Why is it so difficult to have an effective team meeting with colleagues and co-workers? Some claims that there are too many meetings and that meeting are a waste of time. Others, not enough? Very often, co-workers try to avoid them. Poor organisation of meetings negatively affects people. Not only at work but also can bring enormous stress into private life. Effective meetings also improve the efficiency of companies. There will be positive impacts on the quality of life of the co-workers.
What Can We Learn from the Cinema?
What makes movies and TV shows so entertaining? A large team of hundreds, if not thousands of people, invest a considerable amount of money in squeezing so much in 90 -120 minutes. During one film, and only in an hour and a half, you will watch the hero’s life. In team meetings, we hardly summarise the results of a week. During the viewing of the film, the viewer does not have the opportunity to advise the actor, discuss with him, or make comments or suggestions.
How a movie where we have no influence is so much more interesting than a meeting? An interactive and real-time event like a business meeting should be engaging. The issues raised at the meeting should engage everyone without exception.
Screenwriters understood long ago that to get the full attention of spectators, the film needs conflict and human drama. This key factor, conflict, is an integral part of an effective meeting.
What’s wrong with our team meeting?
The myth of “too many meetings.”
Improving the quality of a team meeting is not about shortening the time or running them less frequently. On the contrary, we need team meetings as often as possible. Effective meetings will help you to save time.
It sounds paradoxical, but the more often focused meetings are held, the more working time is saved. The decisions made during effective meetings speed up the process of completing tasks. This eliminates the need to once again discuss the same problem. In addition, employees’ actions become more rational, eliminating unnecessary waste of time on repetitive discussions.
Lack of drama in your team meeting
Most leaders try to smooth out or neutralise drama or healthy conflicts. Participants do not feel comfortable to talk what they are really thinking.
On the contrary, conflicts during a team meeting fuel the employees’ interest in the company’s activities. If you strive to ensure that all situations are free of conflict, people’s interest in discussing disappears. Avoiding sensitive topics for general discussion turns meetings into boring services. This, as we can see, is a reason for general disappointment. The lack of interactions means a lack of suggestions for resolving problems and disagreements. Further, passivity and disappointment can turn into personal conflicts.
Leaders have to look for and promote healthy conflicts. As a result, interpersonal discomfort and further conflict development will disappear. Along with this, the leader’s favourite team collaboration is to overcome challenges. Read the post How to build a high-performance team for more information on this theme.
The second most important problem is the desire of management to lump all pressing issues into one meeting and solve them all at once. Every week or a few times a month, the team meet and discuss follow-up, projects, strategy, competition, and marketing … Each team member waits for the end to be able to finally do some serious work.
What would you like to do to have effective team meetings team?
The solution to effective team meeting: 4 meetings
Each team meeting should have its own focus and a dedicated format. Participation in these meetings is mandatory. Let’s review the 4 meetings model that Patrick Lencioni presented in his masterpiece “Death by Meeting”.
The daily check-In
Every morning, the team must gather their offline or online. These check-ins guide employees on the priorities of their daily activities. Within 5-10 minutes, all team members share information on their work plan for the day and potential issues. This is very similar to the Agile Stand-up meetings.
The weekly tactical team meeting
The teams must meet weekly or every two weeks, from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the duration. The duration of working out weekly tactical questions is from 45 to 90 minutes. The purpose is to discuss immediate business issues. Three elements compose the weekly tactical meetings.
The lightning round
Each participant does an express review of their main priorities of the week. It allows the team to identify overlaps, recurring issues and urgent matters.
This review focus on critical key indicators, no more than five. It can be revenue, expenses, quality of customer service, etc., depending on the company’s activity. The main target is to develop accountability within the team. Progress review should not take more than 5 minutes, including questions.
The agenda appears only after the lightning rounds and progress reviews. Real-time means that the agenda is not set up in advance. Inevitably, some issues will step out during the two first parts and require discussions. Two important goals of the weekly tactical are to remove obstacles and to have everyone on the same page.
The main risks in the weekly tactical are:
- The temptation to form a preliminary real-time agenda.
- To discuss too many details during the lightning round. As a result, the participants lose interest, and the main issues may not be discussed.
- to discuss strategic issues. There is insufficient time to address them during this 45-90 minutes meeting. Such questions are listed separately for discussion at the monthly strategic meeting.
The monthly strategic team meeting
Most likely, the monthly strategic is the meeting with the most interesting and exciting topics for discussion. These topics, two or three at most, require serious preparation. The length of discussions on the monthly strategic depends on the nature of the topic. However, it is necessary to set aside two or more hours for each theme. A sufficient amount of time will allow participants to engage in a thoughtful debate. Regularity is an important factor in the effectiveness of monthly strategic meetings.
Ad hoc strategic meetings
Often there are situations when it is necessary to consider a strategic issue without waiting for the monthly strategic. So, extending management hours to close a critical issue is perfectly acceptable.
One of the risks of the monthly strategic is to have too many topics on the agenda. Another is to poorly prepare these meetings. Finally, the fear of conflict can undermine the quality of these meetings.
The quarterly off-site review
Effective off-site work is a real opportunity for management to abstract from current, weekly, and even monthly problems. This is a separate area for covering a business as a whole. The quarterly off-site review includes the following areas.
Leaders should review their strategic vision three or four times annually. In new industries, competitive threats appear regularly and need particular attention.
Competitive and industry review
Leaders benefit when they abstract from the day-to-day operations from time to time. This allows a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of current affairs and trends.
Regular critical reflection on the position of each in the team allows for identifying negative behavioural.
Discussion of key employees should take place three or four times a year. Managers can determine who in the team is truly the most effective or mediocre performer.
One of the most common problems is overloading the quarterly off-site meeting. It should not look like an endless PowerPoint presentation. They are usually accompanied by endless informative talks. The quarterly off-site review aims to understand the company’s status from the inside and the outside.
The next problem is inviting third parties and discussing in their presence current company affairs. It can break the dynamics of the relationships established. The only exception can be an external facilitator. In this case, the group’s leader can support discussions without looking back.
While meetings are a standard management tool, only some leaders clearly know when and how to use them. As a result, meetings bring frustration. They create the impression of a waste of time. Therefore, many managers are sceptical about them. Apply Patrick Lencioni’s recommendations to finally enjoy effective team meetings.
All the described types of meetings will be at most 15% of the manager’s working time. No executive would deny that spending less than 15% of his time with his team is not worthwhile to get a high-performing team. David Gousset
A bit of humour before leaving. Do you remember your last Zoom or Teams conference call?