Meetings are a necessary part of company management but have a bad reputation for often being ineffective and time-consuming. Employees and management alike are all too aware of those meetings that run far too long and don’t accomplish their goals. Even with an agenda, group meetings can easily be thrown off track and one on ones can become one-sided lectures. As attention spans dwindle, employees disengage, and the clock ticks away valuable company time, you may think to yourself, there has got to be a better way!
Well, there is!
Group meetings and one on one sessions can be utilized strategically to achieve different results. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the two models will save your company time without sacrificing any of the benefits.
The Group Gathering
There will never be enough time in the day for everything on your team’s to-do list, so setting aside time specifically for a meeting guarantees you a chance to address the entire office. Now that you have this distraction-free period, how should it be used?
A group meeting can benefit your organization in several ways a one-on-one cannot. This is a chance to get everyone on the same page and foster communication, collaboration, and workplace culture.
Departments that wouldn’t regularly interact with one another and employees who work remotely and rarely make it into the office can all be called into the same room. With a group meeting, you have the ability to create an interactive environment where new perspectives, ideas, and knowledge can be shared. Something someone says or proposes may inspire a new collaboration or project, fostering an ongoing relationship beyond the boardroom.
With group meetings, watch out for the age-old problem of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” When there are multiple voices vying to share thoughts and comments, the meeting’s schedule can fall off track and that allotted thirty minutes may turn into an hour. Make sure there is a clear leader in the conversation to ensure you stay on track and cover everything on the agenda for the day. Don’t be afraid to cut a conversation short - make a note to schedule a follow-up time for those involved and move onto your next topic.
The best part of a one-on-one meeting is just that: it’s one-on-one. Making time for an employee shows you care and is the optimal time to check in with that member of your staff on how they are doing in their role, their strengths, weaknesses, and what you can do to help them succeed.
This is your chance to have a personal, honest conversation. Whether it be with a new employee or someone who has been with the company for years, an individual meeting gives you both an opportunity to build a stronger relationship and trust. You can use this time to ask about anything! You may want to know about your employee’s experience with new policies the company implemented, their overall job satisfaction, or even provide feedback yourself on their job performance.
The key here is to be careful that you don’t monopolize the conversation, or you will miss out on learning more about the person in front of you.
Understanding the members of your team on a personal and professional level will help you utilize their personality and skills to their maximum potential. You are effectively assessing the parts of the whole; knowing the members of the team will give you invaluable insights on how to help the group function as a whole.
One-on-one meetings are extremely useful when time is tight. If hitting all your pertinent topics is crucial, a personal meeting will be the better option since you can manage the conversation and won’t have other voices to contend with. Also, shy employees who wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable speaking up in front of the office will be more engaged and involved in a one-on-one.
If meetings are something you are just beginning to implement, it is important to let staff know that this is a new company-wide practice. Be clear that the intention is to help management connect the team and establish a new workplace culture; employees may feel singled out or concerned that meetings are a punishment if they are not aware of the actual reason.
Whatever meeting model you choose to use, always have clear objectives and an organized timeline going into it. There is nothing more frustrating than setting aside that invaluable time, and at the end of it realizing you haven’t accomplished what you needed to.