8 Steps to an Effective Team Meeting

• Shawn Scott
• Project Manager
• Rafn Company

Construction teams bring together a broad group of people to accomplish a set task: to construct a building. Teams can be made up of the building’s owners, construction professionals, architects, engineers, and various other consultants. Each brings their own personality, perspective, and expertise to the team. Though sometimes a struggle, working together in team meetings should be an efficient means to communicate and coordinate work on a project. Here are eight steps that we’ve identified to help teams keep their meetings running smoothly.

1) Get to Know Your Team Members

Understanding others communication styles and personality types will lead to maximum collaboration and effectiveness, will ensure efficiency, and will generate enthusiastic attitudes. Bonding with your team members will allow everyone to learn how to interact best with each other.

2) Create a Team Charter

Chartering is the act of guiding a team through the process of defining itself; purpose, scope, goals, behaviors, roles, responsibilities, and other elements that give teams the clarity and purpose essential for high-quality performance. Define what the team is trying to accomplish overall and what the team is trying to accomplish together. Develop a team mission statement. Look to achieve unity for moving forward with the project.

3) Clarify Roles

This is not necessarily project roles, but what each person‘s role is in the meeting. These may include the leader who calls for the meeting; a facilitator who keeps the discussion and decision-making process moving forward; a recorder who tracks agenda items and decisions made; and a timekeeper who reminds the facilitator when the allotted time is up for a given item. Ideally, the facilitator takes responsibility for the process, but is not to be involved in the content of the meeting, thus allowing the leader to be a full participant.

4) Enhance Participation

Dominant participants can stifle collaborative problem solving and creativity among participants, however, they often have good ideas that deserve consideration. Conversely, for a meeting to be effective the facilitator must engage the quiet participants as well. Each person should get their time and their turn to make their opinion heard. All attendees should listen to each conversation, even if they’re not directly involved. The facilitator can also use an open table time at the end of the meeting to make sure each person has had a chance to voice their opinion.

5) Communicate Openly and Honestly

Start by identifying the meeting's ground rules; agreements about the expected behavior of the group. It's important that ground rules represent a consensus and are agreed upon by the entire group. Remember that no one communicates perfectly. It’s important to be patient and not plan your response before others have finished sharing their perspectives. Listen to what they’re saying with openness and patience. Draw from each member’s unique capabilities, knowledge, and experience.

6) Align Diverse Goals

First recognize that each member has their own needs and their own agenda. Each participant should seek to understand others and help others succeed. Success is reached if each person feels that, whether or not they prefer a given decision, they will support it (and will not undermine it) because it was arrived at openly and fairly and is the best solution for this group at this time.

7) Celebrate success

Share successes with passion and energy. Verbally call out people by name. Do it in real time rather than saving for later. Praise has a greater impact when delivered publicly and timely. Make it a habit for everyone on the team to recognize others. And make sure to not only celebrate successes but share the steps that were taken to achieve them. Sharing success stories is a practical way to pass on best practices to other team members as well inspire others forward.

8) Assess Team Effectiveness

The leader's perception of how a meeting went can be quite different than participants' experiences of the same meeting so it is worth attempting to evaluate and improve. Use the plus/delta feedback mechanism: what things were good (plus)? what things should change (delta)? Take the temperature of the group often. Discuss the current workloads of members and adjust meeting roles accordingly. Aim to work smarter, not harder.

Keeping a group functioning smoothly as a single unit, working toward a powerful shared vision of accomplishment is not always an easy task. Conducting effective meetings can help project teams efficiently and effectively solve problems, develop stronger bonds between team members and maximize overall project success.

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