8 smart strategies for more productive team meetings

Whether you love them or hate them, team meetings are an essential part of running a successful company. I often hear people complain about meetings, saying that they’re a waste of time and they’d rather be actually working. The reality, however, is that you can achieve a lot with regular team meetings. You just have to make sure you’re making the most of them.

Here are 8 tips that will help you to make your team meetings at work as productive as possible:

 

1 Structure on team size

The biggest mistake you can make is to try to apply advice to your team meetings if that advice is not intended for a team like yours. Every team is different, which means that you have to look at who you’re working with before you can focus on making your meetings more productive.

Consider a small team. The most important difference between small and large teams is that smaller teams can work on a more ad hoc basis – they just get together when there’s something that warrants a team discussion. Generally, everyone is in the loop and speaks with each other regularly. Now, that’s not to say they should never make time for meetings, but rather that they can take a less structured approach to organising meetings.

Larger teams, on the other hand, need clear structure and planning. This is because larger teams usually work in larger companies, which usually means there are more issues to discuss. That results in a greater risk of the team not all being on the same page. Avoid trying to cover everything in one hit, because you’re likely to end up missing details. A great way to deal with this problem is to structure your meetings with different topics for every week of the month. For example, Week 1 – Performance review/monthly targets, Week 2 – Financial review, Week 3 – Marketing strategy, etc.

2 Involve everybody

This tip may seem like an obvious one, but it’s too important not to mention. Making sure that everybody participates in team meetings is not only essential, it’s a win-win situation. On one hand, team members will be able to voice their thoughts, which shows them that their contributions are valued. On the other hand, team leaders are able to hear a number of perspectives and different opinions on important issues, which can lead to creative fixes to challenges or even result in new ideas and opportunities.

There are a number of different tactics you can employ to encourage team members to participate more in your meetings. One interesting method for achieving this is to rotate team leaders for every meeting. This gives everyone the opportunity to have their say and allows all members to develop their leadership and management skills.

team meetings

3 Link back to your main goals

Every company should have clear objectives set for their future. Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy for all team members, no matter what their employee level, to lose sight of them. Everyday challenges and obstacles can divert all attention and, before you know it, the company has veered off course of its original goals.

To overcome this issue, aim to continuously and actively keep your company’s goals fresh in everyone’s mind. Discuss all progress reviews, challenges and new ideas within the context of your original goals. Look at how what you’ve been doing so far has helped you to get closer to achieving them. Making a conscious effort to keep your eye on the bigger picture helps the team to maintain their perspective and prevents wasting too much time dwelling on short-term issues.

4 Give meetings a purpose

It’s fundamental to ensure that the purpose of the meeting is always clear. It doesn’t matter whether your meeting is an unplanned get-together or a pre-planned group meeting. Without a set agenda, it’s easy to forget important matters that needed discussing and to lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve from that meeting. Ensuring that all team members know why they’re there and what they need to do prevents meetings turning into social gatherings. Not only that, it gives you a metric with which to measure how much you’ve accomplished.

An easy way to guarantee the team understands the purpose of the meeting is to state it clearly at the start. “Today’s meeting will discuss our digital marketing strategy for 2017.” Then, to make sure that you cover everything important, clearly state the agenda for the meeting. “We will look at last year’s performance, establish our strengths and weaknesses, and set our goals for next year.” This way, your meetings are much more likely to stay on track and relevant.

woman meeting

5 Set Action Steps

Many of us have a bad habit of constantly taking notes during meetings. This usually leaves you with pages of notes that often don’t get a second look and can end up in your missing out on vital information from the meeting. Rather than writing down every last detail of what was discussed, the smarter option is to write down Action Steps for yourself. The concept is easy – you only write down what you need to do after the meeting. 

“Sure – sometimes you want to note what decisions were made, or what a project is about. But a FAR more important task is to know what to do next.” – Phil Cooke

Taking this approach frees up your time whilst you’re in the meeting, making you more attentive and increasing the chances of more valuable contributions to discussions. Plus, you leave the meeting with a clear to-do list. If your team isn’t too big, it’s worth going around the team at the end of the meeting and having each member of the group state their action steps for the next week out loud. This is a great way of boosting accountability and clarifying each person’s to-do list.

6 Allocate time

When meetings don’t have an allocated slot of time or a set end time, they are much more likely to overrun longer than necessary or go off on tangents. Be clear from the start about how much time will be dedicated to a meeting. This will avoid issues like these occurring.

Another great benefit to setting time limits is the fact that constraint breeds creativity. Some of the greatest works, whether they be books, music, or new inventions, have come from individuals working under time pressure. Dealing with constraints forces your brain to work creatively in order to overcome obstacles. So, by limiting meeting times, you’re more likely to inspire creative solutions and ideas.

7 Use DRI’s

Directly Responsible Individuals (DRI) are a smart technique utilised by one of the most successful companies out there – Apple. These are a simple yet ingenious concept that ensures total accountability and clarity of roles. All it involves is designating a DRI to every task that needs to be completed.

Once everybody knows the first point of contact on each matter, the general running of the company becomes much more efficient. By implementing DRIs, you:

  • Avoid multiple people taking on the same task,
  • Save time by clarifying who people should contact if they have questions or suggestions,
  • Prevent tasks slipping through the cracks and becoming forgotten without an allocated leader.

It’s a solution that’s easy to implement, but one that works exceptionally well.

8 Focus on solutions

Spending too much time discussing problems generally ends up in long, unproductive meetings. When you go into a meeting, you should never walk in with just a problem. Instead, it’s important to come equipped with suggestions as to how these problems can be overcome. This helps to speed up the resolution process and avoids the meeting becoming stuck in one place. Even better still would be to deal with problems and their solutions outside of the meeting room.

Don’t get me wrong, some problems require meetings. Gathering the necessary members of your team and holding a brainstorming session to find the most suitable solution is a smart response to obstacles you face. The important thing, however, is not to let problems take over meetings that had a totally different purpose.

 

Did you find these strategies useful for making your team meetings more productive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post was originally shared on the eisedo blog here.

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