This week Education Director at Farran Street Education, Adrian Pattra, offers his top ten tips for running meetings to motivate and inspire your team in 2021.
Meetings tend to be the bugbear of both staff and managers alike. However, COVID-19 and the disruptions of the past year have made many of us re-evaluate how we spend our precious little face-to-face time together in meetings.
Technologies like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger allow us to communicate transactional information in efficient and effective methods. This means we can now use our meetings to help our teams feel inspired, connected and develop strong sense of purpose.
We have come up with our top 10 ways to run inspiring meetings.
1. Celebrate Achievements
Whole team meetings are a great opportunity to celebrate achievements from educators. Staff meetings should be an opportunity to present best practice from around the service and highlight great work.
Remember, what you celebrate in meetings is what you get more of! Your service culture is created not by what you say, but by what you celebrate. Achievements are more than just completing a qualification or receiving a promotion. Achievements can be completing a short-term goal, solving a difficult issue or making progress on the QIP.
2. Generate Discussion
Team meetings are a great opportunity to generate discussion and capture ideas from the team. Use a three-step brainstorming process to make sure everyone feels included:
- Brainwriting - this is a method for quickly generating ideas by asking participants to write their ideas on paper. Brainwriting has the advantage of parallel idea generation.
- Small group discussion - this allows participants to bounce their ideas off each other and supports their participation in the larger group.
- Large group discussion - this is where people are asked to identify their ideas in a large group. You might like to use a prop or questions to spark discussion. Using this three-step process will ensure everyone has a chance to thrive.
3. Learning and Development
Team meetings are a great opportunity for learning and development. Allow educators to specialise in an area of interest and use team meetings as an opportunity for them to share their knowledge with the broader team. Team meetings are also a great opportunity to have a guest speaker or run a training session.
4. Use meetings to Promote Wellbeing
Wellbeing increases your health and happiness. It allows you to be calm, present in the moment and resilient. A strong sense of wellbeing contributes to good mental health. Consider adding a Mindful Tools item on your agenda. You can also use this time to talk about strategies to promote positive mental health at work.
5. Share Wins
Sharing the wins is a great way to promote best practice in the service. Melanie Corke from Catholic Early Learning and Care Services starts each meeting by asking each team to share something that’s worked spectacularly well over the past few weeks. Other meetings participants are then encouraged to ask questions to find out more. This simple but effective practice puts the spotlight on outstanding performance.
6. Model Appreciative Feedback
Appreciative feedback is fundamentally about relationships, connections and character strengths. Appreciation motivates and inspires us, giving us a bounce in our step. Some leaders get caught in the trap of thinking they need to provide appreciative feedback to educators. While this is partly true, the real role a leader has is to create a service culture in which appreciative feedback flourishes.
7. Avoid General Reminders
Team meetings are not for general reminders. Large group general reminders such as “I’d like to remind everyone to supervise correctly” or “Don’t forget to wear your hat,” do nothing but decrease morale and promote an autocratic environment. Teams need to be inspired to meet and exceed expectations.
8. Don’t Tell off the Entire Team
Team meetings are not an opportunity to tell off the entire team for what one or two people may have been doing wrong. “A few people have been coming in late…can everyone please remember to come in on time.” Telling off the entire team creates a culture of blame and intimidation. As a leader, we need to hold ourselves accountable for making sure constructive feedback is given 1:1 and in a timely manner.
9. Build Trust by Being Inclusive
Trust is an essential ingredient in building a mentally healthy and effective team. Inclusion is one of the key principles, which builds trust. This is trust arising from the observation that team members actively include each other in team discussions and work activities, listen and positively respond to ideas and opinions in meetings and make decisions in a participative and democratic way.
10. Perform Rituals
Shared rituals are a great way to create a sense of belonging and generate engagement. Rituals foster a group’s culture and identity. They create an atmosphere of trust and build bonds between team members. Many teams already have birthday rituals which are deeply rooted in culture norms. High performing teams have rituals which are linked to organisational values such as gratitude, acceptance, growth and love.
Using these 10 ten tips, you can maximise your time together with your team. You can turn your meetings from a transactional task into an opportunity to grow, connect and inspire. COVID-19 has taught us that our face-to-face meetings are too valuable to be wasted with the transmitting of facts and details. They are much more useful as a sacred occasion to celebrate and transform the culture of the service.