Pre-Meeting: Participants are more likely to own meeting outcomes when they contribute to the content. Recognize your team's knowledge and capabilities by including them in meeting planning and preparation and expecting them to be equal contributors throughout the process. Develop an agenda with input from the group, making sure that the bulk of the agenda is relevant to all participants. Distribute the agenda prior to the meeting, giving everyone the time and opportunity to prepare for the meeting. Ask a different team member to lead at least one portion of every meeting, in order to vary the meeting, access differing perspectives and develop individuals. Ask someone to record the decisions made and actions agreed upon during the meeting.
Meeting: Set a comfortable - even light, fun - tone for your meetings, but take your work seriously. As the team leader and meeting facilitator, it's your job to make sure that everyone contributes to team meetings. It's also your job to make sure that people stay focused and attentive, so meetings don't become time-wasters. This does NOT mean that you should stop any discussion that is off topic - some of your team's best ideas, biggest problems and best solutions will arise spontaneously. It DOES mean that you keep the meeting moving, don't allow anyone to dominate the discussion, stop side conversations to allow each speaker to be heard, confine private conversations largely to the beginning and ending of meetings and manage topics that arise outside the scope of the agenda. You can do that by first recognizing that the topic is outside the current agenda, then deciding (with input from your team, if appropriate) to do one of the following:
- Pursue the new topic in place of the planned agenda.
- Extend the meeting time in order to pursue the new topic.
- Postpone the new topic for a special meeting or until the next regularly scheduled meeting.
Post Meeting: Distribute brief notes from your meeting, highlighting decisions made and most importantly, actions agreed upon, along with the name of the person responsible and the due date. Complete your own action items. If your team meetings are more than a week or two apart, consider sending a reminder and/or checking progress on action items prior to the next meeting, offering help or suggestions if appropriate. Include members in the planning, execution and follow-up of team meetings, always including a round robin report of action items from previous meetings.