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Make sure your team meetings work

Make sure your team meetings work

A common problem with team meetings is that they just don’t work well.
‘The meetings of one team I belonged to invariably got bogged down. Every time we met we spent far too much time on recurrent problems that we should have solved elsewhere – notably access to the photocopier and car parking arrangements. More important business got put off as a result.’

Here are some ways of making sure your team meetings are efficient and effective:
Focus on the right things. Above all, you need to get your priorities right. Work out which things are best dealt with in meetings and which can be tackled elsewhere.
Stick to the point. Once you are clear about priorities, make sure you stick to these and avoid getting sidetracked.

Start on time and keep to time. It’s easy to waste time in meetings – chatting at the start, letting discussions ramble on. As team leader, you need to keep to the agreed timescale.

Remember the big picture. Meetings can easily get bogged down in the detail. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to keep in touch with the bigger picture – what you as a team are trying to achieve and how you can make a difference.
Make sure you do what you agree to do. You can lose your team’s support if you let members down by forgetting to do the things you say you’ll do. Make sure you write down everyone’s agreed actions.

But meetings aren’t everything

Team meetings are important, but they’re not the only way of building team identity. There are lots of things that you, as leader, can do to help the team to gel. Here are some of the most important examples:
Communicate a clear sense of purpose. You need to have a clear vision of what your team is trying to achieve. You also need to make sure that everyone in the team knows what this vision is.
Just because you have a team doesn’t make the members mind readers.
Morris et al. (1995)
Build commitment. You need to go beyond having a sense of team purpose. You need to find ways of making everyone share this purpose.
Agree ground rules. A good way of building team identity is to agree, as a team, how you will behave together. Tackle things like trust, respect and valuing each other. Ground rules like this – that everyone signs up to – can really help the team.
Have procedures. You can also agree and write down the best ways of doing things. Procedures like these help people to stand in for each other. They also show the importance of everyone’s work.
Mobile phones have made a big difference to team communications on the large arable farms of eastern England. Tractor drivers regularly spend whole days at distant parts of the farm, and use mobiles to keep in touch.
Now do this
Have you ever written down your team’s overall purpose? If not, try doing this now. Aim for one sentence or two at most.
[space to write about 4 lines]

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