Most leaders will identify regular weekly meetings as key moments to get together and make stuff happen. However, research shows 71% of senior leaders believe meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Ouch.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Weekly meetings should focus on delivering high value to all participants. Typically an hour to 90 minutes, they should have actively engaged participants, be interactive, and result-oriented with clear action items.
We need to restructure our weekly meetings in order to shift the perception around them. Once done correctly these meetings can be one of the most valuable times of everyone's week.
So how can you, as the leader and facilitator, ensure this regular meeting becomes one of the most effective uses of your team’s week? We’ve got 5 practical tips you can implement immediately for better results - and more effective meetings.
1. Make ground rules - and use them. The process of communicating rules and enforcing them can seem difficult or rigid. But it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding expectations.
Surveyed participants state that the top 4 contributors to a bad meeting are:
People taking phone calls or texting during meetings – 55%
Participants interrupting each other – 50%
People arriving late or leaving early – 49%
People talking about nothing for long periods of time – 46%
So set clear expectations. No distractions, no multitasking. No phone calls, texting, emails. Start on time and end on time. Make sure everyone agrees and can help hold the team accountable.
2. Prepare Effectively. While some meetings feel obvious (the budget meeting will need to know numbers), a weekly team meeting can feel much more subtle. However, it still needs proper preparation by all attendees to be an effective use of everyone’s time.
Each person should refresh themselves on the agenda, previous action items (if any), and topics they want to address. Everyone should come prepared with what to expect and how the meeting will go.
This ensures people stay on topic, simple questions are answered quickly, and no one is caught off guard regarding the agenda.
3. Go deeper on what counts. Resist the temptation to table big decisions for different meetings. While nobody wants to get stuck in the weeds - these weekly meetings are prime time to get ideas, consensus, and decisions on key topics.
Use your agenda to identify what the priorities are, and clarify the need. Do you need a decision? Fresh ideas? Or delegation? Make sure discussions end with a clear next step to keep progress going.
If you’re concerned about unnecessary topics overtaking valuable time, ask yourself, “do I need the whole team on this?” and if not, you can probably address it separately.
4. Avoid getting stale. One of the most common complaints from workers is unnecessary meetings.
Avoid getting stale (the result of uninterested, unengaged participants) by making sure you’ve already identified goals, KPI’s, and rocks. Having the big picture goals identified allows these regular meetings as great opportunities to work through challenges, brainstorm new ideas, and get really strategic on various roadmaps.
This helps prevent the same routine information every week. Keep department or project updates brief and instead focus on what topics need the collective team’s mind on. This means continually bringing on new ideas, addressing new challenges, and making progress where it counts.
5. Learn the team’s chemistry. Make every meeting an opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen the team as a whole. Regular team meetings are a great way of fostering communication and strengthening the team dynamic.
The easiest way to implement this is to add a short relationship-building activity to the agenda. It could be a quick work win from each person, or a personal highlight from their week. If you have more time, you could try a team chemistry exercise.
The key is to do it consistently to develop a sense of psychological safety before diving into big discussions. This creates a more honest, collaborative team that is shown to get more innovative and effective as a whole.
Meetings are the best way to interact, collaborate, and create ongoing results in your business. Make them effective for all team members to ensure they remain efficient, engaged, and innovative, ultimately creating the results you want.