Team Leader Training – Why run Team Meetings?

A Team Leader, at any level, is responsible for building a high performing Team. The main tool or process for the Team Leader to build their Team is the Team Meeting. Unfortunately, in the real world, meetings are not always interesting and productive affairs! Meetings can be dull, repetitive, boring events, where it is far too easy for each participant to switch off, to become disengaged, and to be totally uninvolved with the whole process.

It’s hardly surprising then, that when they leave the meeting, Team Members are very quick to put it out of their heads. They often retain no commitment to shared purpose or even to action points that were agreed at the meeting. These are not bad people. It was just a really bad meeting, and we could have predicted the outcome.

The Effective Team Meeting
A well planned and structured Team meeting is, on the other hand, quite the reverse. The Team Members leave this meeting with the feeling that something was achieved, that they were engaged in the process and that they are motivated to achieve follow up actions. It is the role of the Team Leader to ensure the meeting is successful, and that this good outcome is achieved.

Used effectively, the Team Meeting is the forum where the Team Leader –
• Manages People
• Manages the throughput of work
• Aligns the Team to their Team purpose
• Gains commitment to Organisational and Team Goals
• Co-ordinates effort
• Celebrates achievement and personal milestones
• Binds the Team together, building mutual respect
• Develops the Team & Team members
• Motivates and energises the Team Members
• Generates ideas and innovations to improve performance and Teamwork
• Delegates to sub-groups or individual Team members
• Manages projects
Running effective meetings is essential to the Leadership role.

The Basics – What is a Meeting?
Let us take a fresh look this, what is a meeting? A Meeting is a group of people who come together for a specific time to achieve given objectives. This core definition is important. The objectives of every meeting should be stated at the beginning of the meeting, as should the length of time, and the desired outcome of this particular meeting.

The meeting generally has a chairperson, or leader, who has the role of –
1. Setting out the objectives
2. Structuring the meeting – providing a format for the meeting to achieve a good outcome. Many Leaders assume the Team Meeting always has to be a round table, open discussion. This very rarely works, and quickly becomes boring. The aim is to structure the meeting to achieve the specific goals on the day. HOW we do that can, and should, vary.
3. Facilitating the Meeting. The leader facilitates the meeting, guiding the people in the group, stimulating individual contribution and the flow of interactions. The Leader ensures we have a good outcome.

All of these aspects of the meeting Leader’s role involve planning and skills. They are competencies that we can work at, and improve.

Planning is the Key
An effective Team Leader will take time to plan and structure each Team Meeting. What are the goals of this particular meeting? What is the desired outcome? The goals of each meeting need to be very specific, as the method of achieving those goals will vary. The Team Leader will also think about the method to achieve the outcome.

For example, the Team Leader might wish to generate some new ideas, or problem solve issues that have arisen with the Team’s performance. Firstly, this type of brainstorming meeting cannot be mixed with a general, managing the work throughput meeting. Keep it quite separate. The Team Leader wants the Team energised and full of ideas. He or she will not sit them round a table where the atmosphere will quickly become dead. They will get rid of the table, or move the Team to another place where they can buzz off each other.

Equally, how the Team Leader starts this meeting, and facilitates it to keep the energy levels up, will be quite different to another type of meeting.
A few minutes planning will help enormously –
1. What are the objectives today? What is the desired outcome?
2. What is the best way to achieve this? What is a good format for this meeting?
3. What is the best structure – beginning, middle, end?

The message here is simple. Meeting time is precious! As an Effective Team Leader, make the most of every meeting!

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