Here’s how to set the rules of team meetings

Have you found that team meetings can be time consuming and non-productive? It is easy for a team meeting to become a talking shop and have little value. Often the best of intentions behind a meeting becomes lost. Meetings become sporadic, team members do not attend and meetings are cancelled.

At their best, team meetings align the focus of the team by allowing group and peer to peer accountability fostering trust, respect and open and honest communication, the foundations of all motivated teams. At their worst team meetings foster productive avoidance leading to de-motivation and divisions within a team. Meetings become a chore and are felt to be a waste of time.

So why do so many companies struggle with effective meetings? It can be as simple as that there are no rules for the meeting. It is assumed that all the team know what the rules are but in reality this is rarely the case. Simply discussing and agreeing the rules will open up communication and get the subject out in the open. Here are some of the areas that need to be considered

• What are the rules around starting and finishing the meeting?
• What is purpose and outcomes of the meeting?
• How will the outcomes be recorded e.g. action points or minutes?
• What are the rules about being ‘present’ in the meeting i.e. texting, reviewing emails etc.
• What are the rules around interruptions during a meeting?

As an example here are some areas that need to be considered about starting the meeting. Let’s say the meeting is to start at 9:15 am. Well that should mean that everyone is seated with all the necessary information to start at 9:15 am. It does not mean it is the time to make the coffee or the time to go to the loo. How much respect are the late comers showing those that turn up on time.

Make it clear there are no excuses like ‘I just had to take a call.’ Discuss the rules and the reasons for the rules. Find out how the whole team feels when some of these basic rules are not met. Publish the rules and revisit them regularly to make sure they are still relevant.

And finally everyone sticks to the rules and that includes the owner!

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