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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Aug 21, 2020


In this week’s Leadership Today podcast we look at a structure for team meetings to bring out the best in your people.



Hello and welcome to episode 91 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at how to structure team meetings to bring out the best in your people.


A study released in July 2020 looked at the impact of pandemic-related lockdowns on over three million people across North America, Europe and the Middle East. Scouring through de-identified data from a technology firm, they found the number of meetings per person increased 13%, as did the number of attendees per meetings (14%). However the average length of meetings decreased by 20%, with an overall impact of people spending 12% less time per day in meetings. So more, shorter meetings with more people, but less time per day in meetings overall. But how effective are all those meetings?

In episode 89 we looked at ways to make meetings better. Last week in episode 90 I shared a monthly one-on-one meeting structure. This week we round out our focus on meetings by walking through a team meeting structure I have been using for years.

You will find the structure in the show notes. It includes:



What’s going well?



What’s not going well? What's getting in the way at work?



What are the current priorities as a team?



How can we best support each other?



What is on the horizon that we are noticing?

Anything else to discuss?


Action Items

Review action items from previous month

Add any new action items


It’s important to start off with the positives and a reflection on what is going well. Depending on the size of the team this might involve some time for people to share the positives in twos and threes before summarising them back to the broader team. It’s really easy to skate right past the positives. We have a tendency to underplay our successes as we shift our focus to the next big thing. However celebrations are important. Use the positives part of the meeting to recognise these accomplishments.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the discussion of positives is followed by negatives. We can sometimes be scared of talking about the negatives and what’s getting in the way at work. As I’ve shared before, frustrations have a disastrous impact on well-being and productivity. We need to air the negatives, but also bring a focus on improvement and action.

Next we cover priorities. To be clear, this isn’t about having each individual share their own priorities, but rather looking at priorities at a team-level. This discussion helps everyone to have a shared understanding of what really matters.

That leads naturally to a discussion around support. Given the priorities and challenges we have discussed, how can we best support each other? That includes supporting each other by sharing around the work load, but could also include other ways of offering support.

I always include a section in team meetings focused on interesting things. This could include things that people are noticing in the organisation, observations about clients, customers or competitors - really anything that might be of interest that doesn’t neatly fit into the positive or negative categories.

The final section of the meeting is focused on action items. We take this time to review any action items from the previous month, and add any new action items.

As per the monthly one-on-one meetings I discussed last week, I share this agenda with the team, and then circulate a bullet point summary of what we discussed afterwards, just in a Word document, with the most recent meeting at the top of the document. That document helps new team members to quickly come up to speed by reviewing the main points from the last few team meetings.

If you are running your team meetings exclusively online, I would add some time at the start of the meeting as a quick check in to see how people are doing. This is particularly important for new team members who may not have met others face-to-face. You might also profile a different team member each month, having them share something about themselves like a favourite holiday destination including a photo. Building trust and connection is very difficult online, so it’s worth building that into your meetings if they are exclusively online.

And you may be wondering about the monthly timing for these meetings. By all means you can meet with your team more often than monthly, however I believe it makes a big difference to have a more formal meeting once a month.

As always I love receiving feedback on episodes. You can make contact via the website at Leadership.Today. That’s where you’ll find today’s show notes, complete with the meeting structure that you’re welcome to adapt for your team. Have a great week.



Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work

Evan DeFilippis, Stephen Michael Impink, Madison Singell, Jeffrey T. Polzer, Raffaella Sadun

NBER Working Paper No. 27612
Issued in July 2020