How To Lead Your First Team Meeting
An Evio Exclusive written by See Girl Work an Evio Community Partner
We’ve all had managers who love to have meetings. But too many of the meetings we attend bring time to a standstill, leaves everyone mentally exhausted and have little to no direct impact on clarifying goals or actually getting the work done. In large corporations or even small agency settings (where everyone’s a “creative”), this can be especially true.
When you’re a new manager tasked with leading your first team meeting, planning and executing a large group gathering can be more intimidating and stressful than attending them.
Getting people to work together isn’t easy. How do you establish clear goals and motivate everyone to contribute? The difference between leading your first team meeting effectively and having everyone just settle in for the snacks, is in how your prepare, plan and run your team meeting.
1. Prepare an Agenda
Preparing an agenda before your team meeting helps you focus and identify the priority topics for the meeting. Send out a call for ideas a few days before the meeting, so that team members can contribute agenda items. When everyone chimes in at this planning stage, it’s less likely to be chaotic come meeting time and everyone feels like their topics are being addressed, thus allowing them to move forward with their job tasks.
If you have a packed agenda, make a decision to table items for later. Be sensitive to the time you are allocating for the meeting and establish priorities from early on. It’s the worst feeling when a meeting runs on and on, eating into your day and work productivity. It’s a good idea to email the final meeting agenda to everyone scheduled to attend the meeting, in addition to having printed copies available at meeting time.
2. Set Goals and Desired Outcomes
Set a serious tone at the start of your meeting by announcing the goal of the meeting and what you hope to achieve by bringing everyone together. By setting these goals early on, the group’s decision-making will be more efficient. Review your agenda items and reference how your planned topics of discussion will support the results you wish to achieve with this meeting.
3. Own Your Leadership
Owning the meeting and your role as a new leader may be the hardest of all the points listed here. Remember, team meetings are not a time to let your guard down and kick back with your team. You have to make it clear who owns the meeting. Get there early enough so that you set the tone, set up all your technology and organize the room so that it reflects your soft skills and leadership style. Hold yourself and your team member to the highest standards of conduct. Refrain from picking on team members, sarcasm or bashing upper management. Think about the kind leader you want to be known for, and then show up to your meeting being that kind of leader.
4. When in Doubt, Over-Communicate
Communicate, communicate, communicate! This cannot be overly emphasized enough. A good habit to develop is repeating back what you hear from others aloud to confirm what you heard is actually what was said. Then write it down. Record minutes or notes from your team meeting. Share on Slack or send a post meeting email with the notes attached, so team members can reference them in the future.
Keep track of action items. At the next meeting, check-back on the meeting notes to report on the status of each action item to monitor progress. Communication will go a long way in establishing the tone of the meeting and will hold everyone accountable for their commitments.
5. Establish Next Steps
Wrap up your team meeting by recapping discussion points, progress, and then using the information shared to establish action items and next steps.
Are You a New Leader?
Team meetings can help complex projects run more efficiently and even help to develop stronger rapport between team members. But when meetings are poorly managed it can be frustrating for everyone and a waste of time.
Taking on a managerial or leadership role for the first time can be challenging, but equally rewarding. Ensure your next meeting runs smoothly, so you can keep your projects progressing on time.