We have all attended terrible meetings. Meetings where you can hear a pin drop any time the facilitator is not speaking. Meetings where saying anything at all feels like you are putting your neck on the chopping block. Meetings where the material is so boring that it is all you can do to stay awake, much less try to contribute. Meetings where you don't know why you're there. Meetings that have an important purpose, but you never get around to it because they are so disorganized.
Do everything in your power to prevent your team meetings from falling into one of these categories. If it already is, do everything in your power to fix it. In this Team Meeting Series, we provided a detailed how-to explanation for creating effective team meetings. After introducing the topic, here is what we covered:
- Start on the right foot by sending your team a thoughtful, well-crafted agenda at least 24 hours in advance.
- Work happens on a weekly basis. Therefore, weekly is the right frequency for your team meeting.
- Show your team that you are a manager worth working for by thoughtfully and transparently determining when to schedule your team meeting.
- Reflect on each agenda item's purpose, and indicate it clearly.
- Explicitly set expectations about how your team should act during these meetings.
- Maintain control over your meeting by actively facilitating conversation.
- Do not expect yourself to be successful if you wing it. Spend time preparing for your meeting throughout the week.
- For agenda items that are simply too important to let anything go to chance, do the extra work of prewiring those topics with your staff.
Do all these things, and your meetings will become the best meetings your team has ever attended. Keep an eye out for the following indicators that your team meetings are successful:
- When you ask for thoughts during the meeting, multiple people want to speak, and not just employees who always want to speak up. (This indicates that your team feels that the meeting is a safe place to share their opinions)
- Following the meeting, your employees have animated conversation about items from the meeting. (This indicates that your meeting topics are engaging enough for people to keep thinking about them afterward)
- People start self-managing during the meeting: they think about time allotments and cut off their thoughts; they follow and use the ground rules during their discourse; they pull the topic back on track when it gets on a tangent; etc. (This indicates that they have respect for the protocols you have created for the meeting)
- Most weeks, staff members suggest items for the team meeting. (This indicates that they feel it is a worthwhile place for information sharing and discussion)
- When visitors attend your meeting, they make comments about how engaged your team is.
After you run a few meetings based on the advice from this Team Meeting Series, these indicators will start cropping up. After a few months, it will become the expectation. You will get so used to having engaging, productive meetings that it will feel bizarre to attend meetings where these things aren't happening. That is when you know you've been successful.
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