Taking time to have a meeting can be productive but it can also waste a lot of time. Time that could be spent doing something that is beneficial to all concerned rather than an hour sitting around talking in circles. If you are prepared and use meetings as a tool to boost productivity and build your team into a brilliant cohesive unit, you can work miracles.
A good team meeting helps every person in the team understand the overall aim of the group working together towards a common goal. It helps put into perspective the team members' roles and helps them to work together better. Understanding the needs of each team member is a good by-product of meetings. But the most important part of having a meeting whether it is virtual or in-person is that you are effectively combining the experience and imagination of a group of people. When you do that properly you create a more creative energy than if you were going about it alone. Many plans and decisions are improved upon when you access the expertise of a great team and it makes for an amazing workplace.
Tips for running a great meeting
Focus on collaboration
Collaboration is the key to a team working well together and making a success of your goals. When you work together well, your communication is excellent and your understanding of each other's needs and timelines is accentuated. You become a unit and that unit pulls together as a team.
Reporting is a part of understanding where you are at and how you are faring. Looking at the statistics of the group is not a waste of time but it doesn’t need to be the focus of many meetings. Unless a presentation is required it can be far more effective to send over the information a week or two before the meeting so that they can go through it and familiarize themselves beforehand. They can research their own opinions and come to the meeting with ideas and suggestions rather than throwing a bunch of information at them and expecting them to take notes, digest it and come up with earth-shattering ideas on the spot. Give them the best chance at succeeding and you all win.
Create a team agenda
As a team leader, you should aim to prepare your meeting agenda ahead of time. You might be busy with lots of things, you might have a phone ringing like crazy and emails flying into your inbox like birds coming home to roost but you have to take the time to set an agenda or the meeting could be haphazard and you will all end up floundering around and unfocused. It will be a waste of your time and the whole team's time as well. Don’t wait until a half-hour before the scheduled meeting to rush a hurried memo and send it out to your team.
Instead of simply scheduling a meeting with a start and end time make sure to break the meeting into sections. This gives you a time code your can follow and stick to. It sets key moments in a place that have to be adhered to and this gives you better productivity because you have timed subsections that can be used to focus entirely on certain agenda points. When setting your agenda, a good idea is to leave five or ten minutes in the end for questions or overflow.
Key points when setting up a meeting
- Where is it being held? During and after the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen folks move more and more into having meetings online rather than in a physical location. Make sure everyone has access to the link to enter the meeting and make sure they have a password (if they require one) so they aren’t messing about for five or ten minutes trying to gain access to a one hour meeting.
- Who is going to attend? Make sure you have your attendee list curated correctly. Notify each person about the time and location and include the list of attendees so that they are aware of who is going to be there. Take into account who actually needs to be in the meeting and who can be brought up to speed later. Don’t exclude people who will feel ousted by doing so but rather prioritize people's time so they can be the best they can be. If they don’t need to attend and it will take time out of their day that could be spent on other projects or dealing with clients or something else important, let them be excused from the meeting. Worth noting in this section is that someone should be designated as the person in charge of taking notes and sending out any task assignments after the meeting.
- Why are you having a meeting? Let your team know the reason for their time being taken up. Why you are actually holding this get-together? Think about this before calling a meeting. Having a meeting just because you feel you should have one isn’t productive at all. If you don’t need to meet it could start to fracture trust. Cracks beginning to show in the cohesive working environment you have so painstakingly created is not a positive outcome, so make sure you have a reason for a meeting and use the time wisely. Not one member of your team will thank you for making them sit through a boring hour that could have been avoided by simply sending out an email. They will thank you for letting them leave work an hour early.
- How are you going to achieve your goals? Clearly outline any decisions that need to be made or urgent problems that need to be addressed or solved. Scheduling time to actually brainstorm as a team means you have time to spitball ideas or air opinions or concerns. This is where the rubber hits the road as a collaborative collective and where you can create solutions.
A great meeting builds camaraderie and connection, and ideally solves problems and sets the group on a course of productive action. It enhances collaboration and gives a unified direction for your team. Remember to follow up on action items you have set as a team. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to get results from your team. If you set an action plan in place and don’t follow up on it then you have essentially wasted any time spent in your meeting.