Team meetings, whether them being all staff, department or individual meetings, have a tendency to be unproductive. Most of working Canadians, at some point, have felt this feeling. This has result in staff feeling more stressed and overwhelmed by the time lost attending these meetings. Most people that have worked in an office environment have a perspective on what needs to change. Newer businesses or ones that are up to date with modern work ethics tend to conduct work days in untraditional ways, as opposed to what their parents saw in their work life. This can mean flexible hours, working from home or remote office work. The times are changing and so are employee expectations. If you are an entrepreneur that wants to ensure your business and team does not have unproductive and wasteful meetings, please keep these tips in mind:
Meetings takes a lot of effort to schedule, attend and complete, so decide whether or not you really need to have a meeting or not. Just asking yourself, “how long will this take to communicate?” “do I need to tell one person or the whole team?” or even “will a phone call suffice?” and you will quickly understand if it’s necessary.
One of the more common mistakes that team leaders make is determining how often meetings should be. If you are the founder of your company, especially in the beginning stages, you’re team will probably not be a very large one. If the workspace is small as well, you’ll probably see each other very often anyway. Taking time out of every single day to stop to have a meeting will not make much sense and will leave little room to hit objectives on time. The best way to determine how frequent meetings should be is simply by, one, analysing the current meetings to see if people actually have updates to provide to each other, and two, ask your team members for their feedback. If your team expresses they happen too often, switch it up and try something new for next few meetings.
Some meetings drag on and on. Although certain projects or situations call for longer meetings, keeping them as short as possible will encourage using the time had wisely. Set a meeting agenda that includes specific topics or updates that are related to current projects. This will ensure your team stays on track with everything and prevents leaving out important information. Test out a few different lengths in meeting times and time it. You and your team will get a sense of what timing is best and then you can adjust from there. Also, instead of watching the clock hoping the meeting will end, your team will be watching it to see how much time they have left to speak!
When I say ‘ice breaker’, you probably want to cringe but they can be necessary in your meetings. This applies to team meetings especially. When meetings happen regularly for project updates or just for a check in, there has to be something to get your team members excited, otherwise they might dread it every week. To throw some ideas around, you could implement a short ‘improv’ or a short game that will engage your team and get their energy levels up. Some say that having the fun aspect in the beginning of the meeting will help fire everyone up and get them ready for discussion. On the other hand, if the ‘fun’ aspect happens at the end of the meeting, it could leave your team members smiling on the way to their desks.
As the boss you might feel inclined to lead every meeting but give other a chance to lead. It will help them develop their leadership skills and their confidence in meetings. Also, when team member attend meetings, if they don’t have to speak up, they will probably choose not to. This will give everyone the opportunity to have the floor and express their thoughts. More importantly, value everyone’s voice. Productive meetings are inclusive ones. Inclusivity always gets the ideas flowing and can, in the end, drastically change and improve your business.
With following these few tips, you will start to notice that your team meetings will be less dreadful and inherently more productive as a result. Workplaces and their cultures vary from company to company so there is not really a ‘one way’ to do things. As you take on your own, remember that you do not have to conduct your business in the traditional way that you maybe previously disliked. Approach team meetings with these tips in mind and you and your team will be more productive.
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Intern, Futurpreneur Canada