Use meetings for a purpose. Have an agenda
Stand ups or other updates on work status and any blockers
Retrospectives – sessions asking what has gone well, not so well and what can be improved over a period of time.
Discussions about ways of working that take ideas from the retros and aim to put them into practice.
Development sessions: for example, discussing the vision and values of the team, or one team member doing a demo.
Collaboration sessions such as brainstorming new ideas.
Get to know your team’s preferences
Some people prefer to see documentation before, read it and reflect on it. Some like to be able to write questions and have written answers. This can be done using a chat function during or after a meeting. Some like information presented to them during a meeting and to ask questions on the spot.
Provide opportunities for different types of interaction. Find ways to let people contribute in the ways that feel right for them. Experiment and mix it up with different formats and get feedback on what works and what doesn’t. That includes thinking about the mix of in person and virtual meetings.
Also it’s good if there are regular opportunities for the team to get to know each other so they can build good relationships, understand each other’s strengths and preferences, and have fun.
Provide structure and flexibility
Different types of meeting will have different structures. For example, if the meeting is a collaboration session it may help to set expectations of the outcome, expectations of contributions from the team and any ground rules that might be useful as well as any time constraints. It’s good to have some structure, not too much that it becomes laborious, and not too little that it feels directionless.
Above all, build trust
For a team to be high performing as well as unstressed they need team meetings that promote:
- Psychological safety to express ideas, questions, concerns and mistakes openly without fear of humiliation, judgement or punishment.
- Sharing knowledge and expertise generously.
- Use of critical thinking not criticism.
- Honesty expressed with respect. THINK is it True, Helpful, Insightful, Necessary, Kind?
- Celebrating successes.
- Learning from mistakes and missteps.
- Trying new things.
- Team decisions on how the team works.
- Ownership of work across the team.