3 Types of Crucial Team Meetings
“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.”
How many times have you been in a meeting and wondered, “Why am I here?” If you’re like most professionals, you lost count a long time ago. Meetings can be tremendous time wasters if they’re not relevant or if meeting participants let discussions veer off. When those are the kinds of meetings you’re used to, looking at your calendar to see a day full of scheduled meetings can be so disheartening – you just know it’ll be a day where little to no work gets done.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A few months ago, Deanna Perkins shared a few tips for more productive meetings. Her post has some excellent information, so I’m just going to add to it by recommending that when you schedule a meeting, consider the purpose: Is it a tactical, strategic, or alignment meeting?
Tactical meetings deal with day-to-day work: who is working on what? What progress has been made? Are there any holdups that need to be addressed? What are the next steps? If they’re done right, tactical meetings can be just a few minutes long.
During our Lean process improvement projects, we recommend standup meetings. These are tactical meetings that ask just three questions:
What projects did you complete yesterday/last week?
What projects do you anticipate completing today/this week?
What is getting in the way of your progress?
If roadblocks are identified in the third question, you don’t start problem-solving during the tactical meeting. You make a note of it and pull in the best person for resolving the hold up outside of the meeting.
In her piece, Deanna suggested asking “Who needs to be there?” Tactical meetings are the shortest and the “who” should be the people doing the work. Decision makers don’t need to attend. Not having them there will help keep the meeting short and prevent jumping into problem-solving mode.
Strategic meetings are about setting vision and working on the business. Where tactical meetings may take place every day or every week, strategic meetings may occur monthly or quarterly.
In her piece, Deanna also recommending asking “What’s on the agenda?” A strategic meeting needs a solid agenda to help everyone bring their best to the table. Defined roles of the participants are a big help.
A Champion helps with the executive level.
A Leader is responsible for any outcomes of the meeting
A Facilitator keeps the meeting on track and ensures that the team is challenging the status quo.
Strategic meetings may be scheduled to solve a particular problem, discuss new opportunities or threats, review progress toward goals, or make hard decisions. These meetings will involve decision-makers, and they’ll take some time. For these, you’ll want to ensure you have an agenda and put someone in charge of the meeting that is ruthless about sticking to it.
Alignment meetings are designed to ensure that cultural elements are in line across the company. They’re the glue for strategic and tactical meetings, because knowing that alignment meetings occur helps tactical and strategic sessions go better. Think of these as leadership-level meetings that are checking on progress and making sure we’re aligned with strategic vision.
For instance, if your firm is undergoing a transformation and working to expand your service line offerings, strategic meetings will measure progress toward goals, but alignment meetings will ensure that everyone is still rowing in the same direction.
Alignment meetings may take place annually or more often if needed during times of organizational upheaval. They’ll ensure that projects the firm is working on are aligned with the firm’s strategic vision. As always, they need an agenda, and defined roles to be effective and stay on task.
Agendas and attendee participation are what drives meeting effectiveness. By identifying the type of meeting you need to have, you can create a plan and ensure that the right people are there. Only then can meetings lead to productive and positive results.