Humans are pack animals and we like to be in a team. We get lonely if we don’t feel we belong, and we love the feeling of working on an exciting challenge as a team. How can you, as a leader, make people feel as if they are part of a team? The quickest and easiest way is to have a weekly team meeting.
The Format of the Meeting
People need to physically sit together in order to feel like a team. Being in an open plan office doesn’t count—they have to sit around a table and talk together.
The group size should be between three and seven, and you should sit at a table in a quiet uninterrupted room.
Each person gets five minutes to tell the team what they have been doing since last time, any successes or things they got stuck on, and what they have coming up in the week ahead: meetings, visitors, challenges, and anything they need help with. We don’t solve the problems there and then, as that would take too long—it’s not a problem-solving meeting—but people can offer to meet later and help with anything they can.
The meeting could be on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon, if you want—though I used to like having mine on a Wednesday so there were already things to report from the week, but we could also see what was coming up in the next few days. If people work shifts, then maybe 2 pm is good—the morning shift can stay on for the meeting, the afternoon shift has just arrived, and the late shift, if there is one, will miss one meeting in three—that’s okay.
If you have the meeting weekly, then people can miss one occasionally and still not feel out of touch. Monthly is not frequently enough. If you want to have a daily meeting instead—for example, before the shop opens—then that’s fine, but it needs to be even shorter than the weekly meeting I’m describing.
Informal But Important
The style should be informal and positive. The purpose of the meeting is not to check on people or to criticize those who have had a bad week; they must not come to the meeting with fear in their hearts.
However, it’s a big crime to fail to attend—if someone has a visit with a customer, for example, then why did they book it for the time when we have our regular team meeting? They would need to convince me that it really was the only time they could see that customer!
The Leader’s Role
The chair of the meeting—you, the leader—keeps an eye on time and keeps it motoring along. No red herrings and no getting bogged down in detail or debates! There’s no agenda, no formalities—just quick updates.
It’s a chance for you to see who is pulling their weight and who isn’t, who is happy and who isn’t, the progress of any projects that you’re interested in, and who needs help in any areas. You don’t really comment on this; you just file it away in your mind. Though you might ask a question like, “Dave, how’s the Scottish job going?” if Dave doesn’t mention it in his brief summary of progress.
You, the leader, also partake: You tell people what you’ve been doing and what you’ve got coming up. It’s a great chance to show them that you, too, have lots going on, that you are human, don’t know all the answers, and are helping them, working for the good of the team.
Finally, if you can provide cookies or cake, then people will enjoy the meeting more, as eating together makes people bond even more—there’s just something about food!
Homework: If you are not already running a meeting like this, then how about trying one? If yes, then well done, but still have a look at whether it could be improved.
See you tomorrow—for the lesson about thanking.
Share with friends