How to Run Team Meetings Like a Pro

How to Run Team Meetings Like a Pro - Modern HR

Many leaders and managers I work with dread team meetings. 😬

Not only can they be hugely uncomfortable if they lack energy or participation from the people attending, they can also be a huge time drain if not managed well. ⏰

So if you’re wondering how to inject some spark and productivity into your team meetings, then read on. 💡

I’ll explain here why the humble team meeting is such an important part of business life, and how to revive your team get-togethers if they’ve become tired and lifeless, using tried and tested practical know-how. 🔄

Why well-run team meetings equal successful and energised teams 💪

Let’s look first at why team meetings are such a great idea and what you should be aiming for with yours. It does depend on what you use your team meetings for, but generally, these are some of the benefits they can bring when they’re done well:

🤝 They’re a chance to problem solve collectively
💬 They’re a chance to debate chunkier issues that face the team as a whole
🎯 They help get your team on board with a new strategy or initiative
📈 They help a team establish its goals and areas of focus
🔍 They help keep people accountable for meeting their objectives
👥 They create an opportunity for team members to get to know each other better; each other’s roles, strengths, and skill sets
🎉 They build team spirit - they can help you go from being a group of people in the same department or function to creating a strong and positive team dynamic

What can go wrong with a team meeting ❌

Taking your people away from their work to be part of a team meeting, even for an hour a week or every fortnight, has a cost attached. It makes sense then to make sure that you’re setting your team meetings up for success and that they’re a good use of everyone’s time in attending them.

Great meetings don’t just happen by chance though. Without a bit of prior planning and preparation, it’s likely that most meetings will fall flat for some reason. Common complaints about meetings tend to be that they’re a waste of time, they over-run, nothing gets agreed... The list goes on. We’ve all been there; sitting in those meetings watching everyone’s eyes glaze over, the stifled yawns, the sneaky checking of emails on phones in laps, the silent panicking over work mounting up back at the desk. No one wants their meeting to be like this!

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So, how do you make sure you’re setting your team meetings up to get the best out of them?

My 5 steps to creating super effective team meetings:

1️⃣ Purpose

The first thing is to establish the purpose of your team meetings; what are they for? Are they for team members to update each other on their work and give progress reports? Are they to review team priorities? Perhaps to cascade information? Or maybe to brainstorm ideas or get feedback from the team? The reality is that it’s probably a mix of a few of these. The danger can be that team meetings become packed very quickly with too much content and veer off purpose if there are too many elements to cover. Try to keep your team meetings focused, and always question whether there is a better forum to share something, i.e. email or a one-to-one, and whether your team meeting is really the best place for it.

2️⃣ Prior planning

Advance thought and planning are vital so that your team meetings are the most productive use of your team members' time:

Consider the practicalities, like the timing of the meeting for example. What time of day is going to get your team at their best and is not going to interrupt business-critical activities? Find a location with a window for fresh air as well if you can.

Create an agenda and make it clear not just what topics will be discussed or raised, but what the objectives of the meeting are. This helps to focus everybody’s mind. Ask your team in advance of the meeting for any suggestions for agenda items. Circulate the final agenda ahead of time so everybody knows what to expect.

Let your team members know in advance what you want from them in the meeting, for example, if you want them to share updates or bring ideas and solutions to the meeting.

If any reports or documents are going to be referred to in the meeting, circulate copies of the pre-reading ahead of time with the agenda, so that team members know how they can prepare.

3️⃣ Ground rules

Setting some behaviour expectations at the outset is a good idea. It’s often the little things that aggravate people about meetings, for example, those people who always arrive late when everyone else has made an effort to get there on time. Or the constant ping of email or social media notifications. Or those people who never seem prepared when others have diligently done the pre-reading.

You want your people to get along better as a result of meeting together as a team, not to be holding petty, niggly grudges against each other. So, head this off by being really clear about expectations. Ban mobile phones and insist on punctuality. Better still, get your team members to take some ownership and come up with a list of meeting do’s and don’ts.

4️⃣ Roles and responsibilities

Rather than you being the person responsible for leading the meeting all the time and having to manage everything that goes with that, you can share the roles and responsibilities among the team. For example, for each meeting, someone different could chair it, someone else can take notes and record actions, and someone can keep the time.

It’s really important to encourage everyone in the team to voice their thoughts and share ideas and opinions, rather than the loudest voices always dominating. As the team leader, you can set the tone by modelling active listening and being a supportive presence.

If you notice the energy dipping, get everyone to stand up for a few minutes, or get everyone to swap chairs.

5️⃣ Inject some fun

Ending your team meeting with something light-hearted and upbeat helps keep energy and spirits boosted. Team meetings are ideal opportunities to celebrate a team success, someone’s birthday, or an engagement, for example. So, bring cakes and treats, your team will appreciate it!

I hope this article has given you hope that it is possible to turn around lifeless and unproductive team meetings and some ideas as to how to do it. 🌟


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