Meetings are critical to every organization’s decision-making process. In addition, they can make or break employee engagement, which is vital to growth and sustainability.
Consider a Gallup study’s report that companies with highly engaged workers are 23% more profitable than others.
Conversely, another survey found that 74% of actively disengaged workers are looking for employment opportunities or actively hunting for new jobs.
These numbers show the need to keep staff excited about their jobs, and meetings play a vital role.
What’s worse is that the move to remote work has increased meeting hours.
Team Meeting Ideas to Get You Going
So, how do you change your staff’s views on meetings and boost team engagement? This article shows you different team engagement ideas to keep your employees interested and excited about working together.
1. Set a Positive Tone
The secret to a productive meeting may lie in setting the right mood. People attend meetings with different states of mind dictated by where they’ve been and what they’ve done before the meeting. Consequently, your introductory words play a significant role in setting the mood for the rest of the session.
So, it would be a good idea to start with a smile and share some good news, no matter the reason for the meeting. You can share a funny story, a joke, or optimistic information about another employee. If the company achieved a milestone recently, start with that and how it helps every employee’s prospect.
Engaging them in positive talk is another way to grab their attention. People naturally want to know what’s going on around them. So, giving them a piece of info they never knew about is one way to get them hooked.
Another feel-good strategy is commending employees who have worked hard leading up to the meeting. For example, you can announce bonuses, raises, and promotions during the start of meetings.
2. Change and Shuffle Meeting Venues
While your conference room may be stacked with the latest tech and gadgetry for holding all sorts of gatherings, it doesn’t have the spice of variety. Workers may attach negative sentiments to your regular conference room, in the long run, repressing innovative thinking.
A different location breathes new life into meetings and gets your creative juices following. In addition, a new atmosphere can help build team collaboration and motivate workers to try out new things.
Out-of-the-box meeting locations
You can use unorthodox spaces in the office as make-shift conference areas to drive variety. For example, you could gather staff around the common area for a brief 15-minute session or use the break room.
Offsite locations are also an excellent idea for critical meetings. While they may cost extra, they are often what a company needs to reassess things and boost employee engagement. For starters, they reduce distractions, keep team members focused on the agenda, and encourage camaraderie.
Staying away from the office environment also removes the sense of pressure most employees attach to their workplaces and allows them to think freely. You can organize quarterly or annual offsite meet-ups, depending on your budget.
Here are pointers to note when organizing an offsite conference:
· Carefully manage logistics for the staff or let them know well in time if they’re to sort out transportation themselves.
· Send out the plan and schedule in advance to keep them excited and allow them to prepare.
· Plan other team-building activities like workshops, games, and presentations.
· Ask attendees for feedback about the meeting.
Changing Meeting Settings for Remote Workers
When it comes to remote teams, using a single teleconferencing platform for all your meetings isn’t a good idea. This policy could lead to Zoom fatigue and wear workers out.
Zoom fatigue is the exhaustion that comes from long video calls and virtual meetings. According to a Stanford University study, watching ourselves on a screen for long hours can be mentally exhausting, and the brain works harder when we engage in video-based meetings.
So, try using other channels instead of subjecting your team to daily Zoom calls. For example, you can organize text-based team meetings in a Slack channel. Another idea is running a conference, audio-only call. This way, team members won’t be worried about touching up their appearance to look suitable for a video call.
You can also eliminate meetings where things like email broadcasts will do for announcements.
Changing your location doesn’t mean you should abandon your conference room. Instead, you can shuffle venues to prevent things from getting monotonous and dull. Sometimes, you can switch to a virtual gathering even if workers are in the office. In addition, you can organize in-person meet-ups with remote workers from time to time.
What’s more, try to redecorate and renovate the conference room. Finally, a face-lift gives the place a new look and breathes a new sense of excitement.
3. Change Meeting Formats and Spice Things Up
Most businesses use one discussion style and format across the board, which can be tiring. At some point, staff members no longer look forward to such meetings.
So if you always kick off your work gatherings with the reading of the previous minutes, you can change to a question and answering session, then move on to brief lectures or news or updates before taking on the last minutes. The same should apply to everything that goes on in between.
You can also touch things up by inviting a guest speaker or getting staff members to engage in certain activities to increase engagement. Games like memory wall and code of conduct are great engaging activities.
This way, you’ll be avoiding repetitive patterns and increasing staff interest.
4. Reduce Meeting Durations
According to a Harvard Business Review study, meetings take up 72% of a business manager’s time every week. Since the pandemic hit, upper-level employees are holding more meetings than ever. But it affects lower-level staff as well.
Most teams now conduct hours-long meetings to look at project status and updates, wasting valuable time. Doodle reported that professionals participate in pointless discussions 2 hours a week, which would amount to resources worth $541 billion.
According to research, engagement drops as discussions continue to drag on. For example, you may have almost everyone’s attention during the first 15 minutes of a meet-up and gradually lose them as the session continues. This chart from MeetingKing shows a steady decline in engagement.
|Time of meeting||% of people paying attention|
Source: Meeting King
So, try not to prolong discussions longer than they should run.
Schedule shorter meetings
Whenever you send out circulars, the shorter timeframe should be clearly stated. Employees will look forward to a 30-minute catch-up rather than an hour-long – or longer – session. The duration will also allow them to box their time and arrange their affairs better.
Notify Participants in Time
Ensure every attendee is notified well in time to be punctual and prepare themselves with the required data. You should also circulate the agenda beforehand.
Build a culture of waiting for no one before a discussion starts. Instead, you should commence and close at the stipulated times. This way, people will trust the process and respect the little time you allocate to these sessions.
Stick to Your Agenda
Make sure you stick to the purpose of the discussion and do not wander off-topic. Try to keep your staff focused on the issues you’re there to address.
Don’t Give in To Parkinson’s Effect
According to Parkinson’s Law, a task will expand to fill the time allotted to it. In other words, you’ll exhaust the 30 minutes allotted to a discussion even though you have a 15-minute agenda. So, assess your agenda to ensure you’re not allocating more time than you should.
5. Reduce Meeting Participants
The reason for meetings is to get as much input from everyone as possible. As a result, there’s no point in packing the room with observers in most cases.
According to Robert Sutton, a Stanford University professor of organizational behavior, 5 to 8 people are the ideal number of participants in a productive meeting.
Many managers end up diluting each meeting’s quality because they’re trying to be inclusive. When too many people participate in discussions, there won’t be enough time for each person to contribute, productive back and forth exchanges are minimized, people become less candied, and sensitive discussions are taken off the agenda.
These issues cause people to lose interest in the process, which leads to a lack of preparation and engagement.
On the other hand, smaller participants mean a sense of intimacy, candid discourses, and full participation. With fewer people, everyone can pitch in and pass their points across with enough time. It’s also easy to read the room, pick up non-verbal cues, and engage. What’s more, sensitive matters can be brought up and discussed.
Above all, meetings with fewer participants can be managed better to fit into schedules without going longer than necessary.
So how do you reduce meeting participants?
Identify and Invite the Right People
Before sending out invites, identify the meet-up’s major stakeholders. Make sure they’re directly connected to the issues on the agenda and can contribute. Ask yourself who can answer questions about the topics on the agenda, who has the facts, and who’s on the chain of the decision-making processes. For example, you don’t have to invite other department heads to a department-specific project.
You can record meetings to keep people informed about decisions made during the session. This way, you won’t have to pack the room with observers who are just there to keep records.
Confirm Each Participant’s Availability
Since you’re reducing participants to the minimum, attendance is critical. So, reach out to each attendee to confirm they’ll be present and circulate the agenda well ahead of time.
Schedule Multiple Meetings
If the list of possible attendees starts getting too crowded, you can schedule multiple meetings to hold productive discussions. This way, you’re not cramming many people into one room and rushing the process, especially when critical decisions are to be made.
That said, make sure these gatherings aren’t a waste of anyone’s time. So, please stick to the agenda and keep them as short as possible. Then, you can collate everyone’s thoughts and contributions.
6. Allow Other Team Members to Lead Meetings
You don’t have to oversee and lead every team meeting because you’re the boss. However, allowing other team members to run meetings adds variety to the process and gives your staff new things to look forward to. You also get to reduce and manage your workload effectively.
This approach allows teammates to engage with each other and see their colleagues differently. It also helps your staff hone their communication skills and can be a more robust learning experience than a communication training program.
What’s more, it’s an opportunity for managers to see meetings from attendees’ perspectives. So how do you go about it?
Identify the Right Person
You should do your homework before handing it over to anyone. Make sure you know the team member’s strengths and how well they can handle what’s on the agenda. For example, if the session is about making project decisions, it would be a great idea to assign meetings to people who are actively involved with specific projects.
Also, know when to entrust the discussion to more skilled individuals. For example, someone with facilitation skills should handle complex meetings with many participants. Others can develop with less demanding tasks like project briefs and presentations.
Give them Time to Prepare
You should also notify them in time and furnish them with the agenda. This way, they have enough time to prepare. If the employee doesn’t have enough experience, you can guide them and show them the ropes.
Give Everyone a Fair Chance
Finally, you can create rotating schedules to allow leadership to go around. This schedule should be for regular meet-ups and team briefings. Then, high-stakes discussions can be specially assigned to more experienced employees with strong organizational skills.
7. Organize One-to-One Meetings
The whole gang doesn’t have to be present for meetings. Instead, you can hold one-on-one sessions with staff members to strategize on specific projects and tasks.
One-on-one sessions are also significant when you want to get to the bottom of specific individual issues. They are safe spaces where employees can be candid and free to express themselves, talk about personal work issues, and provide feedback and team conduct.
So how do you make one-on-one discussions work?
You must pick the right time for one-on-one sessions. Thankfully, getting the proper schedule shouldn’t be demanding as you can talk to the staff member and set things up. That said, make sure the allotted time isn’t set in stone and reschedule when other critical matters come up.
Pick the Appropriate Icebreaker
Before the discussion commences, pick out the right words to start with, depending on the employee. It would be a good idea to start with something sensitive and not jump right into business.
You shouldn’t make the employees feel like they’ve come over to receive instructions. Instead, allow it to be a conversation. Listen to them and try to understand every point of view.
Make Sure the Meetings Are Actionable
Ensure that decisions and issues raised during the meeting are respected and addressed. This way, employees will trust the process and engage more.
8. Pick the Best Time for Meetings
According to a study, the best time to schedule a meeting is between 10 am to 12 pm. You’d be right if you guessed that other studies picked out different ideal time slots. While they have their merits, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You have to fix a time that works for your team.
That said, consider scraping Monday mornings from possible time slots unless you need to call an emergency session. Ushering employees straight into the conference room after a weekend of rest isn’t a great idea.
Workers need time to get things in order and start their week. Thus, they won’t be in the right mental state to consume information and make decisions.
So, look at your team’s schedule, analyze their time tracking data to identify idle time, and find the best spot for meetings.
Ensure you’re not asking them to abandon sensitive and important work and ensure you aren’t disrupting workflow.
9. Don’t Organize Meetings When You Don’t Need Them
While meetings are an excellent way for teammates to collaborate and brainstorm, you don’t always need them. When you call meetings for unimportant things, you’re wasting your employees’ time. Instead of organizing an hour-long session, you can send updates via email or share a video broadcast to share brief announcements.
If you must bring everyone together, let it be for a brief update that won’t get in the way of people starting their jobs.
10. Collect feedback
Collecting feedback can save you time and energy when figuring out how to plan meetings. It’s also a great way to understand the impact of meetings on your team. This way, you’ll realize how your brainstorming sessions, project briefs, and presentations have been helping or hurting productivity.
With your team’s input, you can:
- Identify and cut unnecessary meetings
- Pinpoint tedious and time-wasting activities
- Optimize schedules
- Tweak structures
- Fix bad habits
While you can send out a questionnaire after every meeting, it would be best to do them from time to time. This way, you’re not exerting your employees after discussion sessions.
Ensure the questions are straightforward and reassure them the survey is anonymous to get candid answers.
Engaging Employees with the Right Meeting Approach
So, does this data suggest we scrap meetings altogether? Far from it.
Instead, it indicates it’s time to change how we approach and organize them. How else do we get workers to brainstorm, collaborate on strategy, and develop innovative ideas?
After all, a Harvard Business Review study found that collaboration grew by 47% when managers at a firm reshaped agendas and overall strategy. In addition, a Clockwise study reported that 64% of respondents were excited about well-planned meetings.
Always End Meetings with Actions
Whenever you schedule a meeting, you should have a goal at the back of your mind. Then, make sure you’re set on coming out of the room with actionable insights and locked-on decisions. This way, every meeting is productive.