Whether we prefer occasional or more frequent, shorter or longer team meetings, each team member needs a place and time to connect with the entire team, to share their concerns or ideas, to ask questions, to get information, to feel that they are part of something bigger as well as having a contribution to the overall process.
From my experience in Youth with a Mission (YWAM) since 2008, participating in and facilitating a lot of team meetings – and not just in YWAM – I’ve noticed that different members of a team, having different personality types, with different preferences and propensity, have different criteria in assessing the quality of a team meeting.
Jesus is the best example in meeting his team of disciples; (they were not just a group, because they had a common mission and developed complementary roles.) Jesus spent quality time with them, provided them with pastoral care, dined often, had dialogue with each other, were vulnerable and gave feedback. Jesus made sure that they had a wide variety of meeting places, a variety of lessons and experiences, as well as precise tasks, practice and debriefing.
I want to propose 10 features that can make team meetings alive and fruitful rather than dead and boring, but without claiming that they are all applicable to every team and each team meeting.
1.Active participation of all
In YWAM I observe when working and leading in teams, it is useful if different people rotate in leading or facilitating a certain meeting, or when different people are responsible for different elements of the meeting. The dynamic of the meeting is much more pleasant when each member of the team is actively involved in one way or another.
2.A well-defined purpose.
Whether it is a meeting focused on relationships or fun, whether it is a business or organizational meeting, or a more complex one, it is important for participants to know the purpose of the meeting (broad or specific), so that they have appropriate input and expectations.
3.Relevant to the whole team.
It is not enough for the meeting to be necessary from the leader’s point of view; it is preferable for the whole team to understand the importance of the meeting, and for everyone to be convinced that it is a useful meeting.
Elon Musk values essential meetings – not large, but short ones. He encourages people to “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”
4.Value each team member
It is important to consider the uniqueness of each one. That is why it matters to know for each person: the personality type – if he/she processes the information internally (so needs some moments before speaking), or does not hesitate to express his/her opinion immediately (but not necessarily as a decisive opinion but as a way of processing towards that); how can we make sure everyone’s voice is heard; what motivates each one, and what tends to irritate them in a meeting.
5.Energizing, not energy consuming
Each participant can check if he or she is contributing to a positive or stressful atmosphere. Even more important is the approach of the person starting and leading the meeting. This does not mean that tense moments should be avoided at all costs; they are often opportunities to strengthen team relationships.
6.Good time management
Who doesn’t love it when a meeting is scheduled in a timely manner? If it is a regular meeting, it is important to find an optimal frequency and duration. For a fruitful meeting, it is crucial not only to communicate the start time and duration, but also to ensure that they are observed.
7.Interesting, not monotonous
A monotonous meeting is a boring one. Routine meetings can be useful if they contain a certain diversity, variation, and creativity. Personally, I realized this in relation to our weekly staff meetings on Monday morning, when a colleague honestly told us that we could start differently than just sharing about “how was your weekend?”
Especially if it is a working meeting, it helps if the goals are announced in advance, and what is expected of each participant at the meeting.
Team meetings that are alive and fruitful have a good communication or, as our YWAM value no. 18 says, to “communicate with integrity… truthful, accurate, timely and relevant… essential for strong relationships, healthy families and communities, and effective ministry.”
9.Being and doing
Leaders often tend to prioritize either team relationship or team productivity. But the truth is that both are essential. It matters how people on the team are and how they feel (how alive, encouraged and supported they are), but also what and how the team does. A good leader knows that he will not be able to sacrifice the team for the sake of progress, but it will not be enough just to make sure that everyone feels good, if not effective.
For all this to happen, this is necessary…
As any good thing requires preparation, the secret to a good meeting is the meeting before the meeting, as John Maxwell said: “If you can’t have the meeting before the meeting, don’t have the meeting. If you do have the meeting before the meeting, but it doesn’t go well, don’t have the meeting. If you have the meeting before the meeting and it goes as well as you hoped, then have the meeting!”
I hope these thoughts help you. I’m curious what is most relevant for you, and what you think should be feature no. 11.
My name is Mihail Bogdam and I am from Romania, working with YWAM since 2008, and together with my wife Ema have founded and leading YWAM Craiova, in SW Romania, and have two wonderful kids. I am a visionary and a rational mystic. My passion is to stir up and contribute to the transformation of communities through the power and beauty of The Gospel.