Monday, June 28, 2021

Team Meetings Series: Introduction

Actions to take: recommends team meetings that are regularly scheduled, have a well-defined agenda that is published in advance, and are actively facilitated. Read future posts in this series to hear more specific advice.

This is the first post in a short series about running your team meetings, i.e. the regularly scheduled meeting with all of your direct reports in attendance. Many of the lessons apply to other meetings, but team meetings are the focus.

Let's break down a few clichés related to team meetings. We will put them into plain English and try to get something actionable out of them.

  • Team meetings "ensure that the team is aligned." Translation: everyone hears you say the same thing in exactly the same way in a team meeting. When someone asks a question, everyone gets to hear your answer. When you give updates or answer questions outside of a team meeting, a sole employee may start doing things differently because they have different information than everyone else has. Team meetings are an opportunity to rectify that.
  • Team meetings "are a time to build stronger relationships." Average bosses often make the mistake of thinking they need to design activities with the express goal of teambuilding. That's like designing "falling in love" activities for someone you are dating. Cute if you do it once or twice. Creepy if you think it is a real strategy. The majority of your team gets nothing out of team-building activities and sees right through them. Instead, do work during your team meetings. Strong work relationships are an emergent property that comes from completing meaningful tasks together on a regular basis. Discuss issues, brainstorm around new ideas, encourage lively & respectful debate, get opinions on various issues, etc. 
  • Team meetings are a place to "demonstrate your leadership." This phrasing is dangerous because demonstrating leadership should never be your goal. Leadership is just a collection of things you do. Those things aren't your objective. Better performance, getting work done, achieving the goals of the organization, these are your objectives. This cliché is trying to articulate that team meetings, like one-on-ones, are one of the easiest places to do leadership. You can answer questions, make decisions, clarify plans, etc. Meetings are often derided as a waste of time, but when done effectively, they are far more efficient at these communication tasks than email, Slack channels, or other options.

Your team meeting can be one of the most valuable things you do. The forthcoming series of posts will help you get the most out of these meetings by explaining in detail how to do them well. Here is what the Team Meetings Series of posts will cover: 

  • The agenda
  • Frequency
  • Scheduling
  • Topic purpose
  • Ground rules
  • Facilitating conversation
  • Preparing for your meeting
  • Prewiring important topics
Stay tuned for these future posts in the Team Meetings Series! 

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