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.
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
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.
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.
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 www.participative-dynamics.com.