Poor team leaders rarely hold team meetings, but holding a team meeting and doing the wrong things isn’t much better. In my experience, many team meetings consist of each team member giving a status report. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong!

Honestly, I don’t understand the logic here. Do these managers think that a status report in front of a group is better or more meaningful in some way than an email status update? More likely, these managers understand that they should be having team meetings, and have some notion of creating a team experience, but just don’t know what else to do in place of the round-robin status report.

If you’re in that camp and you have a desire to build a stronger team, then these simple ideas will have a big impact on how your team meetings look and feel.

A Better Round-Robin

I totally understand the value of having each team member weigh-in and share something in the meeting. It creates familiarity and ultimately trust within the team, but asking everyone to merely report on their status is a staggering waste of time and does little to forge stronger team bonds.

Instead of asking for an update, try one or more of these questions for each team member:

  • What happened this week that was unusual or noteworthy?
  • What did you learn this week?
  • What skills have you been practicing? How is that going?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face in the coming week?
  • What help do you need?

Other Meaningful Team Meeting Activities

In addition to a new format for your round-robin, a regular team meeting presents a great opportunity to build team bonds and problem solve in other meaningful ways. Here are a few activity ideas:

  • Deliver a mini training – take a few minutes and present a short training on a pertinent skill or concept. Or even better, have someone from the team deliver the training with the team leader fully participating as a learner.
  • Reinforce some previous training – we all intuitively understand that training is lost if it’s not used or reinforced in some way. A team meeting is a great opportunity to practice something previously taught or deep dive into a single aspect of a training that was previously delivered.
  • Review an article – I like to promote the idea of ‘team-think’ (not the same as group-think) where teams ponder the same issues or concepts at the same time, typically using some source material to stimulate thought and ideas and to create a common language. Using a team meeting to discuss a previously assigned article is a great way to get your team being creative, challenging norms, and solving problems.
  • Brainstorming a common team challenge – where team members play similar roles you often find that they have similar challenges. Using a team meeting to deconstruct a common challenge and talk about possible solutions can be a great use of team time.
  • Roleplay a common situation – similar to brainstorming a common team challenge, team members that face common situations can benefit from hearing others in the same situation. Perhaps you have a recording of an actual customer call, or maybe it’s just the description of a common situation, team members can benefit from hearing each other work to resolve a common issue.One important point to remember here, the purpose isn’t necessarily to find the ‘right answer’, the purpose is to get different perspectives on the table in order to stimulate thought and experimentation.
  • Participate in a getting-to-know-me activity – effective teams require trust and trust requires a level of understanding among team members. As a result, getting-to-know-me activities are more than touchy-feely activities for your annual off-site. A good get-to-know-me activity should trigger honest sharing that gives an opportunity for understanding and empathy.

One quick note of caution. Moving your status update out of your team meeting doesn’t mean that you should move it to your weekly one-on-one! Instead, weekly updates can most effectively be delivered by email, with a quick follow-up call for clarification if needed. This approach has several advantages including increased efficiency, creating a paper trail, and remaining in place when calendars are such that a team meeting must be canceled.

Additional Reading:
If you’re looking for more cheap and simple tactics to make your team more effective, download my free ebook ‘Boost Technology Team Performance in 30 Minutes: Nine High Impact Activities to Build Engagement, Increase Retention, and Drive Performance’