A meeting is a coming together of two or more people for a clear purpose. Every staff meeting has a task and social purpose. We want to get things done (task) and enjoy the people we are with so that we’ll be willing to work with them (social).
Are your staff meetings accomplishing tasks? Do people leave meetings willing to work together to accomplish tasks?
If you’ve said “yes,” terrific. This post will support your continuous improvement efforts. If you’ve said “no,” what follows will help you hold staff meetings that matter, are meaningful and productive while supporting a willingness to work together.
Meaningful Meetings – the structure
Team Rollerblade members are taught how to fall before they are allowed to do stunts as athletes and performers. What this means is that structure is necessary to their success, their willingness to take risks when learning new routines, and their ability to perform at their peaks. Meeting structure is critical to our office success and team performance as well. When we hold haphazard meetings, team members leave wondering why they spent time that feels wasted. When we hold organized and results-oriented meetings, team members have a clear understanding of what is going on in the practice, what you expect to happen week by week, and what specific tasks they are to complete each week.
Meaningful meetings are possible! Adding structure to your team meetings will use time effectively and encourage team members to enjoy (rather than dread) the meetings. The elements of effective meeting agendas follow.
- Purpose: For every meeting you hold, determine what you want people know, feel, and do as a result of coming to the meeting. A purpose statement tells people why the meeting is being held: make assignments, hold a discussion to reach a decision, solve a problem. Prior to this I like to get the team in the right frame of mind by sharing at least one “win” from the previous week. This “win” can be personal or professional. “Wins” are only acknowledged by the team leader and not discussed or commented on.
- Outcome: An outcome statement communicates what will be done or decided by the end of the meeting. Outcomes are measures such as: assignments made, decision reached, problem solved.
- Day, Date, and Time: The reason to list a day and date is that most people think in terms of days of the week rather than dates of the month. Giving the day and date helps get people to the meeting. For the meeting time, list BOTH the start and end times of the meeting on the agenda. We all need to be able to plan our time; listing the start and end times helps people plan well.
- Location: State where will the meeting be held.
- Contact person/meeting leader: List who is leading the meeting along with a phone number or email address. You as the practice owner may be the leader, or you might rotate leadership to support team skill development. Let people know they can send potential agenda items to this contact person.
- Agenda Items: Time, Topic, Topic Leader. All three of these headings are needed when building your list of agenda items. Every item/topic needs to have a time limit. Every topic needs to have an assigned topic leader to lead the presentation and/or discussion.
- Secret Meeting Formula: To determine how much time an agenda topic might take, here is the formula: The number of participants multiplied by 2 minutes each will tell you how much time the topic will take to discuss a non-contentious topic. When a discussion item is large, challenging or contentious, figure 5 minutes for each person in the meeting. Too often meeting agendas include more items than can be reasonably addressed during the meeting.
Whether you are meeting with one team member or the entire team, use this template for a meaningful and productive meeting.
Weekly Team Meeting (Have a clear name for the meeting group)
Friday, September 22, 2017 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Location: Office Conference Room (or the office waiting room, or break room)
Purposes: review previous weeks metrics , review the past week for successes and challenges, create focus plan for upcoming week. (Or whatever your purposes will be.)
Outcome: Assignments made with team members and deadlines identified. Decisions about what we can improve in the coming week.
Meeting Leader: (List the name of the person leading this meeting. It might be you as the practice owner. Or, it might be a team member you are mentoring for leadership roles in the practice.)
Time Topics Topic Leaders
8:00 a.m. Introduction and Statement of Purposes (and Wins) name of meeting leader
8:05 a.m. Agenda Item: Team member metric updates – 2 minutes each list names
Including a Financial Dashboard update.
8:15 a.m. Agenda Item: _________________ list name of topic leader
(List the topic, problem, discussion, or decision)
8:20 a.m. Agenda Item: ____________________ list name of topic leader
8:25 a.m. Summary the meeting discussions and decision. name of meeting leader
State Who will be doing What by When!
8:30 a.m. Adjourn
NOTE: Every meaningful meeting, phone call, and conference call begins with a statement of purpose to get participants focused on the topics at hand. Every meaningful meeting also ends with a summary of what has happened in the meeting and what assignments have been made. The meeting summary is the largest part of the meeting’s minutes document.
Meaningful Meetings – the people
Getting people to come to your meetings is critical to your team’s ability to work together. When people stop showing up, they are telling you that the meeting is not meaningful to them. Your job as owner is to make meetings matter, to make them meaningful so that people find value in attending. People want to know what is important to their success and to their ability to do their jobs. People also want to enjoy time spent with other team members. Every team member needs to have an opportunity to speak, share ideas, voice opinions, and to volunteer to complete tasks – these opportunities are what make a meeting meaningful to participants.
Whoever leads the meeting is there to guide the meeting structure and accomplishment while protecting time and space for participants to actually have their voices heard during the meeting. Sharing the meeting agenda in advance of the meeting lets people know what you plan to discuss and what they need to bring to the meeting. Agendas that list team members as topic leaders encourage people to show up for the meeting! With the entire team at the meeting, your meeting results will improve.
Meaningful Meetings – the results
When office meetings become weekly chat sessions and monthly birthday celebrations, people tend to feel that their time is not being well spent. People come to work to accomplish things, to have fun too, but really to do the work that they were hired to do. Your job as a practice owner is to ensure that you’ve used the agenda structure for meaningful meetings and to make clear at the end of every meeting what the results of that meeting are.
Meeting experts recommend keeping minutes for every meeting. Wait, no moaning.
Meeting minutes help us as owners to manage assignments and task completion. Meeting minutes also help team members know what is expected of them between meetings. In other words, meeting minutes are a performance management tool. Internal staff team meeting minutes can be streamlined to include the basics – the assignments and decisions made. It’s that simple: document what everyone needs to know and do as a result of the meeting. Here’s a template that will help anyone in the meeting take the minutes.
Weekly Team Meeting Minutes
Friday, September 22, 2017 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Attended: list all people who were present
What Whom When
We also Discussed/Decided:
This is a bullet-point summary of anything else that needs to be recorded in the minutes.
NOTE: 30 minute meeting minutes will be ¼ a page to ½ a page.. Any longer and they will not get read, let alone acted upon.
Meaningful Meetings Summary
This blog post models an effective meeting agenda. The definition of a meeting was the “introduction.” The “meaningful meetings” headlines were the “agenda items” or “topics.” And before the blog ends, we need a summary, so here goes.
When people come together at work or socially, there is always a reason/purpose for getting together. State the purposes of each meeting and implement an agenda that you distribute before every meeting and then use the agenda during the meeting to accomplish what you said you would. During the meeting, protect time for each participant’s voice to be a part of the meeting. People come to meetings to contribute, so help them do so. Before you end the meeting state Who will do What by When and include those assignments in the meeting minutes. Distribute the meeting minutes within one day of the meeting so everyone can manage their own performance results for success.
Here’s to your meaningful meetings – every time!
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