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Meet with your team often enough to understand what’s happening and build a relationship, but not so much to be an overbearing micromanager.
The number one thing that teams will complain about is the number and duration of meetings they’re in during the week. It doesn’t matter if they have relatively few meetings compared to you. It matters how it compares to other teams in the organization.
The manager with too many meetings is overbearing, constantly asking for status updates, and is getting in the way of the team getting work done. The manager who doesn’t schedule many meetings won’t get recognition for it, but over time, people will talk and compare notes. When they do, they’ll realize that some teams have way more meetings than you do.
Essential Types of Team Meetings
There are two types of meetings you should have with the team. First, you have your process meetings, which are part of running and monitoring your process (daily standups, planning meetings, etc.). You should run a process that enables your team, and part of that has whatever meetings you need to have to understand the current state of the delivery. The second type of meeting is to announce significant organizational changes - new additions, team member departures, organizational realignments, etc. Anything that will impact the team and operate is worth a meeting.
When to Opt for Email over Meetings:
- News - Many meetings where you tell the team something new in the company could be an email. The only reason to have it in person is to provide real-time Q&A or if you want to keep it more confidential. I say more confidential because though you don’t have to worry about someone forwarding your email if you meet in person, people may still relay what was said even if it was in confidence.
- Status update meetings - unless it’s part of your process, send an email for status updates or refer people to your status tracking tool. You may be concerned that people won’t read your emails, but that’s a different problem. If you have to treat your team like many kindergartners who have to be sat down to explain something to them, you don’t have a very mature team.
- Changes to company policies. Send the email explaining the change (or forward the email from HR). If you need to follow up in person for confirmation, that’s a shorter meeting.
There’s a cadence to meetings, but don’t make the tempo too frequent and burn out your team. There’s a reason football teams (American or FIFA) have a pregame, halftime, and postgame team meeting. If you have an important meeting after every down, you will burn out your team and slow the game’s pace.
Thinking of it another way, look at meetings as a potential anti-pattern. If the only way to guide your team is in-person meetings, you will have problems scaling as you grow and open other office locations.
Managing the frequency and nature of team meetings is a delicate art that requires thoughtful consideration. Remember, the goal is to foster a productive environment where communication is efficient and team members feel valued and not overwhelmed. Striking the right balance is vital. Think of meetings not as a default mechanism but as a strategic tool to be used judiciously. By adopting a mindful approach to meeting scheduling, focusing on essential interactions, and leveraging asynchronous communication methods like emails where appropriate, you can build a team culture that is both collaborative and respectful of everyone’s time.
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