The following article is an excerpt from a book entitled "Team Launch" by Ingrid Bens, M.Ed. The goal of this book is to prepare supervisors and managers to make the transition from managing a work group to leading a work team.

While making sure that meetings are really effective is important for any work group, for teams it's absolutely crucial. Since the dynamics of being a team can only take place when all of the members are together, your team is basically only as good as its meetings! Meetings are the only place where members can build and develop their relationship as a total group. It's safe to say that if your meetings are dysfunctional, the same will probably be true of the team as well.

There are also major differences between what work groups do at meetings as compared to what teams need to accomplish. Since people on a departmental team usually have their own separate jobs, they typically come together to get direction, share information, make decisions about those issues that affect them all and coordinated those activities that overlap roles.

Teams need to get more out of meetings. They need to get to know each other, learn to be a team, formulate a common goal, identify targets, plan work and then coordinate how they will achieve that work.

Teams are also supposed to be identifying problems and working together to find solutions and better ways of doing things. Meetings are their forum to make decisions and increasingly expand their own empowerment levels until they become self managing.

Finally, meetings are also a forum for feedback and evaluation. Team members are jointly responsible for reviewing their progress on achieving results, each other's performance and the performance of the team as a whole. All of this has to take place at the team's regular meetings if the team is going to be a real success.

How Work Groups Use Team Meetings How Teams Use Meetings
Get direction
Make decisions
Update each other
Coordinate roles


Build relationships
Learn team skills
Set goals and objectives
Plan work
Coordinate work
Discuss ways to expand empowerment
Find and solve problems to continuously improve
Work on innovations
Give each other feedback
Evaluate the team and the meetings in order to improve them
Evaluate results achieved
Table: How work groups and teams use meetings differently

The days of simply getting together to read a few memos and bounce around an idea or two are gone. Team meetings have to be carefully structured and skillfully facilitated in order to accomplish all the things an active team needs. The responsibility for making sure that meetings are well-managed is one of the most important aspects of being a team leader.

Meetings are so important to teams that it can safely be said that no team can exist without them. In fact, meetings need to be regular and members must attend them religiously. As a team leader, it's advisable to establish a regular time for meetings and hold to that schedule even if some people are occasionally absent. Whether you choose to meet for two hours every Monday or an hour every day, set that time and make sure everyone honors it in their schedules.

About Ingrid Bens
Ingrid Bens, M.Ed., has been a OD consultant and trainer for over twenty years. Her areas of specialty include leadership development, teambuilding, total quality management training and facilitation skills.

Her first book, "Facilitating With Ease!" will soon be published by Jossey-Bass. To find out more about Ingrid's other publications and up-coming facilitation skills workshops in Clearwater, Florida, check out


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