It pains me to say, I have seen it firsthand. Whenever accountability is on, I see people turning the other way and hiding from me when they see me coming or requesting a meeting ? especially when cash flow and/or leads are in trouble. I have walked into (too) many meetings when I am in overdrive mode and inspecting every detail and holding people accountable, and I have felt the energy in the room deflate the second I walk in. People don’t even want to be around me. We’ve discussed how necessary leadership is to any growing company and how it can be a lonely place for a leader to balance the needs of their team with their own and try to enroll (and excite) their team into WHY this is beneficial for them.

We’ve shared how the strategy of “leading by example” can provide leadership for your team in a leveraged, structured manner. Here is another strategy to produce results, while allowing you to maintain a balance between the demands of your team and your own needs.

The Setup for a Productive Week

Team meetings are often a giant cluster of miscommunication; half the team is arguing about HOW to do something, while the other half is daydreaming. At least one person is upset and at least one is just sitting there shaking their head “YES” to everything to keep the peace and hopefully get out of there. However, with the day-to-day reaction to whatever is the hottest (and loudest) in a small business, it’s impossible for a team to be effective and avoid miscommunication without having intentional, uninterrupted meetings once a week, as a group, on goals and issues that impact the team. It also makes sense to make group announcements ONE TIME to everyone, versus FIVE TIMES to each person individually, or worse, getting stuck in an email game of “communication ping pong.”

Most team members run and hide from any mention of a “meeting.”  They simply want to get their work done. They don’t want to talk about it or strategize about it ? they just want to do it! And God forbid, if they do it wrong, they don’t want to have 10 more meetings about how to do it right.

As much as we can commiserate about sitting through long, drawn out, useless meetings with endless discussions and nothing accomplished, it’s imperative that you set your week up to be productive with the following HOUSE RULES for running a concise, effective weekly team meeting where everyone gets their needs met:

  1. Start your week with a team meeting, whether Monday or on your company’s first business day of the week. Who needs a meeting at the end of the week to discuss what’s already happened? Monday team meetings help plan for the week and get everyone on the same page ? think locker room huddle before the Super Bowl.  It MUST be on the same day, at the same time each and every week, so everyone can plan on being there. This meeting is sacred and should never be postponed.
  2. The meetings should be no longer than an hour. Any longer and we tend to look for trouble and drama.
  3. Everyone attends the meeting ? from the boss to the receptionist. No exceptions. That’s why it’s called a TEAM meeting.
  4. All phones are turned off! Office phones go to voicemail with a recording that lets callers know you’re in a team meeting from X a.m. to X a.m. and will return calls at X a.m. No cell phones or tablets. (We know those little devices makes you feel very important … but they are a blatant display of disrespect. And we promise your listserv email responses of “me too” can wait an hour.)
  5. Create ground rules for communication, i.e. levels and deliverability of honest-while-respectful information, accountability, not taking things personal and the freedom to have a sacred container for such communication in the spirit of reaching goal. Too often if you don’t set that stage up front, people will get upset (usually by the end of the first meeting) and stop contributing because they don’t feel safe.
  6. A predetermined, consistent leader should run the meeting with a standard agenda. The leader should never be the owner of the business. Everyone should be made aware of the agenda prior to the meeting and come prepared and organized.  If the team leader is you, take responsibility for bringing the necessary implements (current schedule, copies of tools/worksheets, pencils, etc.). You can prepare for it at the end of the day Friday, or come in early Monday morning ? whatever works for you. (You don’t want to have to say, “I don’t have that” five times during one meeting.) The key is to be accountable. The result is an effective Monday morning meeting and respect from your boss and team.
  7. Keep “Monday morning meeting” agendas and worksheets in front of you all day Monday, until you have all action steps calendared for the bigger strategic items. The easy “gottas” go right from one list to the next until you can knock them off your list, typically by Tuesday. The result is a focused planning day.
  8. At the end of the week, hold a quick meeting to summarize what was accomplished for the week. We call this “The 10-minute team huddle.”

Mondays are “grounding days” and that’s OK! Give yourself permission for Mondays to be the day to do nothing but attend effective, productive meetings in the morning and recover from the fallout of them in the afternoon. Return calls and emails, and accomplish all the “little” things that are delegated to you during your Monday meetings. Call it a huge WIN! The result is that you’ll be able to hit the ground running Tuesday, which will create a productive, kick butt week, because there’ll be no little things hanging around. It also shows efficiency when you complete all those little things right away. Completing all the meeting fallout by end of day Monday also ensures that little follow-ups not immediately handled don’t become major disasters later in the week.

We’ve got a sample “Monday morning meeting” agenda and “ground rules for communication,” right at your fingertips when you join the Team Empower Academy.  Click here now to discover more about empowering your team to step up and deliver!

Molly Hall