Great meetings start with structure.
One of the most critical parts of a team dynamic is the meeting structure. There are many ways to implement policies with your hybrid workforce that facilitates connectivity, one of the most vital being the hybrid meeting. Margaret Heffernan from TED Books said it perfectly: “Investing in connections among team members both increases productivity and reduces risk.” Less risk and more productivity? Music to our ears. Investing in connections can take a lot of different forms, but if you’re encouraging “in-person” communication, meeting structure and etiquette is important to address.. After many, many hours spent on Zoom, here are some of our hard-won learnings:
- Check Your Meeting Type: Before you send out a calendar invite to your team, ask yourself if the goals of this meeting can be easily explained by a Quicktime or Loom Video instead. Fun fact: Loom has a free option and is an easy way to quickly record from your desktop and record comments from team members. Each video is automatically uploaded to your Loom profile, and there is a link created automatically for easy sharing.
- Default to Channels over DM’s: DM’s fill up quickly and are hard to track down. Start building a habit and default post in Slack channels so that people can collaborate easily, jump in when they have an idea, and track decisions and action items as they’re created.
- Inclusive Meetings: Make sure that your hybrid team has equal speaking time. We discuss proximity bias in other articles (HYPERLINK) and are always focused on making sure that all employees are perceived as and treated as equal members of the team. We’ve done a lot of organization around inclusive hybrid meetings, this three pronged approach has been useful to us and hopefully can be useful to you as well.
- Create Hybrid Meeting Structure: Figure out how you want to structure your meetings. Do you want to shoot for shorter meetings and more online touch bases? Do you want to save meetings for brainstorming sessions? What are things that you can do to make sure your meetings stay organized and everyone feels included?
- Hybrid Meeting Training: Once you figure out your hybrid meeting policies, invest time into training your team on updated meeting protocol. It’s easy to become distracted, ignore the screen, and start side conversations. Having strict outlines of expectations gives everyone an idea of what to plan for.
- Hybrid Meeting Implementation: Creating the policy and conducting training are two great steps, but none of it matters if the concepts are not implemented correctly. Invite your employees to, or challenge them to make sure everyone stays on track. Celebrate meetings that stuck to the new structure and spend time brainstorming (in an #improvements Slack Channel) how you can better prepare other meetings.
- Zoom Etiquette: Keep everyone in the loop by creating structure at the beginning and end of meetings. For example, try starting with a 30-second intro from each team member talking about their big goals this week and an all-hands sign-off at the end where everyone unmutes and says goodbye.
- Collect Feedback: Listen to your employees and collect feedback after meetings with a like/wish/wonder prompt. Your employees are creative, and sometimes they may have suggestions that you may not have thought about. Employees echo the sentiment for a simple and productive work environment. It benefits everyone.
It’s easy to tell the difference between a team that’s excited to come to work and one that isn’t. Everyone deserves the ability to connect with their coworkers and feel supported by a community. This camaraderie allows everyone to work together to tackle problems, learn new skills, and collaborate effectively.