The current wisdom on having team meetings (staff meetings) is generally dependent on the timeframe of current. Thoughts in 2012 different than in the 1990s than in the 1950s. Does it matter whether you have regular meetings of your direct reports, or should you just “hire the best and turn them loose”?
I have been in a number of different staffing situations during my various careers. I was on a team of package delivery personnel, was the single paid staff member at a small church, served on the pastoral leadership team at a mega-church, was a part-time pastor at a mission church, led a team of pastors and support staff at a medium sized church and currently work as a member of a small team in a much larger company.
Having done some things right and some things wrong over the years, here are six reasons why I think it important to have regular team meetings.
Because communication is crucial. Teams without meetings default to an information vacuum, and vacuums are almost always filled with negative information. The leader almost always has access to information beyond the reach of team members. This information should be shared so team members will be able to make the best decisions affecting their areas of influence and responsibility.
Because drift is deadly. Without regular reinforcement of the team’s goals, mission drift will happen. And it is an absolute killer. It is up to the team leader to keep the mission at the forefront, and without regular meetings that presents a difficult challenge.
Because leadership means leading. If you are the leader, then lead. Even if you hire the best and let them go they need to know where they are going. All the oxen in the world cannot plow a field without direction.
Because openness orients. Just the regularity of being with each other orients team members to the needs, concerns, struggles and wins of the other members. Without openness, insensitivity and siloing can result, both of which are detrimental. You need not sing Kum Ba Yah with lighted candles, but neither do you need detachment.
Because cross-talk connects. Teams need cross talk. No one on your team, regardless of how smart, has cornered the world market on knowledge. He or she has not even cornered their market on knowledge. Free exchanges of ideas cross-pollinate, allowing for ideas to be applied in new ways.
Because fighting should be facilitated. Fighting on teams can be good or bad. Bad fighting happens when people do not trust each other, have too little direction or are more concerned about their own egos than the success of the team. Good fighting is encouraged and opportunities for it are facilitated by the leader. Often when team members fight fervently through tasks and processes the best idea will bubble to the top. On some teams it is the only way it will happen.
What benefits do you see to having meetings? What are some downsides to not having team/staff meetings?