We’ve all worked under managers who just love to have meetings. They call them for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all. A team meeting is an occasional necessity for most companies, but only when they meet certain criteria. Otherwise, the meeting will probably be little more than a frustrating waste of time.
Let’s have a look at these criteria and discuss the best ways to ensure effective team meetings.
Good and Bad Reasons to Hold a Team Meeting
It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but managers typically hold team meetings for one of three reasons:
- To establish a routine. Many businesses have monthly, weekly, or even daily meetings, even if there is no new information to share.
- To give the team a false sense of achievement. When everyone is gathered to hear an idea, it feels like productivity and team building. Unfortunately, if no meaningful ideas are discussed and there is no real takeaway, this is a giant waste of company time.
- There is information that’s worth sharing. This is the only truly legitimate reason for someone to schedule a staff meeting. Meetings with an explicit purpose are the only ones that tend to accomplish anything.
Once you decide you have a legitimate reason to call a team meeting, the next step is to prepare for it. The following guidelines will help you prepare for the meeting and ensure that it’s productive.
1. Make Sure You Have Clear Objectives Coming In
When an entire department gets together, it is easy for people to get distracted and stray from the meeting’s real purpose. This becomes even more apparent when meeting with remote teams using virtual communication.
To avoid this, write out a detailed agenda beforehand. This is to make sure you have useful talking points before assembling your team. The agenda will also keep everyone focused, which is an absolute requirement for effective team meetings.
2. Designate a Meeting Leader
Typically, the meeting leader is the person who called the meeting in the first place. It is their job to keep the meeting focused. The meeting leader’s duties include things like:
- Scheduling meetings
- Informing the necessary team members
- Building and sharing the agenda
- Encouraging team participation
- Assigning tasks after the meeting
- Making sure that all pertinent information is distributed efficiently
3. Keep the Meetings You Hold to a Minimum
It’s a simple maxim that some managers don’t seem to understand– the fewer meetings you have, the more they’ll accomplish. That’s why it’s important to keep team meetings to a minimum.
Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself: is this meeting worth having? Is there any other way the information can be spread without disrupting the whole day?
Many businesses have multiple methods of communication available to them. Some big ideas might require a meeting for discussion. Other ideas might be conveyed more effectively in a group email, a posted memo in the office space, or an office group chat.
You can also merge meetings if you have similar topics to discuss. Instead of scheduling three different smaller meetings, hold one large one.
4. Develop a Plan of Action
A meeting needs to leave staff with something to think about or an action to take. If the information is worth a staff meeting, there should be a clear idea of how this will affect the team’s work.
Create a list of actionable tasks and assign them to members of the team. You can even log them into a project management system, along with any meeting notes to keep things transparent and foster accountability.
5. Ask Team Members to Bring Their Ideas to the Meeting
Efficient team meetings aren’t full of people trying to come up with ideas on the fly. Make it clear that team members should bring well thought out ideas to the meeting. It’s much easier to consider an idea when it’s fleshed out properly.
When employees are encouraged to present their ideas, they become personally invested in the meeting. As a result, they’re more likely to stay engaged with the discussion and be an example for others to do the same.
No More Inefficient Team Meetings
Before you abruptly change everything about the way you run team meetings, log how much time you usually spend preparing for and attending. Once you’ve established this baseline, you can begin to integrate the tips we discussed above.
Compare how much time you used to spend with how long meeting related tasks take now. This will show you how much time you’re saving and demonstrate the value of proper preparation. You’ll also find that when you hold a team meeting, it actually does something valuable for your team. Keep these ideas in mind going forward, and it won’t take long to see how much more efficient your meeting practices have become.