Like it or not, managing a team often means sitting your direct reports down for regular meetings -- meetings they'd probably rather not attend. It's not that team meetings have to be boring or unproductive; it's that so many managers fail to make the most of that carved-out time. A better approach? Make your team meetings relevant, informative, and even enjoyable. Here's how.
1. Have an agenda
When your team members are up against deadlines, the last thing they want to do is spend an hour in the middle of the day rotting away in a conference room for no good reason. So give them a reason to want to be there -- namely, by sending out an agenda prior to each meeting with a summary of the items you plan to discuss. This way, your direct reports can not only better prepare, but feel more justified in taking the time out of their busy schedules. Better yet, offer your team members an opportunity to add items to that agenda -- within reason, of course. That way, your regular meetings can serve as a forum for them to discuss concerns or offer updates on different projects.
2. Make sure the time works for everyone
When it comes to scheduling meetings, it's not always possible to please everybody. But that doesn't mean you can't try to take your team members' various needs into account when choosing your meeting slots. If, for example, you have a direct report whose commute is unpredictable, avoid setting that meeting for first thing in the morning. Or, if you have someone on your team who needs to leave at 5:00 p.m. sharp every day to pick a child up from day care, don't schedule that meeting for 4:30. A bit of basic courtesy can go a long way toward making your team meetings far more tolerable.
3. Solicit feedback
Maybe you don't need a team meeting once a week, or once a month, or however often you schedule yours. Or perhaps the opposite is true -- your team stands to benefit by gathering more frequently. If you're looking to improve the way you run team meetings, ask your direct reports for feedback on every aspect of the process. Are your meetings too long? Too short? Do they fail to address key issues that should be discussed? Reviewing feedback every so often will help those meetings best serve your team, which is what they should be doing in the first place.
4. Let others take the stage
Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you should be doing all the talking at team meetings. If you've been known to monopolize the stage, try giving others a chance to present or even lead those meetings on your behalf. This way, your team members will be more engaged, and they'll all get a chance to share their thoughts without having to worry about interrupting you.
5. Provide refreshments
If there's one thing that makes meetings a more positive experience for everyone involved, it's having a little something to nibble on during that time. Assuming it isn't cost-prohibitive, try investing in a small snack or jug of coffee for those meetings to perk your participants up. If you have a large team and that's not in your budget, suggest a rotating schedule where one or two people are put in charge of refreshments each time you meet (you go first, though). This way, everyone will have a little something extra to enjoy in addition to your captivating team updates.
Though team meetings are often a necessary part of managing a group of employees, they don't have to be the dull, useless experience they often are. Pledge to incorporate these tips, and before you know it, your meetings will be something for your team to look forward to rather than dread.