Fostering collaboration and teamwork can be the secret ingredient to better margins. Daily team meetings are a great way to start that journey.
Need more than good intentions:
Your first tip for implementing consistent and effective team meetings is: keep this article. Why?
Because here are the 5 steps of what happens to most companies that put team meetings in place:
1) Initial enthusiasm about how awesome this new meeting format will be! The excitement is infectious and everyone is on-board.
2) You establish a reliable schedule and things flow nicely for a while. It’s working!
3) The meetings become routine and enthusiasm wanes. Topic drift happens. You learn more about your HR manager’s car trouble than wasted resources in your company.
4) The meetings lose their sense of purpose. All you can think about is how much they’re costing you in lost work time, and you throw up your arms and disband them.
5) You hear about an amazing new format for team meetings! See #1 and repeat.
So keep this article. Pin it to your bulletin board and read it during #2 and #3 to get back on track. Setting up a consistent flow for team meetings takes time.
It won’t happen in a week, but keep true to your goal and agenda and it will happen.
Elements of an Awesome Team Meeting
The best time is first thing in the morning. Give people 15-30 minutes to shake off the sleep, check emails, and get past commuters’ road rage.
Stand up. When we sit down it’s like someone flips us into a lower gear. Our energy changes and nursing our coffee mug becomes a matter of life and death.
Standing embodies energy and readiness.
A lot of companies follow Pavlov’s example and use an audio cue to start meetings. Playing the same upbeat song, at the same time, will remind people office-wide to join the circle. Make it early enough in the morning that people won’t be on client calls yet or in meetings.
If you have a Kanban board (the multi-coloured sticky note whiteboard), make it your focal point.
Kanbans make processes transparent and create accountability; that’s what lean meetings are all about!
No phones. Period.
Beware of topic drift! Make everyone understand that this is not the forum for Saturday night recaps or sick cat laments. Be a strict enforcer of people staying on topic.
You’ll feel like a schmuck at first but people will get the point quick. Everyone will thank you for this in the end.
Make sure someone takes minutes. The duty can rotate but it’s essential.
Documented accountability always trumps the “I think I remember that being assigned to me, maybe… sort of.”
Above all: make it fun. Start with a joke and keep the atmosphere lively, enthusiastic, and collaborative.
It’s a crisp start to the day that reinforces a sense of team, opens communication, and makes people feel listened to and empowered.
Is it Effective?
If you stick to the agenda and engage staff, you’ll have effective meetings.
Knowing if they’re engaged or not, unless you’re lucky enough for your staff to be painfully honest, is about body language.
Are they looking the Team leader in the eye? How bout each other’s eyes? Are they standing farther from each other?
Is their gaze glazed over as they think about coffee or what their phone is doing?
If you’re the boss, set the example by making it a priority. Don’t wander in late or skip it because you’re working on a project. Be a part of the team by being within the group; don’t reinforce old and unprofitable hierarchies by looming above it. See my last post on Lean Leadership for more on this topic.