Lost time, boredom, much talk - and in the end, no result. We all know these team meetings, where one wonders what the actual purpose is - elsewhere, your time would indeed be better invested. Perhaps you are a manager and notice during the meetings that your colleagues are somehow barely motivated and unsatisfied.
Team meetings have an impact on individual employees, the entire team, and in the long run, the success of the organization. If meetings are experienced as unproductive and without result, job satisfaction, employee commitment, and the productivity of the entire team decline. Eventually, this negatively affects the company's performance.
When workgroup meetings go well, job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately the success of the company increase. They are either a treasure trove or absolutely counterproductive. But what can be done to make team meetings successful and efficient? Opt for many shorter or fewer longer meetings?
I believe it depends on the task, the team, and above all, the right design and communication. You can find out what this can look like in the next seven points.
Before the Team Meeting
I believe there is no fixed number that can be recommended. It makes sense to design sequences according to the type of task and the needs of the employees.
Do the tasks require much coordination? Then frequent discussions are important. If tasks are such that colleagues work better alone and constant workgroup meetings are disturbing, opt for rarer sequences.
It is important to determine in advance when team meetings will take place and how long they will last. This way, colleagues can align their schedules and won't feel disturbed by spontaneous meetings in their work. Not sure what your employees want? Just ask them.
The most crucial point is employee motivation. Many are not excited when a team meeting is coming up. This is by no means malicious – many feel it’s a waste of time. Time that they could invest better in other tasks. How can this be changed?
Next comes the agenda. Compile the most important topics. Consider why these points are important. This creates clarity for you and your employees. Everyone knows what it’s about and why their participation is crucial. Allocate a timeframe for each point; this helps not to lose track of time during the workgroup meeting.
You can involve your colleagues: which topics do they find important? What needs urgent discussion? A tool can be established where participants can express their wishes and needs. Employee participation not only improves the quality of decisions but also their motivation. Numerous studies have shown this.
Also, ensure that only the members who are really needed for the workgroup meeting are present. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting unnecessarily when important tasks are waiting elsewhere.
And: Time is money? A point that can be kept in mind in team meetings. Maybe in a more amusing way. You can find calculators online where you can enter the average salary of the employees and the number of participants (e.g. https://tobytripp.github.io/meeting-ticker/). The time runs, and it's calculated how much money is being “spent”. With a bit of humor, a nice idea to increase effectiveness?
During the Team Meeting
It's the tone that makes the music
Research states that interactions in a workgroup meeting have an influence on both the individuals and the team itself. These group effects impact the later performance of the workgroup and the success of the project. Therefore, behavior within the workgroup meeting can significantly influence the overall result. It’s recommended to pay attention to constructive, supportive feedback. Harsh criticism is out of place. Positive communication leads to increased productivity and thus to the success of the company. Failed communication achieves the exact opposite.
Ensure a pleasant manner and, for instance, establish team meeting rules.
We have already reported on the biggest killer phrases in our "Killerphrases" article - check it out.
And again - Include!
To involve all participants in the team meeting, it is sensible to assign roles at the beginning. An important role is that of the moderator. It’s their job to ensure that participants don’t get stuck on trivialities, the agenda is maintained, and everyone is heard. This role can be assumed by the manager or can rotate among team members.
Equally important is the protocol. It is important to note what is being discussed. Focus best on important decisions, tasks, and responsibilities. Other possibilities are time or deep-dive guardians.
Summarize and check for consensus
Summarize the most important aspects. By asking questions, it can be checked whether the other person has been understood correctly. Make sure there is a consensus in the decisions. If employees feel unheard and disagree with the decision, it has negative effects on job satisfaction and performance. Listen to possible counterarguments - these offer different perspectives.
Visualization does it!
Visualization is a good method to grasp what has been achieved. Display the most important decisions and goals on a flip chart or a PP slide.This can help to keep the goal in mind during the team meeting. Afterwards, everyone sees that something has been accomplished. This task can be assigned to team members as a role.
Go through the whole thing again at the end; it provides clarity and is a positive conclusion for the team.
After the Team Meeting
Follow-up is often forgotten. But it’s just as important at the conclusion of a successful workgroup meeting. It’s advisable to work with a clear structure that is followed after every team meeting. A clear document can be created, containing the agenda, the most important decisions, responsibilities, and further information.
Opt for transparency - the summary should be available to every colleague, if possible. This task does not have to be left to the manager but can rotate within the team. Photo protocols are also a creative option.
As you see, there’s no one “golden” rule for team meetings - it’s about optimal adjustment, the task, and the team, as well as the right implementation. Remember:
We do not have too little time; we have too much time that we do not use.
by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
- Perkins, R. D. (2009). How executive coaching can change leader behavior and improve meeting effectiveness: An exploratory study. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 61(4), 298.
- Kauffeld, S., & Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. (2012). Meetings matter: Effects of team meetings on team and organizational success. Small Group Research, 43(2), 130-158.
- Schneider, K., Klünder, J., Kortum, F., Handke, L., Straube, J., & Kauffeld, S. (2018). Positive affect through interactions in meetings: The role of proactive and supportive statements. Journal of Systems and Software, 143, 59-70.
- Walsh, S. (2017). Team Meetings: Treasure Trove or Waste of Time? clinicians brief. https://www.cliniciansbrief.com/article/team-meetings-treasure-trove-or-waste-time