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Make Weekly Team Meetings Work for Your Team

This article was based on episode 216 of The Modern Manager podcast. Get the full episode guide when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join. Purchase any full episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop.


Ack. The dreaded weekly team meeting. In my many years of working with teams to improve their meetings, the weekly meeting is consistently a challenge. Of course teams need to meet regularly, right? Well, like many things in life, it depends.


WHY DO WE HAVE TEAM MEETINGS?


Before assuming your team needs to meet, you need to answer the question of what your team meeting will accomplish. While this might seem obvious, once you dive in, there might be more to it. For example, are you trying to problem solve in the meeting or simply identify problems to be solved in follow up conversions? Are you there to build relationships or celebrate wins or foster team culture? Each of those objectives are related but slightly different.


Like most teams, you’ll likely have multiple meeting outcomes you’re driving towards. Just be explicit about each one because the answer will guide the design of the meeting so that the time you spend together is productive and enjoyable.


WHAT SHOULD OUR TEAM MEETING LOOK LIKE?


Team meetings come in all shapes and sizes. Daily, weekly, monthly. 15 minutes, an hour, or more. In person, over Zoom, or on Slack. Sometimes there are dashboards to be pre-filled and other times participants simply show up. There is no right way to have a team meeting, but there is the optimal way for your team to meet.


Using the objectives you’ve identified, you can determine the following:

  • How frequently do we need to meet?

  • How is the standing agenda structured?

  • How much time do we need to spend in the meeting?

  • How will we meet e.g. Zoom, Slack, etc?

  • What do people need to do to prepare for the meeting?

  • Who needs to be in the meeting?

  • What happens after the meeting?


As an example, every week I hold a team meeting with three of my colleagues. We start by checking in and sharing how we’re each doing. This relationship building time is essential given we are a mostly remote team. We then shift to one team member leading a teaching or setting an intention. This is part of our culture reinforcement. We then build our list of topics for the day. Each person contributes to the list and every topic is welcome. Nothing is too big or too small. Sometimes we do a bit of reorganizing to prioritize the list, but not always. Then we dive in and work through the topics. If a topic turns out to be a bigger discussion that needs more than a few minutes, we schedule time to follow up after the meeting. Once we’re done, we do a final check out during which people get to share any final thoughts or ask questions for clarification on anything we discussed, including next steps.


This meeting has served us well. It ensures we have time to connect as humans while making space for the myriad of issues that come up in our work. There is minimal prework, and honestly, for me, most of the topics I contribute are things that pop into my head at the start of the meeting. It’s like remembering you need to tell someone something only when you see them. Yet, I know other colleagues who keep a running list all week to bring to the meeting. The beauty of this format for this particular team’s needs is that it works for all of us even though we approach it differently.


DESIGN YOUR TEAM MEETING WITH YOUR TEAM


One challenge that is important to note is that oftentimes what the team leader needs from a meeting is different from what the rest of the team members need. It’s important to work together to determine the objectives and design of the team meeting so that the final result serves everyone’s needs.


One team I worked with completely revamped their team meetings after surfacing these differences. They shifted to a monthly full team meeting focused on relationship building and collective learning and increased their weekly individual check-ins with the manager from once per week to twice per week. By doing so, the manager was able to stay closer to the work, the individuals were able to get more support from their manager, and the full team wasted less time sitting through conversations that didn’t pertain to them.


Regardless of how you approach your team meetings, whenever you make changes, acknowledge that it’s an experiment. Set times in advance to examine how the new meeting format is working. Is it accomplishing your objectives? Are there ways to improve the productivity or enjoyment of the meeting? Team meetings should be serving your team. So, grab your team members and start exploring how your team meetings can become even more productive.


Get the full episode guide when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join. Or, purchase an individual episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills.


This article was based on episode 216 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.

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