As leaders the art of conducting effective meetings is a crucial skill. Far from being mundane administrative tasks, meetings are pivotal moments where strategy, collaboration, and innovation converge. This article delves into the nuances of transforming ordinary meetings into powerful platforms for organizational growth. Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of executive coach Allison Dunn, we explore various types of meetings — from the daily check-ins to the strategic quarterly off-sites — and how leaders can leverage these gatherings to foster engagement, resolve conflict, and drive meaningful progress. Join us as we unravel the secrets to making meetings not just a routine, but a cornerstone of effective leadership.
Here is a simple structured approach that any leader can follow. Embracing this approach to context-setting in meetings might mean holding more meetings. Yes, you heard that right – more meetings. But don’t mistake quantity for a drain on time; it’s about the diversity of meeting types. Ideally, teams should engage in four distinct kinds of meetings regularly. Each serves a unique purpose and adds value in its own way.
Here are four types of meetings:
1. Daily Check-In
Daily Check-in, a brief sync-up to ensure everyone is on the same page. Typically a standing meeting, takes about 5-10 minutes, the agenda is that everyone shares their focus for the day and if their projects/tasks are on track or not. This is a powerful way to keep the team aligned and accountable.
Leadership: Assign the responsibility to lead this meeting to a new member of the team each week.
Health and Wellness: Incorporate a light stretching exercise into this standing meeting to get the blood flowing in the body and the brain.
Culture: Kick off or close the meeting by reciting your core values.
2. Staff Meeting
Staff Meeting is focused on the nitty-gritty, the immediate tactical tasks at hand. Typically, this meeting’s rhythm is weekly or monthly, depending on the size of your team, and runs approximately 1 hour +/-. The agenda is set after the updated metrics are available. This meeting focuses on the near-term objectives and solves for critical obstacles or issues that the team may be facing.
Leadership: Assign ownership of the agenda topics to the appropriate leader to facilitation that portion of the discussion. This sharpens leaders’ communication skills, problem solving skills and public speaking and presentation style.
Health and Wellness: Serve a light healthy nutritious snack for the participants of this meeting.
Culture: Kick off or close the meeting by recognizing a few team members who have acted in a way that reflects the core values of the team or organization.
Remote Work Efficiency: In line with the focus on tactical tasks and near-term objectives, enhancing your remote work efficiency is crucial. To support this, incorporate automation tools for streamlined processes and consider using a background noise cancellation app to create a more focused virtual work environment. These measures aim to improve the productivity and effectiveness of our remote meetings.
3. Real-Time Roundtable
Real-Time Roundtable/Instant Think Tank or Focus Groups are designed to deep-dive into specific strategic urgent issues in pursuit of the best long-term strategies. Such discussions demand a special kind of setting, one that fosters brainstorming, robust debate, and the presentation of diverse ideas. To ensure depth and focus, these strategic meetings should concentrate on no more than one or two major topics, dedicating approximately two hours to each. This focused approach allows for a thorough exploration of each issue, ensuring that the best ideas are not just heard but are refined and developed into actionable strategies.
Leadership: This meeting lends itself to bringing in an outside topic experts, consultants or educational training that focuses on the strategic topic at hand.
Health and Wellness: Consider a venue that has access to a walking trail to get a brief swift walk in between the two topics to clear the head.
Culture: Encourage participants to challenge “group thinking” in a psychologically safe way and set the ground rules of 100% participation.
4. Quarterly Alignment
Quarterly Alignment– a strategic off-site retreat to reflect, plan, and align on broader goals. This is more than just a meeting; it’s a chance for team members to step back from the day-to-day operations, both literally and metaphorically – and work “ON” the business versus “IN” the business. These sessions, ranging from a substantial part of a day to two full days each quarter, are invaluable. They provide a rare opportunity for deep, unencumbered reflection and strategic thinking, allowing teams to emerge with renewed focus and a clear vision for the road ahead.
Leadership: Hire a retreat facilitator to guide you through this strategic thinking process. An experienced facilitator will ensure everyone participate fully and help bring the group to strategic decisions and guide the development of an action plan.
Health and Wellness: Create an agenda that allows for reflection, gratitude, white space, healthy food options, as well as movement or exercise.
Culture: This is an off-site meeting that allows your group to bond over shared meals and social time at the end of the retreat day. Consider incorporating a team building experience during your time together that incorporates play – a team that plays together, stays together!
Meetings are the lifeblood of leadership. They’re not just items on the agenda; they’re where the real work of leadership unfolds. The answer to the dilemma of unproductive meetings isn’t to do away with them. No, the true solution lies in transforming them. It’s about elevating these gatherings from mundane, obligatory sessions to events that are meaningful, engaging, and deeply relevant. When meetings become conduits for real engagement, where every voice is heard and every idea valued, they cease to be mere formalities. Instead, they become powerful tools in the leader’s arsenal, driving the organization forward with clarity and purpose.
We at Deliberate Directions run retreats all over the country and would be happy to strategize on how we might assist you with your next off-site meeting, book your retreat planning meeting, (click here).