the update is the same every week. Challenge your team to use the meeting differently. Prepare by communicating the status of your important projects or priorities in advance of the meeting, and use the time during the weekly meeting to solve problems together. Working on a problem is a way more interesting and productive use of your team meeting time.
- Stay Focused. Be sure to start and end the meeting on time. Stay focused on the agenda, and don’t let the team go down rabbit holes and long tangents. Use a Parking Lot to capture ideas that you will need to go back to later on. You should always have a purpose in mind for your meeting, and each person should understand what that purpose is and how they fit in ahead of time. The team is far more likely to engage if they know what the goal of the meeting is, why they are there, and for how long. If you can’t clearly communicate the purpose of your team’s meeting, then you should cancel it!
- Make It Fun. Think about your business or your team—depending on your culture and core values, you probably can come up with a creative way to make the meeting more fun. For example, we have a client who incentivizes on the team to prepare for the meeting well in advance by congratulating them for “Rocking Rhythm.” They even had custom travel mugs made as rewards. Some teams make it a habit to have coffee along with donuts or chocolate available during meetings. You don’t have to use prizes or snacks, but think about what is motivating to your team and find a way to bring that in to your meeting.
Try out these creative ideas for staff meetings, and observe the team again—hopefully, you’ll see a more energized and engaged group, ready to work together to move the needle on your team’s most important projects and goals.
Additional Rhythm Systems Weekly Staff Meeting Resources:
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