How to Hold Team Meetings That Don’t SuckJan 03, 2022
In order to have a successful business, you need to ensure that you have an established rhythm of communicating with your team. This communication plan will include a daily meeting (or huddles, as some people like to call them), weekly team meetings and a monthly one-to-one meeting with each team member. As well, you will continually communicate your business’s vision, mission, purpose, core values, and show appreciation for team member’s efforts. I know this sounds like a lot to do, but trust me, spending the time to stay on top of this will save you a lot of headaches later. The goal here is that you should be able to go on a two-week vacation and everything will work just fine without you. But for that to happen you need to do the legwork up front.
The fact is, people and their behaviors are critical for a successful business, not systems, processes or standard operating procedures (SOP’s). In Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he identifies the five root causes of a dysfunctional team, and without trust, you cannot have a functional team. Trust is the key to a successful business, and one way you build trust is by talking to your team members about things that matter to them. As you did in the on-boarding process, you need to stay current on the major issues going on in their life. This doesn’t mean you are their best friend, but you need to be genuinely interested in them if you want to build trust with them. Otherwise, you are just a boss, and they will not go over and above with you.
I am going to give you a meeting process to follow; each meeting has its own specific purpose. For example, you are not going to bring up personal goals during a team meeting unless they achieved a goal they want to share. These rules / guidelines may seem a bit much at first, but as you consistently do them, you will find them to become easier and easier and not take very much time up at all. They will become second nature to you.
One of your goals is to encourage your team members to do more positive behaviors and do less unproductive or negative behaviors. No news is not good news; it’s very bad news. You need to be constantly encouraging the behaviors you want to see in your business. If someone stays late for a customer, make a point of thanking them for going above and beyond for the customer. If someone finds a cheaper supplier, and you are going to save 20% on your supplies, thank that team member!
Establish a Meeting Flow
There are three types of meetings: daily check-ins, weekly team meetings, and monthly one-to-one individual team member meetings. I’m going to cover when and why you are doing each of these meetings. Depending on your setup, you may not be able to do all of these meetings, but you need to establish a consistent communication schedule with all your team members.
The goal of the meetings is to have a cohesive team who works well together. If you fail to communicate regularly and consistently, you will find the fabric of your team will quickly evaporate. Earlier, we covered the mission, vision, core purpose—these need to be constantly communicated to your team. Especially the purpose. If the team doesn’t feel as though everyone is headed toward the same goal, then infighting and conflict is sure to arise. Try not to make these meetings too “corporate” and feeling sterile; try to have some fun with them. You don’t want your team members to dread these meetings. When setting up these meetings, you want to create a two-way communication so that you clearly understand what is going on with your team members, and through them, your customers. As well, your team members need to clearly understand where the business is headed and how they are contributing toward achieving that goal.
Daily Check-in Meetings
The purpose of these daily meetings is not to get a laundry list of what everyone is doing for the day. The purpose is to ensure everyone is clear on the quarterly priorities of the business and that they are focused on doing what needs to be done to accomplish those goals. This is a quick meeting, only five to ten minutes. It should be done at the same time every day, ideally early in the workday so that it sets the tone for the day. It’s very important to not let this meeting drag on past the deadline; you may want to use your phone or an app to keep you to the time limit. I also like to do these check-in’s standing up. This signals to everyone that the meeting is going to be quick and focused.
Having these short daily check-ins should eliminate a lot of emails going back and forth throughout the day, saving you much more time than the five or ten minutes you will spend doing them.
If you have urgent problems that can be easily dealt with, this is a great time to quickly discuss and make a decision on how it resolve the issue. However, larger problems should be part of the weekly meeting, not the daily check-in. This gives you an idea of what is going on and if you have any VIP customer or potential problem customers coming in that day. It also reinforces to everyone that you are all working as a team and that everyone’s role is a critical part of the entire business’s success.
The format of the meeting is that you spend a minute or two covering what is new, or the focus for the day. Maybe you want to pick a core value and remind everyone to consciously business that core value throughout the day and week. Next, you want to highlight the quarterly metrics they should be working toward. For example, if your goal is a certain number of procedures per day, let the person responsible for that number announce it to the group. Finally, you give each team member a minute or two for a quick check-in, where they can list their metrics and identify where they may be having troubles. This is when each team member may bring up something they are having a challenge with, like getting help converting more consultations to booked procedures, or getting better results from a particular procedure. And finally, you should end the check-in with some words of encouragement and a reminder to have a great day. Always end on a positive note, since that will set the tone for the entire day.
By having everyone part of the daily check-in conversation, they will not only feel part of the team, but not feel as though they are alone. In some cases, by simply verbalizing your challenges team members end up solving their own problems. If someone is saying everything is going well, you may want to challenge them. In most businesses there are always improvements that can be made. You are looking for your team to help you improve your business and make it more successful.
Weekly Team Meetings
Weekly team meetings are longer meetings, which could be 30-90 minutes, depending on what needs to be covered. By having these weekly meetings on issues, you will often find less time is needed when you are doing the daily check-in meetings, since many will have been resolved as they occurred during the week. If bigger issues come up during the daily check-in meetings, this is when they should be identified and hopefully resolved. That is why the weekly team meeting length can vary so much; you may want to tackle two or three major issues—or there may not be any major issues.
These meetings should be scheduled in advance to ensure they get done. If you don’t schedule them, your team will book customers, and you may find there just isn’t enough time for the meeting. It’s important that you stress the importance of these meetings. I find if you have a slower day of the week, it’s best to book them at the same time on the same day every week. Get your customer care coordinator or receptionist to book them in your electronic calendar and send everyone a recurring invitation for these meetings.
Start each weekly meeting with a review of the business’s vision, mission, core values and quarterly priorities. Then you should deal with the most important issues, since if you put them at the end of the agenda, they often don’t get covered. Some of your meetings will be team-building meetings, where you may want to watch a YouTube video of a new procedure you are thinking about adding to the business or review a procedure you already do. You may want to give out a short book and ask them to read it in the next month. I like to give out the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a short read and has some great communication tips your team can use for both in business and in their personal lives. The Four Agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
To me, those are very good agreements to live by, both when interacting with customers as well as in your personal life.
These weekly meetings also give you an opportunity to discuss future trends, customer procedure requests, and competitors. It’s a great idea to get your entire team to help you in thinking about the business’s future, growth, and about what your competitors are up to. One comment about competitors: make sure your team doesn’t spend too much time and energy focused on every little nuance that your competitors are doing. However, since your team members are talking directly to customers every day, and your customers have probably called or visited your competitors, this is a great opportunity for you learn about what your competitors are doing well and not so well.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to make the most out of your team meetings. Everyone has a different business, so use these as a guide and take any “nuggets” you feel will work for your business!
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