How to lead a productive team meeting

Lee Benson
Feb 27 · 3 min read

Team meetings are a chance for specific team members to discuss what’s most important, dig into what’s working and what’s not, and improve your collective efforts.

These meetings are often informational, rather than a productive conversation where decisions are made. People can feel drained after these meetings and they begin to see meetings as a waste of time.

  • 220,000,000 meetings are held in US businesses each year.
  • Teams collectively spend 15% of their time in meetings
  • Executives consider 67% of meetings a failure
  • 90% if people daydream in team meetings

How do you conduct a productive team meeting?

The tone of a team or collaboration meeting is essential to making this time productive. This conversation should be open, honest, and solution-focused. Radical, but respectful candor is the name of the game. It’s imperative to use active listening to understand your team members and respond accordingly.

Create and follow a standardized agenda. This is the agenda we recommend for a team meeting.

1. Status check-in

Each person prepares 1–3 discussion points other team members should know to make better decisions. If you can help with one of the items mentioned by a team member, say, “I can help with that,” and share a conversation after the meeting to do so.

Facilitator: “What do you need from the rest of us that would help you achieve our MIN goal?”

Contributor: “I need feedback from each department before the client rollout on Friday.”

2. Review what’s most important

Each team should be doing their part to improve what is most important for the organization (e.g. revenue, net profit, etc). Team goals should drive towards what is most important and it’s everyone’s duty to hold each other accountable.

Ask clarifying questions to ensure you have a full understanding of what each team member is doing and why they are doing it. Provide supportive and developmental feedback to one another. Discuss the tangible activities that are underway or planned for that will improve the drivers currently in focus.

Facilitator: “What actions are we taking to improve what’s most important right now?”

Contributor: “We are heavily focused on improving our lead generation and sales process, but our content marketing approach is lacking.”

3. What can be improved

Facilitate a productive conversation by asking questions about how the whole team can do better. Focus on process, not people. Congratulate and encourage one another when individuals make an impact.

Facilitator: “What can we doing better as a team to improve our process and outcomes?”

Contributor: “I think we haven’t been as clear as we need to be with our outside contractors on what we need them to do.”

4. Open table

Though you’re almost done with the meeting, this agenda item can be one of the most critical aspects of the time. Gather feedback from each team members on their key takeaways and mutually agree on any final decisions that need to be made as a team. Discuss how the decisions made will be implemented.

Facilitator: “What final things need to be decided before we leave here today?”

Contributor: “I’d like to make a decision on what two drivers are the most important for where we’re at right now.”

Before you complete any meeting, be sure to review and assign the action items and understand who is directly responsible for each one. Commit to a due date for each item, but if it’s too large in scope, set a due date for coming back to the whole team with a plan. Follow-up on every action item in future 1-to-1s and team meetings to make sure they get done.

Learn how to get twice as much done in half the time. At no cost, ETW will guide your team through a proven way to move past status updates and onto decisions and actions that meaningfully move the needle on your results. Book your session now.

Lee Benson

Written by

I help organizations connect culture to financial results. Founder & CEO at Execute to Win.

Execute to Win

We help teams improve what’s most important, and it all starts with meetings.

More From Medium

More on Meetings from Execute to Win

More on Leadership from Execute to Win

More on Leadership from Execute to Win

How to actually look smart in team meetings

More on Meetings from Execute to Win

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade