While chatting with a client during an off-site conference they mentioned their love of team meetings. When they told me how they are setup, I have to admit I was a little jealous.
Every week, usually on Friday, the employees gather over beer, wine, and appetizers to casually talk about their week and their jobs. She said they chat about their successes, challenges, and what different things they’re working on.
It sounds like your typically happy hour at your local restaurant/bar, but this company gathering cleverly named the “Friday Afternoon Club” is actually a common infrastructure at many companies these days (so I’ve come to find out). The meeting is informal but it’s regular and provides a relaxed atmosphere for the team to connect with each other outside the office and share ideas.
Often meetings are thought of as boring and waste of time that we would rather spend being productive, but studies have shown that regular team meetings are absolutely essential to a company’s success. There are lots of great tools out there that can boost collaboration among co-workers, but nothing beats regular face-to-face meetings to bring employees together.
Face time increases transparency
If your team mainly communicates via email or text, you may be thinking what you could get from a face-to-face meeting that you can’t get from a team chat based online.
Well, the truth is that people today have grown very skilled at creating a digital personality. We all do this online. They can often hide our frustrations or mask our need for help or a boost in confidence for that tough project.
Regular in-person meetings break down these barriers, increasing trust and transparency in teams. Not only do you benefit from visual cues when meeting face to face, but meetings also help people develop a social identity within the company helping them fit into the group and encourage participation.
Meetings also provide an opportunity for leaders to share their vision for the company. When employees understand the direction the leaders are heading, it’s much easier for them to get on board with company goals.
The ability to contribute to a shared vision is the magic behind those 2 a.m. breakthroughs that are part of every startup story. When people sit around to bounce ideas off one another, it sparks amazing creativity.
When a group collaborates it is actually far more creative than when a single person is brainstorming a solution or next big idea. Groups bouncing ideas off one another often put together several concepts to form the right one.
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How to make it work
With all the positives mentioned above, it’s true that meetings can be a huge waste of time if they are not managed properly.
Back to my client and her suggestion for a productive team meeting, here is what they found works best:
- Ban computers and phones. If the team are using their computers, it shows that they aren’t engaged. However, with that said they also use the honor system in case that emergency does arise and someone has to see to it immediately they leave the meeting quietly with interrupting the others.
- Food. People are just generally in a better mood when they are eating good food. They plan their weekly meetings around the lunch hour so that they can enjoy some locally catered food from a favorite restaurant.
- Share Updates. The weekly meeting is an ideal time to introduce new team members, talk about new partnerships, and give product updates.
- Show appreciation. Point out team members that are doing an outstanding job, let them know they are appreciated.
- Leave time for questions. Encourage team members to ask questions and get answers, let them know that they can openly ask hard questions to management, this creates a transparency and trust between everyone.
With everything above in mind, sometimes it’s just not feasible to conduct a weekly team meeting. Every company is different but using these as guidelines will help. At the very least plan to hold a quarterly team meeting perhaps as a local retreat outside the office.
Company culture is an important indicator of company health. If you can manage your regular meetings well, you’ll soon see a boost in company transparency, creativity, and eventually sales.