Meetings are an essential part of doing business. Yet, with so many types of meetings — whether it’s an onboarding meeting, a brainstorming session, or a status update — figuring out which are actually productive and which aren’t can be challenging. Keep in mind the purpose of your team meetings and the value they can add in moving your team forward.
Effective team meetings often share these four elements in common:
- Sharing valuable information to your team (top-down).
- Providing feedback and discussion of this information.
- Building and strengthening team cohesion.
- Promoting team collaboration.
To maximize the likelihood for success, there are several evidence-based techniques that can be easily adopted by most companies.
Setting an agenda and inviting early collaboration. Framing the topic of discussion prior to the meeting and asking for everyone’s feedback can be a powerful tool to jumpstart an effective discussion. When the physical meeting takes place, it can be useful to have one designated person take brief notes or place ideas on a physical or virtual whiteboard to capture the discussion. This improves shared understanding and clarifies solutions moving forward.
Shifting the workplace culture by upgrading the language used. Take time to observe individuals doing things well and provide them with positive feedback for what you have observed. Notice what is going well and spend time discussing the who, what, where, and when of this. Having your team develop a habit of looking for positives in their work, and the work of their colleagues, will have a positive influence on workplace culture, increase trust, build relationships, and reduce workplace stress.
Focusing on relationships. Everyone wants to work at a company that prioritizes the lives of employees and the financial bottom line of the company. Of course this is easier said than done in times of economic instability (let alone during a pandemic), but this facet remains critical for the health of a company even in these times. Providing encouragement or opportunities for employees to socialize, connect with one another, have a laugh, and engage in self-care will pay dividends in the long term performance of any organization.
Modelling the behaviour you want from your team.Proactively building and strengthening team relationships will help the bottom line. It’s important to ensure that leaders explicitly demonstrate their care for each of their colleagues and those who report directly. It is critical to remind them of their contributions to the company’s success, as well as their overall value to the company. We want the whole team to affirm their emotions and choose their responses that align with the strategic goals of the company. Showing up with blame and anger diminishes trust, and we want to build trust by being genuinely curious about our team members, and treating them with dignity and respect.
If you need help with your meeting structures… get in touch.
Sometimes it can be difficult to take these ideas and apply them to a concrete scenario your workplace. To help with this, we at Build Great Teams compiled a sample process that would tap into all these elements within a simple team meeting environment.
Step 1. Introduce the agenda. (5 minutes)
- Discuss the agenda and how long the meeting is expected to take. This includes the goals of the meeting and any decisions that need to be made that day.
Step 2. Set the stage by celebrating the positive. (15 minutes)
- Request the team members share any personal wins that have transpired since the last meeting or over the past week. Invite everyone to share individually and allow the conversation to evolve organically (giving them time to discuss if need be).
- Ask team members for company wins, and offer congratulations and kudos to team members where you can.
- Briefly follow up from previous meetings on what is working well and what is still being worked on.
- Obtain a brief update from each team member or department on things going well and what they are currently focused on..
- It is important to ask directly about things going well and pull their attention back to the question if need be as you develop the habit.
- What are they focussed on for the upcoming week or month?
- This can serve as an opportunity to learn about each other’s roles and for each of them to teach the others what they do in more detail. This greatly supports overall team integration.
- Ask your team members how you can personally help them be even better at what they do on a daily basis. By asking your team members this kind of question, you open the dialogue and set an example that will cascade throughout the organization.
Step 3. Elevating today’s topic for collaboration (30 minutes)
- Frame the topic of discussion clearly to the entire team.
- Solicit individual perspectives and ideas from team members who had an opportunity to reflect on the agenda in advance of the meeting. Make sure to take brief notes to capture this information.
- With all these potential ideas or solutions on the table, ask each member for their perspective and how it could impact their individual department or roles. This would include both the positive and negative outcomes.
- Functional ideas or solutions will naturally evolve through this conversation and an overall strategy or direction should be agreed on before moving forward.
- A lead individual should be appointed to the topic and help with the coordination of action item completion, timeline, any physical deliverables.
Step 4. Closing the meeting by elevating trust and relationship (10 minutes).
- Go around the table and ask each team member to say what they appreciate about each of their colleagues. Ideally, this can be done in relation to what they observed and appreciated from each of their colleagues since the last meeting and/or can be done in relation to their performance in the meeting itself (e.g., great idea, good reframe of a difficult topic, composure, etc.).
- As you move forward, other small team building activities could be incorporated.
- Reclaim things you used to enjoy. For example, go out for lunch or have it ordered in.
- Initiate new fun activities. For example, bowl in the hallways, or swing those golf clubs. Perhaps the winner gets bragging rights.
- Consider other events as the current environment permits. Retreats, shared fun experiences etc.
This entire example could be conducted in approximately one-hour, which often represents a reasonable amount of time that individuals can maintain focus and productivity within a meeting. Such a timeline would not work for all topics and would depend specifically on the topics of the meeting.
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