Why is it so difficult to have an effective team meeting with colleagues and coworkers? Some argue that there are too many meetings and that meetings are a waste of time. Others, not enough? Very often coworkers try to avoid them. Poorly organized meetings have a negative impact on people. Not only at work, but also in their personal lives, it can bring tremendous stress. Effective meetings also increase the efficiency of companies. This will have a positive impact on the quality of life of employees.
What can we learn from movies?
What makes movies and TV shows so fascinating? A large team of hundreds, if not thousands, of people invests heavily to squeeze so much into 90-120 minutes. Over the course of one movie, and only an hour and a half, you’ll be watching the life of a character. At team meetings, we hardly ever summarize the week. During the film, the viewer has no opportunity to consult with the actor, discuss with the actor, or make comments or suggestions.
So why is a movie, over which we have no influence, so much more interesting than a business meeting? A live event, such as a business meeting, should be entertaining. The issues raised there should be of interest to all participants without exception.
Screenwriters have long understood that in order to attract the attention of the audience, a film needs conflict, human drama. Conflict is a key factor that should be an important part of an effective meeting.
What’s wrong with our meetings?
The myth of “too many meetings.”
Improving the quality of meetings is not about reducing the timing of meetings, or their frequency. On the contrary, we need to have meetings as often as possible. And it’s the efficiency of their conduct that will help reduce the time they take.
Paradoxically, the more often meetings are held, the more working time we save. Decisions made during efficiently conducted meetings speed up the process of accomplishing tasks. It saves us from having to discuss the same problem over and over again. In addition, employee actions become more deliberate, saving you all unnecessary time wasting on repetitive discussions.
Lack of drama
Most managers try to tone down or neutralize drama or healthy conflicts. Participants don’t feel comfortable talking about what they really think.
On the contrary, conflict during a team meeting fuels employees’ interest in the company’s activities. If you strive to avoid conflict in all situations, people’s interest in the discussion is lost. Avoiding sensitive topics for general discussion turns meetings into boring services. This, we see, is the cause of everyone’s frustration. Lack of interaction means a lack of suggestions for solving problems and disagreements. Further, passivity and frustration can escalate into personal conflict.
Leaders should seek out and encourage healthy conflict. As a result, interpersonal discomfort and further conflict will disappear. Along with this, a leader’s favorite collaboration with the team is overcoming challenges. Read How to Build a Highly Effective Team for more information on this topic.
The Universal Approach
The second biggest challenge is the leadership’s desire to discuss all problems and solve them in one meeting. But teams meet every week or several times a month to discuss next steps, projects, strategy, competitors, marketing … And while all this is being discussed, team members wait until the meeting is over to finally get on with their work.
What would you like to do to have effective team meetings?
Addressing Efficiency: 4 meetings
Each meeting should have a purpose and a specific format. Participation in these meetings is mandatory. Let’s look at the four meeting model that Patrick Lencioni introduced in his masterpiece, Death by Meeting.
The team should get together every morning, either offline or online. For 5 to 10 minutes, all team members share information about their work plans for the day and problems that may arise. Checks like this help employees prioritize their day-to-day activities. It’s very similar to Agile stand-up meetings.
Weekly Tactical Meetings.
Teams should meet weekly or every two weeks, depending on the length of the meetings, they can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. The purpose is to discuss current work issues. The length of weekly tactical meetings can last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. These meetings include three main elements.
Each participant does a quick review of the week’s priority areas. This allows the team to find recurring tasks, problems, and urgent issues.
This review focuses on the key or most critical indicators, but no more than five should be selected. Depending on the company’s business, these might include – revenue, expenses, quality of customer service. The main goal is to increase accountability within the team. The review of results should not take more than 5 minutes, taking into account additional questions.
The agenda is discussed only after the blitz and results reviews. “Real-time” means that the agenda is not determined in advance. It is inevitable that during the first two parts of the meeting, some issues will emerge and require discussion. Two important goals of weekly tactical meetings are to resolve problems and to make sure all employees understand each other.
The main risks in holding weekly meetings:
- The temptation to form a tentative agenda in real time.
- Discuss too many issues during blitzes. In this case, meeting participants will quickly lose interest, and you may not get to the really important issues.
- Discuss strategic issues. Such issues are listed separately for discussion at the monthly strategy meeting. There isn’t enough time to address them during the 45-90 minute meeting.
Monthly strategy meetings.
Most likely, the monthly strategy meeting is a meeting with the most interesting and exciting topics to discuss. These topics, a maximum of two or three, require considerable preparation. The length of the discussions at a monthly strategy meeting depends on the nature of the topic. However, two or more hours should be allotted to each topic. Enough time will allow participants to have a thoughtful discussion. Regularity is essential to the effectiveness of monthly strategy meetings.
Special Strategy Meetings
Situations often arise when a strategic issue needs to be addressed without waiting for the monthly strategy meeting. Thus, extending management time to address a critical issue is acceptable.
One of the risks of monthly strategy meetings is too many topics on the agenda. Another is poor preparation of these meetings. Finally, fear of conflict can undermine the quality of these meetings.
The retreat is an opportunity for management to take their minds off the current, weekly, and even monthly issues. It is a separate area that helps look at the business as a whole. A quarterly exit review includes the following.
Executives should review their strategic vision three or four times a year. In new industries, competitive threats appear regularly and require special attention.
Review the industry and competitors
It is good for executives to take a break from their day-to-day tasks from time to time. This allows them to assess new trends and the current state of affairs dispassionately and from all angles.
Regular critical reflection on everyone’s position on the team can identify negative behavioral factors.
Key employees should be reviewed three to four times a year. As a result, managers can determine who on the team is really effective and who is mediocre.
One of the most common problems is overloading the quarterly retreat. The quarterly retreat is designed to understand the state of the company inside and out. It should not look like an endless PowerPoint presentation. They are usually accompanied by endless informative conversations.
The next challenge is the need to invite a third person and discuss current problems and matters in their presence. This may well disrupt the dynamics of established team relationships. In this case, an outside mediator can be brought in. In this case, the team leader will be able to keep the discussion going without looking back.
Despite the fact that meetings are quite a common management tool, not every manager has a clear idea of when and how to use it. As a result, meetings are nothing but frustration. They give the impression of a waste of time. This is why many managers are skeptical of them. Apply Patrick Lencioni’s recommendations to finally achieve efficiency in business meetings with employees and colleagues.
All of the types of meetings described will take up no more than 15% of a manager’s time. No manager would deny that giving less than 15% of their team’s time is not worth it in order to get a highly effective team. David Gusse