For years as an operational and strategic leader for multi-year consulting engagements I was in a role of either planning or participating in the organization of meetings for my collective team’s learning and development. The team size ranged from my direct reports of four- six individuals to a larger matrix team across multiple business units that included close to 100 people, and pretty much every point in between.
I have since moved into an independent consulting role, helping others plan well thought out meetings for learning, development and performance tracking. Meetings positioned not only to engage and encourage the enthusiasm of the team, but also to ensure focused attention and progress towards short and long term goals. Time is money. Pulling teams together as a collective group to review performance is something that, while it adds to expense, is absolutely necessary. A well-executed meeting can either be the heart and soul of a great organization or can be seen as a plague that is resented, chronically infecting an organizational culture with distrust and lack of passion. Meetings are expensive - they consume both time and resources. In order to use them as an advantage, the time spent must be personable, purposeful, informative, encourage sharing of knowledge, ideas and provide an opportunity to identify future needs.
Based on the experience of planning literally hundreds of meetings, following are the most common 5 elements that should be included in planning and hosting a successful team session, large or small.
Organizational metrics – It is important that your team begin their time together discussing the status of operations and the performance of the organization overall. Showing key indicators promotes confidence in the bigger picture and draws out priorities or necessary targeted areas of focus. Having a highly regarded leader in the business present the agenda contributes to individuals feeling essential and necessary for the bigger picture success of the organization.
Feedback on team esteem – Review employee engagement scores, worker satisfaction, etc. People trust their leaders and an organization more if they feel they are being heard, are involved in reviewing the output and are pulse checked for their opinion. This section is often overlooked in meeting planning; its absence can lead to individuals feeling disconnected or disenchanted because they feel that their feedback is not important.
Learning and development– Introduce new skills, opportunities and tools employees can use to build new or hone existing skills. Everyone can benefit from skill building in certain targeted areas related to their role within an organization. Including learning and development in meetings allows individuals to trust they are being empowered to meet or exceed the goals in front of them. Providing ongoing training supports a sense of inclusion and confidence in delivering exceptional results.
Best practice sharing – Demonstrate how peers or other individuals are successful in completing a task, assignment or a sale. Best practice sharing can either be a single section of a meeting or placed strategically in between sessions to provide support for a situation or an overall meeting theme. It also doesn’t have to be complicated, ask someone who has performed a task well to speak at your next meeting for 5-10 minutes on planning and execution. Knowledge sharing contributes to confidence building and grass roots cross training within teams.
Team building – Exercises that encourage sharing and appreciating diverse perspectives make self-disclosure easy and non-threatening. Team building that is designed to be purposeful will tap into the individuals’ personalities and interests. Helping a team to bond is an investment in creating thriving formal and informal networks. Both channels are vital and highly effective as the trend continues toward flatter organizational structures with more cross functional and matrix environments.
Organizing these elements in a productive and positive manner builds trust, confidence, and can enlist individuals within any business to join in sharing and supporting a vision. Use this list as a guide in planning your next successful meeting!