Little piece of advice for those who manage people

2019, back in the day when face-to-face meetings were the norm.

My tip is: have constant meetings with the team. Pick a day and a time and host it. It can be a meeting to work together, to give feedback on projects, to exchange opinions and ideas or to just talk about how people feel towards the project they are working on.

Keep the discussion focused on work and transmit the idea that in this meetings problems are solved and that progress can continue. It’s not a meeting to discuss personal issues unrelated to work, you can do that after work. In order to be effective, it should be work related.

I know you may have heard that people spend too much time in meetings and that meetings are a waste of time. I have been in many meetings myself when I thought I am wasting my time. So I get why at times this be the case.

However, feeling that one wastes time is not because of the meeting itself, but of how it is organised and managed. Maybe it needs to be shorter, maybe it needs to be more focused, maybe it needs to be organised in consultation with those who participate. Regardless, constant check-ins are very important for doing quality work.

People need to talk to colleagues and mention their work. People need to connect. People may need to give an update, ask a question or be motivated to continue doing the best they can. Some can handle it all by themselves, some can’t.

Having regular standing appointments to check-in with people one works with has multiple advantages. Not only people feel heard, have a safe space to ask questions and consult with colleagues or the manager, but they also feel like they matter.

Yes, it may feel like losing time when people gather and there are tons of things to do, but on the long run, if these meetings are done well, people tend to be more motivated.

And if this doesn’t convince you, than maybe this will: these meetings save your time. Instead of having people in and out of your office with questions concerning small things, instead of needing to take calls whenever an issue appears, instead of spending time with answering never ending chains of e-mails, these all can be done during regular meetings. Just tell people this is how it will work.

Surely, phone calls, e-mails and extraordinary meetings can still happen, especially when something needs to be dealt with urgently or a problem appeared. People need to know you are available for important questions or situations, while also knowing they are trusted to do their work and that they need to try to find a solution before coming to you with it. Because this is what these meetings are all about: prevent problems from happening and ensure actual progress takes place.

I’ve tested it this year with the students whose bachelor thesis I coordinated and it went great. We had bi-monthly or weekly meetings in which I provided feedback, answered questions, trained on Excel, gave recommendations and hopefully motivated the students to push a little bit more and do a little bit better.

Most e-mails I received were the updated versions of the thesis and clarification questions. I could really plan my time and avoid interruptions. Which is crucial for me in order to be able to get done the things I need to get done.

Dealing with people one to one whenever there is an issue and always answering e-mails is a reactive manner to deal with work. It makes one feel busy and overwhelmed and creates the impression that there is a lot of work to do and that it never ends.

Which is, in fact, true as there is always something to do. But that doesn’t mean one can’t manage it better in order to ensure time to sleep, eat and relax. So, if you want to have a happy team and be a leader, just try this: create regular meetings with the team after consulting them on how recurrent they need to be and host them regardless there is an emergency or not. Keep at it for a while and watch the results…Isn’t it better?

What do you think about having regular meetings?

Think about it and make today count!

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