Two critical roles can be shared between two managers or performed by one individual: meeting organizer and meeting moderator.
Meeting Organizer for Remote & Hybrid Teams
For a productive meeting in a remote setting, the organizer should take the following steps.
1. Who should be present at the meeting?
Don't bring someone in just because they might be interested in the topic, or simply because they are “supposed to be there.” Bring only people who, once the meeting is over, will have specific action items to complete. If someone walks out of the meeting without an actionable step, they should not have been in the meeting.
2. Consider parents and employees who are caring for a dependent.
Stress levels were significantly higher for some employees during the pandemic, especially for those taking care of a sick/disabled relative or parents who had to work from home with the kids running around. We've seen many funny videos, but the reality was horrific, with parents crying in their bathrooms and calling loved ones and friends to say that they can't do this anymore. I know because I was one of the friends people called.
During the first wave of the pandemic, many parents had their kids home. Scheduling a call at 8/9/10 a.m. is going to be overwhelming for these parents and unproductive for the organization. These are high traffic toddler hours. Advise your team to proactively reach out to the meeting organizer to suggest optimal meeting hours, or to advise in case of emergency.
When the circumstances require, use a tool to determine your team's best time to meet. You can use Doodle* to find a good time for everyone to meet in under a minute.
All meeting attendees should be able to share their best time to schedule a meeting, depending on their personal circumstances. Your goal should be to have a productive and focused experience for all participants.
3. What do the participants want to achieve in this meeting? Do they have any questions?
The meeting organizer should create a dedicated meeting area where each participant shares their individual goal: why they're there and what their primary objective is during the upcoming meeting.
Additionally, the participants should post any questions they want to ask during the meeting 2-3 days in advance, allowing the management team and stakeholders to do their homework and come prepared with supporting data, research, and feedback.
With today's digital tools, this process will make your organization's face-to-face video meetings efficient while allowing your employees across teams to be strategic rather than reactive. The extra time saved could be used for team building and collaboration events, critical for your remote work culture.
4. Meeting agenda process.
What topics should be covered in this meeting? The organizer needs to list each topic and assign it to a participant. The person who has ownership of the given topic should prepare it in advance. Each topic discussed should be listed as a task and linked to a project management environment. Yes, you want your team to be fully prepared for the meeting. You want to avoid turning it into a brainstorming session. There are better ways to get people to be creative and produce useful ideas. Use the meeting as an opportunity to clarify any details or grant permissions and approve execution.
You want to link to projects and tasks directly in the meeting's agenda. Each topic should refer to a project or task in a project management system. That way, the team will make informed, quick decisions during the meeting itself while remaining action-focused and documenting all decisions.
The organizer should prepare the meeting agenda 2 days before the meeting date. Anyone from the team can add a last-minute discussion topic, but the team's goal should always be to be prepared in advance.
The moderator's role is to ensure that the agenda is being followed and no employee or manager, including C-level members, is hijacking the meeting. The moderator should treat all attendees equally regardless of their status in the organization. Their purpose is to host a result-oriented meeting where each participant contributes constructively and productively.
The moderator's role is to:
1. Identify topics that need to be clarified outside this meeting and quickly move their discussion toward the agenda items.
If a topic needs to be thoroughly discussed and could result in overtaking this meeting, the moderator will create a task in a project management environment. In the task, all stakeholders will be assigned a role. That way, the moderator will ensure that the meeting progresses efficiently while everyone's voice is heard.
2. The participants must state what their objectives are before the meeting.
3. The moderator will interrupt anyone that risks turning the meeting into a lengthy discussion, dispute, or brainstorming session.
The above includes C-level executives and managers. The moderator's role entitles them to identify possible topics that need to be taken into a project management environment or breakout session rather than involving the whole team.
By following this process, you'll have hyper-productive team meetings that last only 35 minutes or less, a significant improvement from the 60 to 90 minutes most teams schedule. The team agendas will be action-driven and promote “do-er” behavior among the employees on an organizational level while clearly documenting all decisions and next steps.
If you want to learn more, drop me a message and I'll send you the complete handbook: Remote Teams Driven by Results, Transparency, and Culture. Additionally, you can talk to our team and learn more about what works well for our clients by scheduling a complimentary strategy call here.
I look forward to connecting and networking with people who are passionate about remote and hybrid work. ~ Dessi