There’s a time and a place for everything, and meetings are no exception. Sometimes you need to gather your whole team together to make sure everyone hears the same thing and gets a chance to be heard. Other times you simply don’t. After all, a team is a group of individuals, each of whom needs attention and care from their managers–ideally in a format tailored to them.
So with that in mind, here’s a meeting schedule, spread out across a typical month, that lets managers bring the whole crew together on a regular basis and check in with your team members one-on-one–all without overdoing it.
Weeks 1 And 3
Team meeting: 55 minutes. Gather the entire team together on a biweekly basis to cover announcements, updates, and coordination in an open, transparent manner. So a few days beforehand, remind your team members to deliver any items or information you’re planning to cover in the meeting. Then compile those into an agenda you can attach to the meeting invitation you send out ahead of time so everybody can come prepared.
Appoint someone to take minutes for each team meeting so ideas, timelines, and accountabilities don’t get lost. At least once a month, it’s helpful to kick off your meeting with a reminder of your company’s mission and values, and the progress you’re making toward your quarterly goals.
One way to do this is to ask a few team members to share one aspect of the organization’s mission that was represented in their activities over the past couple weeks. (You can alternate to different people each meeting so the same people don’t have to weigh in each time–just give the them a heads-up in advance so they don’t get caught without a good answer.) Mission and values may actually only have a mental shelf life of six or so weeks, which makes this a perfect repeat topic for team meetings.
From there, open the floor for your team members to quickly air any concerns before diving into the items on your agenda. Pro tip: If you want to get maximum engagement, particularly from team members who may be looking to take on more challenges, delegate the task of moving through the agenda to somebody else.
Finish these team meetings by asking each team member to briefly describe one challenge and one win they’ve encountered over the past two weeks, and encourage concise group input where helpful.
Productivity check-ins: 25 minutes. Schedule quick, individual chats with each person on your team to get updates on what they’re working on and how it’s going. Each session should begin and end with a plan of what they’re aiming to accomplish over the next four weeks in order to create accountability–but focus here on work assignments, productivity, and progress, not career development. And make sure to document each meeting with a few notes you can revisit before next month’s check-in.
Developmental one-on-ones: 25 minutes. For this check-in, avoid talking about projects, initiatives, or clients. The focus should be on career coaching. At the start of each quarter, ask your team members to identify one or two skills, habits, or capabilities they want to develop in relation to your team’s mandate or your organization’s mission. Keep it simple–only one or two.
Then brainstorm together about the actions they’ll need to take to achieve these development goals. The plan you create together will guide your monthly developmental check-ins, which you’ll use to make sure they’re progressing and offer support wherever it’s needed.
It is a great idea to hold these meetings in a more casual setting like a break-out room. During these career-focused one-on-ones, you’ll want to be more of a partner or mentor than a boss. The foundation for coaching your staff is trust; they need to know you’re committed to helping them improve.
At the end of each meeting, ask your direct report to commit to one step they can take before your next developmental check-in, and ask what you can do to support them in that effort over the next four weeks. Again, document each meeting so you can chart their progress. This collaboration will lead to continual improvement and a better bond between you and your team members.
This monthly meeting cadence can help you cut back on long, boring, unnecessary meetings and focus on building the relationships your team depends on to thrive.
Terry Lipovski is the founder of Ubiquity, a privately held global executive coaching firm that specializes in leadership, presentation, and sales-management coaching and workshop facilitation.