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Points to ponder

Shruti Mair Sharad |

Regular team meetings are an intrinsic part of every workplace. Some have designated days and times for the meeting, others are more random and impromptu in calling the team to the conference room. Whatever the approach, these meetings do not always throw up desired results due to multiple reasons. Some team heads do not encourage active participation and adhere to a more top-down approach, others keep the proceedings dull and drab, failing to stir the creative of their team members. Some team heads believe that team meetings are opportunities for giving dressing downs to non-performers and thus fail to focus on improvements and outcomes. 

If you talk to different employees from different companies, you will get multiple responses about their experiences at team meetings. Some would say they dread the call for it, others would cite them as active brainstorming sessions that produce viable, sometimes even brilliant ideas from within the team. If you are a team head, looking to improve your team meetings and make them more productive, here are five ways to go about it:

Walk in with pre-defined agenda points: Often despite the best of intentions of everybody involved, team meetings veer into irrelevant territories and discussions which may not be central to the agenda. To ensure the proceedings remain streamlined, it is important to walk into them with a clear set of pre-defined agenda points which should be mailed to all attending members a day in advance. 

This would not only help you to keep the agenda straight, but also allow others to be prepared for the meeting and hit the ground running. Make sure the meeting sticks to the agenda points and veers to others issues only when all listed items have been covered in the discourse.   

Ask everyone to do their homework: As you mail your agenda to the team in advance, also ensure that everyone turns up at the meeting after doing due diligence. They should be aware of the subjects listed on the agenda and be ready with their contributions. For example, if the meeting has been called to discuss, among other things, suggestions for an upcoming event, every team member should be briefed in advance about the event. Time should not be wasted on briefing a few members who are unaware, even as the others. Preparedness also means the team arrives with ready facts and figures that will help the unit take important decisions and calls.

  n Keep it informal: Many employees hate team meetings because they are too rigid and serious. Even as you are making sure the agenda remains tight, do not make the discourse too formal or serious. Let the members relax and talk their heart out comfortably. Encourage a joke or two in between. 

Better is to start on a jovial note and then turn to more serious issues. You can start by asking the members to share interesting incidents or anecdotes that may have occurred in recent times at the workplace.  

Encourage everyone to speak: There will always be some outspoken members and some silent ones in the team. This doesn’t mean the latter do not have good ideas or suggestions. 

They might just be keeping it to themselves. Make sure team meetings are events where each and every member is engaged and given the chance to speak, even encouraged to do so. The team  meetings should never turn into monologues or lecture sessions. This is the worst that can happen to a tam exercise.

Focus more on solutions, less on what went wrong: Something or the other will always go wrong when people are entrusted with responsibilities. However, team meetings should not become platforms of pinning blame and humiliating individuals in front of others. If you are really tempted to give somebody a dressing down, do so in the private confined of your chamber, but never publically. When you are at a team meeting discuss even poor performances in a positive tone and tenor, in a bid to find solutions and focus on outcomes.

The writer is Human Resource Manager, Core Diagnostics