As a team manager, why would you hold a meeting?
Except if you are one of very few words, you’d probably have so much to say, trying to piece the different reasons you hold different meetings into one answer.
While you’d expect a logical and straightforward answer to this question, you’d be surprised at the route we had to travel to arrive at an answer.
Simon Jenkins, in his article: Crushing moral, killing productivity - why do offices put up with meetings?
There’s no proof that organizations benefit from the endless cycle of these charades, but they can’t stop it. We’re addicted.
- Simon Jenkins for the Guardian September 2017
No proof? Tell that to sales teams; they don’t need those client meetings to complete a deal. Or those one-on-one employee meetings, employers should just go on about their business expecting their employees to know exactly what to do.
It’s fair to say that Mr. Jenkins writes from a general perspective, a bit too general if you ask me. You need to be specific about what kind of meeting you’re holding for you to know why you’re holding them.
Generally, meetings are held to solve a particular problem; whether there’s a change in your operation method or a new project to discuss, the meetings you’d hold will depend on the problem you’re looking to solve.
This raises the question, what kinds of meetings are there? In this article, we will discuss the different types of meetings and why they’re important.
Team meetings are important for different reasons;
- To ensure everyone works towards the same goal.
- To build relationships and facilitate team bonding.
However, many organizations engage in unnecessary meetings, which leads to losses. According to a study by Peter economy, pointless meetings cost U.S. companies a whopping $399 billion in 2019.
To ensure productivity from your meetings, you need to ask yourself the following questions before sending out a meeting invite;
- What problem am I looking to address?
- Is this the right kind of meeting for this problem?
The answer to the first question depends on you, but the second question requires that you know what types of meetings there are?
Different Types of Meetings You Should Know About
There’s a bit of a debate about what types of meetings are important in an organization. However, after in-depth research and analysis, we’ve compiled 15 types of business meetings, spread across three groups. These meetings are distinct in their end goal.
Businesses are run by setting objectives and laying down an approach that team members would follow to achieve such objectives. While every organization would like to have a steady plan to see out the working year, things may change as time passes and day one approach may not be yielding the right results, or there is a need for improvement.
All the meetings in this group are basically between established team members, with most occurring intermittently, forming a framework or an operational cadence of the organization. These meetings have the same pattern; the next meeting is much like the last one. They often require less pre-planning because the participants are known and are aware of the meetings’ format.
This group contains the following meeting types.
1. Team Cadence Meetings
Team cadence meetings follow a predefined pattern and, in most cases, use the same agenda. While these meetings serve as an avenue to review and renew plans with new information, no major changes are expected in these meetings. A major change would mean derailing from the meeting’s purpose, resulting in meeting failure.
These meetings are important for ensuring group cohesion, drive execution and continuity. Usually, the team manager leads the meeting; however, any team member can lead effectively. A team cadence meeting where everyone engages collaboratively yields the best results. (Check out this article on how to run collaborative meetings).
Examples of this type of meeting are; a regular committee meeting and the shift change meeting.
2. Progress Check Meetings
Similar to team cadence meetings, progress checks follow a regular pattern. And major surprises are also not welcomed to avoid derailing from the meetings’ purpose. Organizations hold these meetings to maintain project momentum and ensure mutual accountability.
In other words, to ensure that everyone is effectively carrying out their roles and, if not, discuss issues and sort out what’s necessary to ensure everyone performs their job.
Generally, a progress check meeting is led by project managers and account managers with a structure for others to contribute. For remote teams, everyone might take turns giving a report, or the meeting leader calls on responsible team members to do so. Project status meetings and client check-in are examples of progress checks.
One-on-ones, as the name implies, are meetings between two people. The relationship between the two matters and is a major factor in the success of these meetings.
Depending on your team, one-on-ones could follow an agenda; however, they’re like normal conversations in most cases. The only difference is that this is scheduled for a specific purpose.
Examples of one-on-ones are; Manager-Employee One-on-One and a Mentorship Meeting.
4. Action Reviews
Similar to team cadence meetings, action reviews are ritualistic. They serve to continuously educate the team, changing how the meeting is run, depending on what they’ve learned subsequently. Unlike team cadence meetings, surprises are welcome here, and while surprises come with major changes, action reviews are about taking surprises as lessons.
These meetings are important for organizations to learn, gain insight, develop confidence, and generate recommendations for change.
Examples include; Pre-Surgery Meetings (Healthcare) or Win/Loss Review (Sales).
5. Governance Cadence meetings
These meetings are highly structured and professional; every participant is known beforehand, but not necessarily in the same organization. An official company representative heads these meetings, no surprises allowed; in fact, participants are briefed privately before the meeting.
These meetings follow an agenda that participants receive in advance, minutes are recorded, and everything is organized. Check out our Meeting Minutes Tips. Governance cadence meetings are important for strategic definition and oversight, regulatory compliance and monitoring, and relationship maintenance. Board meetings are an obvious example.
These meetings come up as the need arises, with team managers, including people who he/she feels will help achieve meeting goals. Because they come up as needed, participants and patterns are customized to fit these meetings’ requirements.
These meetings follow a thoughtful process, either with an established team and/or external personnel.
Types of meetings in this group include:
6. Idea Generation Meetings
Idea generation is as the name implies; a facilitator drops a premise, and other participants contribute with different ideas. Participants can use any idea generation technique to respond to the central premise of the meeting.
For the best results in this type of meeting, relationships are kept at the door, and team managers would go for participants with innovative ability to generate useful ideas.
Organizations run these meetings to develop ideas that would either solve a problem or improve a section. So, generating ideas is the crux here, not necessarily refining the ideas.
A good example is an ad Campaign Brainstorming Session.
7. Planning Meetings
Planning meetings differ in format, depending on the plan you’re looking to discuss in the meeting. Generally, it begins by laying down the plan, with an analysis of the current situation and its improvement.
The project owner leads these meetings, and participants are expected to contribute to the plan. Relationships are not a factor in these meetings as they’re strictly professional. Planning meetings end with the acceptance or rejection of the plan.
These meetings are essential in creating plans and securing the commitment to implement said plans.
An excellent example of this type of meeting is; campaign planning meetings
Workshops are set up as the base for future work; therefore, it may involve two parts; team formation and creating a shared work product. Usually, workshops involve incorporating the elements of other meeting types like; idea generation and planning meetings.
These meetings kick off with an introduction, an assessment of overall goals, and exercises in which every participant engages in a structured manner. Workshops are usually long; therefore, they require that you plan and structure every activity to flow seamlessly. To conclude a workshop, the meeting leader would review the work product and end it with a review exercise.
That said, workshops are set up as needed as they don’t often follow a pattern. The people in charge create the structure for the workshop.
A few examples of workshops are; Team Chartering, Design Workshops, and Value Stream Mapping.
9. Problem Solving Meetings
These meetings involve team members who can proffer solutions and those who would implement the solution. Depending on the nature of the problem, these meetings are led by the person in charge.
However, the participants are expected to contribute to arriving at the goal of the meeting actively. Problem-solving requires participants of great expertise. These people may or may not know each other. Hence, while relationships might add to the meeting’s success, it is not a factor in this case.
These meetings begin with a review of the situation (what led to the problem, what resources we have to solve it, etc.) then an analysis of the available options to arrive at the end goal.
The team then agrees on an option and sets up an action plan. Problem-solving meetings help companies find a solution to a problem and secure a commitment to enact the solution.
Examples are; incident response and strategic issue resolution
10. Decision-Making Meetings
Decision-making meetings often involve a predefined team, but like problem-solving, some decisions may require expertise. Therefore, others may be involved, even if they’re not directly part of the decision-makers.
These meetings are often led by the team leader; if the decision to be discussed is straightforward, the meeting may be structured. But if it’s about weighing up different options, it would be collaborative.
If a problem-solving meeting is held beforehand, the options discussed then would be considered and a final option selected in this meeting. Companies use these meetings to make a documented decision and establish a commitment to act on that decision—for example, the decision to hire or logo selection.
Meetings under this group are designed for a person or group of people to share information with another group, to influence their decisions. These meetings are all about sharing information for mutual benefits.
These meetings involve some form of social and psychological connections; therefore, more emphasis is on etiquette rather than work product and structure. Although, that isn’t always the case. These Online Meeting Etiquettes will help you run your meetings effectively.
Meetings in this group include:
11. Sense-making Meetings
An interviewer leads these meetings, and the participants are the interviewee and/or a few observers. Participants are expected to engage in a sense-making meeting by responding to questions.
In other words, the structure of these meetings is a question-responder one. Some interviewers prefer to build a rapport, making the meeting seem conversational.
Most sense-making meetings are governed by privacy or non-disclosure agreements, which would be stated beforehand. Other than that, there is no regular pattern associated with these meetings.
These meetings are important for gaining an understanding of the current state of a project or system.
Examples include; job interviews, project discovery meetings, incident investigations, etc
The persons responsible for the meetings are also responsible for leading the meeting. The participants are either invited or requested to be present. Engagements are almost one-sided, as in a presentation. The participants may or may not contribute; it solely depends on them.
There are no special formats for these types of meetings; it is up to the person who asked for the meeting. These meetings are important for both parties to learn about each other and decide if they want to take the relationship further.
Examples include; First meeting between professionals, a sales pitch, etc.
13. Issue Resolution Meetings
Issue resolution meetings, as the name implies, are held to resolve issues between two parties. It usually involves two parties and a third party (negotiator). Any party can lead these meetings in the absence of a third party.
Both parties are expected to engage in these meetings; however, the mode of engagement is dependent on the situation.
For example, a heated situation will require a structured method of engagement to ensure order throughout the meeting. Examples of this type of meeting include; support team escalation, contract negotiations, renewals, etc.
14. A Community of Practice Gatherings
These types of meetings are more social than formal. Participants are there voluntarily because they’re interested in the meeting’s topic. An organizer opens the meeting and introduces a presenter if any. Participants are expected to engage at their convenience by asking questions and giving answers where necessary.
These meetings are important for the topic-focused exchange of ideas, relationship development, etc.
Examples include; monthly safety committee meetings and project manager’s meetup
15. Training sessions
Training sessions are common in remote work settings, where a trainer leads the meeting, and the participants may be required to be there or volunteer to be present.
There is no predefined structure for this meeting type; the trainer decides the structure while participants can contribute with questions or answers. These meetings are essential to transfer knowledge and skills.
Examples include; client training on a new product, new employee on-boarding—safety training, seminars, etc.
Which Type Of Meeting Is Best For You?
Now that you know the types of meetings, a new question arises; how do you determine which type of meeting works best for your situation?
Firstly, assess the problem you’re looking to solve and what your ideal solution would look like, and how you intend to get the solution. For example, if you’re looking to hire a new candidate and get your solution by assessing renowned team members or stakeholders’ opinions, a decision-making meeting would suit this situation.
Choosing the right meeting type is one thing, and putting it to work is another. You need to put it to use to ensure meeting productivity.
Written by Derek Johnson