“Bob, let’s schedule a sync up before next week’s conference call to discuss the action steps from last week’s sales meeting.”
The remote work revolution is a call to shift away from a culture of never-ending meetings to a culture of flexibility and collaboration. We know there are better ways to get stuff done, and more and more remote teams are employing other methods to replace the traditional meeting.
Even so, all-hands meetings are important for many teams. So quick! Before your next meeting starts, share these tips for improving your team’s meeting culture with your colleagues.
1) Improve Everyday Accessibility
The biggest policy change should be to improve your everyday accessibility to your team members. When you’re working in an online workplace like Sococo and can access any team member at any time (depending on their availability), there’s less need for official timeframes set to discuss “that important thing.” Keep it casual.
2) Just Don’t Have Unnecessary Meetings
Friends don’t let friends waste time. Period. Follow the golden rule and invite others as you would like to be invited.
This step is where management is most responsible for stepping in and holding everyone accountable. If someone is known for calling unnecessary meetings, it’s time to have a frank discussion about how that time can best be used.
Implement a feedback system after each meeting using a survey program, asking teams to rate their own personal ROTI (Return on Time Invested) for each meeting, then establish a policy of eliminating meetings that consistently receive a rating of 2 or lower on a 5 point scale. You’ll be surprised how quickly this cuts the fat from your company schedule.
3) Choose the Right Medium
What method of communication is best for the issue at hand? The more complex a topic or thought is, the more face-to-face time it will probably require.
When communications are straight-forward, fact-based, and face-to-face via video or audio conferencing, leaner methods of communication like impromptu sync-ups can often fill in the gaps without the need for yet another meeting.
4) Appoint a Facilitator
Who’s in charge here?
Virtual meetings can be derailed fast when it’s not clear who’s leading the meeting and why. For large meetings, appoint both a main facilitator and a representative to present the latest information for each category.
In addition to directing the meeting agenda, your point person should be empowered to draw boundaries when a meeting has gone over time or off-topic.
5) Implement Time Limits
Set realistic time-frames to cover the meeting topics at hand, then make it a habit to stick to them. If a meeting is going over time, the facilitator should note the end of the scheduled meeting and give everyone attending the opportunity to move on as necessary.
If ongoing conversations are between just a few individuals, ask those individuals to sidebar the conversation and allow the main meeting to wrap up.
6) Be Stand-Up People
Studies show that stand-up meetings keep workers on-task and focused, thereby eliminating unnecessary talk, leading to shorter meeting times and more engaged employees. They also noted that employees were less territorial when standing than when sitting, making them more likely to be creative and flexible.
7) Consider Time Zones and Timing
If you must hold a meeting, establish an ‘after-9-before-5’ policy. Meetings should not be held before 9am or after 5pm in anyone’s time zone. If a meeting is not within the normal workday, not only may your employees grow resentful, but they also may find it difficult to engage, rendering that meeting unproductive. Use one of the many apps available to assist with scheduling meetings across time zones.
Additionally, do a group survey to get a feel for when your team likes to meet. Though recent studies may suggest that 3pm on a Tuesday is the quintessential meeting time, do your due diligence and see what your team likes to do.
8) Commit to a Meeting Style
If you have regular ad-hoc meetings, don’t bog down your schedule with a long weekly stand-up. Get work done in real time by meeting ad-hoc or vice versa, depending on what works best for your team.
Many startups swear by the practice of a daily scrum meeting—a standing meeting with the team members you work most closely with wherein you each post three things you’re striving to accomplish that day. If your team member can help or needs to give input, this standing meeting is the point at which they do so.
9) Record Meeting Notes in Accessible Shared Files
By recording the important points of a meeting in real time, you enable your team to analyze and reflect on the topics discussed in the meeting as it happens or a few days later. This practice also ensures that there were no misunderstandings.
Plus, allowing all participants to edit or ask questions on the document is another way to give everyone a voice in the conversation.
10) Set Expectations
Any meeting you have is only as strong as the meeting’s agenda. Your agenda should articulate what the goals and expectations are for the meeting; it must be succinct, clear, topical, and goal oriented; and before the meeting ends, the facilitator should go back to the goals and re-summarize what was accomplished.
Most importantly, the facilitator must communicate the follow-up plan, including action steps to be taken by all participants. Meetings don’t happen in a vacuum.
The idea of another meeting shouldn’t make your whole team groan. Take a look at your calendar and find places where you can cut back to only the most essential meetings, then decide who’s in charge and set clear expectations. You can also encourage ad hoc collaboration and provide a centralized space for meetings by bringing your team to work in Sococo. Learn more about Sococo.