Making the Most of Team Meetings
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Meetings are extremely important in team building and facilitation. It is very important that they are well structured and have a set purpose and time. When a meeting is run well it is a fantastic tool as it provides a forum where a lot of information can be given to a lot of people in a short amount of time. Issues can be addressed and action plans set into play.
Setting the Time and the Place
Giving thought to time and place considerations for a team meeting can go a long way toward producing a more effective meeting outcome. Below are some elements to think about.
- Is the location convenient for participants?
- Quiet. Is the meeting going to be held in an open environment? Near the plant?
- Is this an e-team meeting? Or a meeting with members in remote locations or different time zones?
- What time of day is best?
- Are there time zone considerations for e-teams or remote participants?
- For what other interruptions and distractions can you anticipate and plan?
Trying the 50-Minute Meeting
In some companies, meetings are stacked up on the hour like planes in the landing pattern at O'Hare Airport. The 50-minute meeting concept is simple; instead of a full 60-minute meeting, why not give people time for a bio break, a fresh cup of coffee, and "commuting time" to the next meeting?
50-minute meetings also help manage:
- Overload of information that the mind can absorb at one time
- Wandering attention spans
- Potential health problems from sitting too long
You can't always have a 50 minute meeting, but if you're meeting will run several hours, you could have a connected series of 50 minute meetings. The extra 10 minutes in each hour -- set at a consistent clock time such as 50 minutes after the hour -- could allow for stretches, breaks, or a quick e-mail session.
How to Plan Small Team Meetings
Small team meetings could either be productive or total waste of time. Team members may come unprepared to share or participate. If your meeting does not have clear goals, objectives, and a clear time frame for each topic, you will surely lose control of the meeting and waste time trying to keep the team on track.
Having a set approach to planning small team meetings will assure that you will set up your meeting to be the most efficient and effective. Here is a quick checklist for planning a small meeting:
Purpose defined: your team meeting should have a purpose. What is the reason for the meeting? What is this meeting going to accomplish? Defining the purpose will even help you determine if a meeting is necessary. Many times there are team meetings called to share updates. This could be accomplished with a simple presentation sent via email. Subjecting project teams to constant update meetings decreases the power of the meeting in general. Save your meeting time for brainstorming, problem solving, etc.
Read more on how to plan small team meetings
How to Run Successful Virtual Team Meetings
Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities
Just because your team is not at a table in front of you doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with them and guide them during a project. As with a normal meeting, there will be the issue with setting a good time, ensuring everyone shows up and making sure you deliver all the right information. The key is learning tools that can help you run a successful meeting, in person or virtually!
Scheduling Will Always Be an Issue
Virtual teams have a harder time scheduling meetings because the team members are not in the same location. Some team members are in different time zones, others work different hours while the rest may be constantly traveling. One tip for managing the team’s time schedules is to keep a log or chart of a team member’s location, working hours and where they could be assigned later. With this tool, you can determine prime times to hold virtual meetings that won’t conflict with someone’s schedule.
If different meetings need to be held, plan a schedule with the team regarding a rotation of team members staying late or coming in early to cover meeting times. Many team members are happy to abide by a schedule in which they can give their opinions. Be sure to remind the team of any consequence that can occur for not sticking with the schedule or not participating in the meeting, such as written warnings and disciplinary actions on their record. Understand that some team members may still be hard to schedule even with adjustments. So have an alternate solution handy in case a team member cannot attend group meetings. Be flexible with team members that attend meetings outside of their normal work hours, offer the next day off or maybe a half day.
Read more on how to run successful virtual teem meetings
Addressing Team Dysfunction During Meetings
All teams have the potential to be dysfunctional: incapable of achieving goals. This is because each person is different, and each team has their own unique history. A team leader must know how to recognize signs of team dysfunction, and be skilled to address them.
Using Ground Rules to Prevent Dysfunction
One of the best ways a team leader can anticipate problems in a team discussion is to set ground rules. Ground rules orient participants with what is expected from them. Moreover, they set boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior during the discussion. For best results, ground rules must be set in a consultative fashion, with the rules, and sometimes the consequences of violation of rules, negotiated among the members of the team and agreed upon by consensus.
When setting ground rules, it is important to both verify if the rules are understood, and if they are acceptable. Make sure too that a documentation of the ground rules is available for everyone, either as a hand-out or posted in a flipchart paper for everyone to see.
Read more about addressing team dysfunction during meetings
Making Sure Team Meetings Are Not Time Wasters
Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities
Team meetings are often seen as nothing but time wasters. Few people look forward to team meetings, and with good reason. Too many meetings lack purpose and structure. However, with just a few tools, you can make any team meeting a much better use of everyone’s time.
Deciding if a Team Meeting is Necessary
The first thing you need to decide is if a formal meeting is necessary. Perhaps those morning meetings could be reduced to a few times a week instead of every day, or maybe they could take place over morning coffee and be more informal. If a formal meeting is necessary, divide your attendees into two groups: participants and observers. Let people know what group they belong in so that they can decide whether they want to attend. If you send out a report after the meeting, that may be enough for some people.
Read more on making sure team meetings are not time wasters
How to Encourage Participation in Team Meetings
In your team meetings, you are more likely to reach consensus if everybody is participating in the discussions. The following are some suggestions to help you encourage participation in your team meetings.
Provide preparation guidelines before the team meeting
In your meeting invitation; include some guidelines of what to review and study in preparation of the meeting. Allowing your team members to prepare beforehand will give them confidence to add something to the discussion. You can also include guide questions with the meeting invitation.
Encourage participation from everyone at the start of the meeting
Right from the start of the meeting, you should make it clear to your team members that participation is not just welcome but an integral part of the decision making process. This is often all that is required to get all the team members to participate. The participation of the team members is likely to lead to lively discussions regarding the topic of the meeting.
Read more on how to encourage participation in team meetings
More Team Building Articles
Defining a Successful Team
Types of Teams
The Forming Stage of Team Development
The Storming Stage of Team Development
The Norming Stage of Team Development
The Performing Stage of Team Development
Effective Team Building Activities
Solving Problems as a Team
History of Team Building
Team Building Coordinators and Facilitators
Benefits of Team Building
Types of Team Building Excercises
Team Building Methods
What is Team Building?