22 Apr Get Your Staff to Love Team Meetings
Yes really! Often decried as time-wasting, boring or recriminating exercises, holding meetings can actually be one of the most beneficial exercises for any small business. The negativity from staff usually stems from the fact that any form of business ‘analysis’ takes time away from the more obviously pressing jobs of sales, marketing, accounts, client interaction, design, production – in other words, actually doing the job!
However, pause a moment and consider that the alternatives to face-to-face interaction are usually even worse. If all team communications were handled via email, there would inevitably be misconstrued comments, lack of directness, and lack of proper resolution. And miss a great opportunity to bond a team together with a common purpose.
With recent events of COVID-19, businesses have become dependent on virtual meetings to keep the business going. Although this cannot beat face-to-face interaction, it is just as important to make sure these meetings are engaging and clear.
To avoid the criticism of holding a ‘meeting for the meeting’s sake’, think carefully about what TYPE of meeting you require, define that in advance and work to the following guidelines:
Regular and Frequent Timescale
Small businesses should sit down at least once a fortnight either as one team or small groups of relevant staff. Set a regular day of the week for this and do not allow it to slip. Keep all team members informed well in advance of where and when every meeting will be held. The purpose is to give everyone a chance to ‘check-in’ with others they work with. This should ensure that minor issues don’t grow into major problems and that everyone understands the common objective. Leaving it longer than a couple of weeks means problems can fester or get swept under the carpet. Every week you’ll be likely to find at least one member of staff who feels relieved they were able to share difficulties they encountered and get some useful team input. It prevents them from feeling abandoned by the company. Regular meetings also help to integrate staff who are out of the office a lot either working at home or visiting clients, so they do not lose contact with the team’s purpose or strategy or go ‘off-piste’. Any time of day can work but early morning is probably best.
Ask your team members to prepare one item of ‘good news’ in advance to share with the group. We all tend to see the negatives before the pluses, and this pushes everyone to focus on the positives in their own work. You should find this particularly motivating to staff who have had a tough week- they will be forced to see a silver lining to a looming problem or to remember that as well as losing one big contract they won a smaller one, or kept an existing client happy. It’s also a useful tactic to get your more insular members of staff to wake up and appreciate others’ efforts.
Business is business, but meetings will be more successful when they occasionally include fun activities like hosting a topical quiz. This is a great way to socially integrate any team members who are reluctant or too busy to attend social events outside of work. It’s also a good leveller between more senior or technical members of a team and the younger, more junior members, allowing the youngsters to see the fun, human side of the older members of staff, and managerial level people to see the skills and enthusiasm of the younger employees. The overall sense of camaraderie it builds has important business benefits that you’ll see instantly.
It’s likely that staff will already have objectives set for them at annual meetings or individual performance reviews. These can be easily brushed aside- only to result in a panic at review time later in the year. Regular team meetings can serve as a way to reinforce these longer-term objectives by keeping them fresh in the minds of staff (and possibly even open to review, depending on your approach). They will come to appreciate having had ongoing reminders, as it makes their targets seem more attainable and prevents a nasty last-minute rush to justify their existence! Alternatively, you could ask the staff to set and report on their own smaller weekly or monthly objectives. This is a good way to get staff to appreciate the importance of objective setting because any successes will be more immediate. They get to home in on their one most crucial task of the week and ensure it gets ticked off the list. Relief all round!
Consider incorporating some elements of knowledge-sharing into your meetings. If your team is composed of different elements who don’t always understand each other’s roles or duties, this can be the ideal way to share insight between, for example a technical team and a sales team. You’d expect your Receptionist not to understand even the basics of what your development staff does all day, but you may be surprised that the situation is usually vice versa as well, with IT consultants failing to understand why Reception services operate the way they do. Allowing every member of your team an opportunity to explain their job and the current issues or pressures they face will make your organisation work more cohesively. This could take any form- from full-blown weekly PowerPoint presentations to asking everyone to produce one useful tip per meeting. There is all manner of alternative ways to present information- even a quiz can impart a lot of knowledge. Be careful not to overburden staff with extra duties and produce ‘presentations for presentations’ sake’. Consider alternating serious meetings with more light-hearted ones, allowing colleagues to share the burden with joint production, or imposing a maximum time limit on any presentation element. This is the part of the meeting where staff buy-in is most important, so continually assess how much it is achieving and how useful staff is finding it.
For the perfect venue for your team meetings, conferences, client meetings, interviews, seminars or training, contact us at Team Mantle: firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet us your inspired ideas for team productivity at https://twitter.com/MantleLtd