Team briefings – a particular kind of meeting…

By Cindy Vallance @cdvallance

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of identifying the purpose and goals of meetings so that the Chair and participants can be clear on what should be accomplished. Regular team briefings are one common type of meeting. How can these be constructed?

Relatively short, regularly scheduled team briefings are most often for:

passing on information…I have news to share with you about …

decision-making…What are we going to do about…?

Depending on the length and regularity of the meeting, there may be time to include:

gathering information…What do you think of …?

problem solving…How should we resolve…?

However, often these last two items may involve additional people beyond those in the immediate team since there may be considerations that would benefit from input beyond the team itself.

A handy discipline to think through the team  meetings process is to apply the five P’s mentioned by Peter McCaffery in his book, The Higher Education Manager’s Handbook: Effective Leadership & Management in Universities & Colleges.

PROGRESS – how is the team doing in relation to specific objectives that have previously been set? It is important for the team to know that while the team’s ‘to do’ list will never stop growing, taking a moment to reflect on progress and accomplishments keeps us motivated to keep pushing ahead.

POLICIES – a shorthand word for what might be any range of initiatives. Are there new activities or changes in policies, systems or processes underway that team members should be aware of? When we are personally deeply involved in something we can forget that others are just as busy with completely different things and won’t have a clue what we are doing unless we regularly find a way to share this information so the team can gain a sense of the whole.

Note: There may be opportunities with the top two items to share information prior to the meeting to make discussion more effective. Depending how large the team is, maintaining an action log (to track ‘progress’) and circulating updates in advance (to share ‘policies’) can be practical ways to keep on track.

PEOPLE – are people joining, leaving, or changing roles? Have team members been involved in activities or attended events where information has been gained that could be usefully shared? Open and transparent sharing leads to a stronger and more cohesive team.

POINTS FOR ACTION – what do we need to do before we meet again? Who will do what? Identifying action points is critical so that discussion at meetings can lead to successful implementation and progress.

PRAISE – do we show appreciation for individuals and for the team as a whole? This important element is often missed in the rush to focus on the ‘what’ but can do much to keep the team feeling positive about the work to be done and the support we have in doing it.

If you aren’t a hundred percent happy with your team meetings, why not try applying the five ‘P’s within your next few meetings to see if the approach works for you and your team? Let them openly know what you are trying. They may have even better ideas.

My next blog: what are some of the challenges and possible pitfalls to avoid when chairing meetings?

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