Weekly team meetings are important checkpoints for everyone to share updates, track progress, and bond as a group. But according to a survey of executives, more than 67% of meetings are unproductive. To say this statistic is troubling is an understatement. If unchecked, unproductive meetings can eventually lead to unmet quarterly goals, disengaged teams, and lackluster company performance on the whole.
As a leader of an in-person or remote team, it’s important to identify what’s causing your unproductive meetings and take action immediately. Unfortunately, it’s rarely as straightforward as one cause and one simple solution. No matter how great your team is, maximum productivity 24/7 just isn’t possible. There are natural ebbs and flows to efficiency, and everyone needs time to regroup and recharge — but that doesn’t mean you can’t find areas for improvement.
When you notice dips in meeting productivity, it’s important to address this problem head on and begin the troubleshooting process with your team. In this post, we’re sharing our tips for scheduling and hosting weekly team meetings that are sustainably productive.
1. Audit your weekly meetings
Regularly scheduled audits are a cornerstone of any successful B2B or B2C company. And that’s because the processes that worked in the past might not in the present day. Whether your team specializes in marketing, sales, customer service, or another area, it’s important to audit your meeting calendar in a similar way that you would your website or social media.
Unlike website and social media audits, however, this type of audit requires more of a hands-on approach than an automated one. The intention of this audit is to identify what works and doesn’t work in your team’s current meeting setup. A good way to jumpstart this process is to start asking the following questions:
- Is it sustainable for my team members to have x amount of weekly meetings?
- How long are these weekly meetings? Should they be shorter or longer?
- Are any weekly meetings excessive or redundant? In other words, could the information be condensed into an email or memo?
- What is the purpose of each meeting, and is it being fulfilled in the most effective way?
Mulling over these questions on your own is important. But to fully assess the current standing of your team’s weekly meetings, you need to bring these questions to your team. This brings us to the next tip.
2. Make sure you’re not burning the candle at both ends
A leading barrier to productivity is burnout. In a remote work setting, burnout could be caused by virtual meeting fatigue, isolation, or the lack of home and work-life separation. So whether you’re meeting in-person or running virtual meetings, it’s important to make sure that your team isn’t overextending their efforts and burning the candle at both ends.
Before you make any changes to your team’s meeting schedule, take advantage of the one-on-one meetings you have with them. Set aside time to ask them how they feel about the current meeting protocol. This is your opportunity to ask the questions from the previous section and find out their perspective. Do they feel overwhelmed and overbooked for meetings? Is the amount of time they spend in meetings making it more difficult for them to meet deadlines? Could the meetings themselves be more streamlined and structured?
By speaking to your team members individually, you walk away with feedback that can help you make informed improvements to the weekly meetings. But this same principle applies to you as well. Leaders in middle management spend 35% of their time (minimum) in meetings. And leaders in upper management spend half of their time in meetings. And if you are feeling burned out and overwhelmed, it can be extremely difficult to prepare for and run weekly team meetings. That means revamping your weekly meeting schedule is just as important for you as it is for the rest of your team.
3. Don’t be afraid to cancel meetings that aren’t effective
Preparing for weekly meetings can be extremely time consuming. You could be spending 4 hours each week, if not more, in prep mode alone. As you audit your meetings and speak one-on-one with your team, you might discover that certain meetings are critical while others aren’t.
To find out what should stay and what can go, you need to take a serious look at each meeting on your team’s schedule and define each meeting’s purpose. If a meeting is necessary but not on a weekly basis, this is your opportunity to change it from weekly status to bi-monthly, quarterly, etc. Instead of having a retrospective meeting every week, maybe you dial it back to twice a month. Or, conversely, if your team would benefit from more consistent kick-off meetings, maybe you change a quarterly meeting to a weekly meeting.
The important thing here is to look for ways to meet your team’s needs — whether that means decreasing or increasing the amount of weekly meetings, or the time spent in said meetings.
4. Ask your team to submit topics ahead of time
Now that you’ve assessed and made adjustments to your team’s weekly meetings, the next order of business is to optimize the time your team spends in meetings.An effective way to do this is to plan and structure your meetings ahead of time. You should approach this process as a collaborative effort. For instance, ask your team to submit IDS (Identify, Discuss, and Solve) topics a couple days before the scheduled meeting.
Let’s say you have a weekly kick-off meeting every Monday, and the purpose of this meeting is to prepare collectively for the week ahead. In this scenario, your team could add any questions or concerns they have about the coming week to a running document. Then, in the meeting, you can use this document as a guide to discuss your team’s concerns and work toward solutions together.
Bonus: Use a note taking tool like Hive Notes to create an outline and share the agenda with participants before the meeting starts. This way everyone can add their ideas to the same place. And with a “Project Kickoff” template already built for you, there’s really no excuse.
However you structure your team meetings, what matters most is that you give these meetings direction. That way, your team can remain focused on the topics at hand and stay within the allotted time frame.
5. Start working during meetings with Hive
Think your team’s meeting workflow might be due for an upgrade? If you’re looking for a way to combine your project management tool with real-time team communication — so you don’t have to wait until after your meeting to get to work — you’ve come to the right place. Collaboration tools like Hive are built to help you do just that. So how exactly can Hive help you start working during your meetings?
Hive Notes is an especially useful tool for weekly team meetings, as it lets you create an agenda and share it with all of your team members before the meeting starts. And with Hive’s Gmail, Office, and Zoom integrations, you can link any Note directly to your calendar and launch Zoom meetings from the same screen. That way everyone can easily find the Note and keep all meeting communications connected.
During your meetings, all team members can collaborate in real time by adding text, images and comments in the same note. From there, turn any talking point into an actionable next step, assign it to a team member, and even set a due date. These actions will appear in your Hive dashboard, so you can keep the momentum going whenthe meeting ends. And when it’s time for the next weekly meeting, simply open the note and add a new meeting entry to keep all notes in one single thread. Its the meeting tool you never knew you were missing.
When it comes to optimizing your team’s weekly meetings, you should consistently reevaluate the way you prepare for and run meetings. Don’t hesitate to question why protocol is the way it is — even if you yourself are the one that set it up that way. After all, if you don’t take a moment to look at your processes, you may never realize that you and your team members are simply going through the motions.
Building out a calendar of highly productive weekly team meetings is only possible if your entire team is on the same page. By following these tips and utilizing tools like Hive, you can make sure that your team is a major contributor to your company’s long-term growth.
This guest post was written by Mackenzie Scott. Mackenzie is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a royalty free music company that provides filmmakers, creators, and advertisers with a range of stock music, like royalty free ambient music.