Alright, how many of us totally LAMENT meetings? 🙋🏻♀️ Most of them drag on and on, you realize just a few minutes in that you are SO not needed in this meeting, and by the end you’re wondering, “Really?! This could’ve been a 5-minute email!” The WORST. 🤦🏻♀️
But let me play devil’s advocate here. Have you ever been under leadership who “doesn’t believe in meetings”? I HAVE. 🙋🏻♀️ And honestly, it’s WORSE than the leader who schedules meetings for everything. It may sound a little like Goldilocks here, but there is a happy medium here.
My LadyBoss Perspective
Okay, let’s get into the 5 simple ways to make meetings matter! 👇🏻
#1 – CONSISTENCY
Consistency is KEY here. Having consistently set and respected meetings with your team is so important, for many reasons. First, the whole “no news is good news” line is NOT great as a leader. Your team may be silent because there is no clear way to reach you for feedback. Your “open-door” policy, might not feel so “open-door” to your team. You might be extremely busy, actually I’m sure you are, and your team SEES that. That stops them dead in their tracks when needing to come to you for your help.
Second, if you aren’t meeting with your team regularly, you’re not building a relationship with them. As I’ve mentioned in other posts and in my freebie (email me if you want that – firstname.lastname@example.org), while you don’t need to be friends with your staff you do need to be friendly. Your team is most effective and motivated when they have a personal connection to you as their leader. When your team feels like they are understood and cared for as a person, not just a cog in the machine, you will see significantly better results.
I highly encourage setting weekly team/department meetings, weekly one-on-ones with ONLY your direct reports, and at least monthly or quarterly all-staff meetings. Get them on the calendar at least for the year, or better yet just don’t put an end date on your calendar invite.
#2 – CLARITY
Before even walking into the meeting, everyone should be clear on what the intended outcome(s) of the meeting will be. This means you need an agenda, and that agenda needs to go out to your team PRIOR to the meeting (at least a half-day prior). Here are my tips for a clear agenda:
- Start with a clear outcome at the top of the agenda
- Always start your meetings with 5-10 minutes of feedback from your team BEFORE getting into the agenda
- Include a clear, bulleted list of agenda items
- Include very clear responsibility (name of team member) for each agenda item
- Make sure agenda items are time-bound (otherwise you really can’t be clear on how you’ll get everything done in the time allotted)
- Always include 5-10 minutes for closing and questions
- Always include next steps (should be tied to your outcomes)
#3 – ACTION
The best way to have engaged and productive meetings, is to actually do work inside the meeting itself. Send pre-work to set context around the agenda items, and ask the team to come to the meeting prepared to discuss and brainstorm. Ensure that there is engagement from every person that is coming to the meeting. If they don’t have a way to be engaged, maybe they shouldn’t be in the meeting! If you have a large group, split them into groups to do work together and report out from all groups at the end. Find a way to actually do something or your meetings will be dreaded.
#4 – RESPECT
The most important piece of any meeting is RESPECT. First, respect the time of your attendees. DO NOT go over your allotted time. I’ll be honest, I struggle with this. But I also know, that the meetings I attend that don’t respect my time are the meetings I dread going to and somehow find my way out of.
Second, respect each attendee’s time and contribiutions individually. Ensure that they have a true purpose in the meeting, and if they don’t then don’t invite them! They will appreciate it, trust me. Respect their contributions and ensure that they are considered and followed-up on. Don’t elicit feedback or have a meeting to brainstorm if you are not willing to actually take that feedback into play.
Most importantly, show respect and diplomacy TO your attendees. Do not use a team meeting to call out a specific employee or group of employee’s failures. Do not use a team meeting to scold or shame anyone. I don’t care how busy you are, this needs to be done in private. It is not productive for the person you’re calling out, and it kills the morale of your entire team. I had a leader who did this regularly, and the staff meetings were HATED. And not surprisingly, that company had quite a bit of turnover.
#5 – DON’T BE “THAT GUY”
Please, please, please don’t be “that guy”. That guy is the one who sets meetings, and then cancels them the day of. That guy is the one who holds meetings that could’ve been emails. That guy is the one who shows up with no agenda and asks, “So, what’s going on?”. That guy is the one who is constantly late arriving, and holds everyone over because of their tardiness. That guy is the one who thinks one compliment will erase the 20 minutes of calling out people’s mistakes in front of the whole team. That guy is the one who comes to the meeting just to rattle off demands and tasks, and never brainstorms or taps into the creativity and talent of their team.
Don’t be that guy because it’s annoying, but more importantly because this is the PERFECT way to get your team to disengage. You will quickly de-motivate your team, make them feel unvalued, and make them dread interacting with you. If your team dreads interacting with you as a leader, you better believe it will show in your results.
So What Now?
What’s the one thing you’re going to do TODAY to improve your meetings? Share in the comments below!
If you’re really ready to step your game up, send this post to your team and ask for their feedback on how you can improve your team meetings. Be open to the responses, and don’t take them personally!
BTW, we go WAY further into meetings and effective communication with your team in The Leadership Project. Have you checked it out yet? Spots are filling up, and this is the ONE & ONLY time there will be a heavy discount on the program for email subscribers ONLY. If you haven’t signed up for the email list, you can do that here.
Talk soon! 👋🏻