Make the most of Monday morning meetings (or don’t have them)
Ah Mondays. The first day back after a nice weekend. You pour yourself some coffee and say a few good mornings around the office before getting settled in at your desk to check emails and look over the work you have for the day.
For most offices, right about now is when a Slack message pops up inviting everyone to gather for a Monday standup. The team sits in a circle to go over work to be done, things to focus on, and maybe chat about what everyone did last weekend.
Sometimes, these meetings are valuable and productive. Most of the time, though, they only serve the purpose of bringing the team together to talk. Is it important to hold Monday meetings? Do they help teams perform any better? Does anyone really like them?
In this blog, we’re talking about what good Monday meetings look like and how to make the most of your employees’ time.
Does this meeting need to happen?
About half of all meetings are a waste of time, usually because there’s no clear goal. If your only reason for interrupting someone’s flow state is to plop them in a conference room, don’t do it. There are, however, valid reasons to casually meet together.
Start by writing an agenda of the meeting’s purpose. If it ends up being mostly unimportant reminders or policy warnings, send an email. This isn’t information employees need to be present for, and a hard copy is easier to keep track of anyway.
Your Monday morning meeting agenda could include items like:
Metrics and performance review. Share relevant KPIs and discuss how the team is tracking towards its goals.
Upcoming deadlines and priorities. For teams working on a deadline, now is the time to confirm dates and come together on tasks that need special attention. Also, talk about the status of ongoing projects so everyone knows about any changes that have occurred.
Goals and objectives. Let each employee confirm their plans of what they’ll work on throughout the upcoming week. If it’s a group project, everyone should understand their individual and team responsibilities.
Training and development. Some managers use Monday mornings for insights about working more effectively and building a career. Questions that arise during the meeting can be a good base for sharing knowledge and building skill capacity.
Questions and feedback. Teams should feel comfortable asking questions and sharing concerns. There should also be an opportunity to provide feedback, maybe on past projects or on how current projects are being handled. All of this helps foster a culture of communication, which is probably the biggest benefit of these meetings.
Sticking to an agenda stops your weekly team meeting from straying too far into the weeds.
If it’s important, tell them
The weekly huddle is a staple of modern businesses. Many business owners set aside a day of the week for meetings out of habit, which is fine, but they sometimes leave vital information to be communicated through tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
This is wrong. If there’s something your team needs to know—something that is vital to their job function or a current project—informing them via email or chat is a bad idea.
“Per my last email” is a proverb at this point because most people receive far too many pointless emails to discern between what’s important and what’s one more thank you in a Reply All chain.
If there’s something your team must know, don’t leave it to email/chat alone. Tell them in person. If it coincides with your Monday morning meeting—great—but if not, schedule another meeting or just make the rounds as needed. Employees need multiple opportunities to hear important information.
Remote vs. in-person
Monday mornings differ depending on your company’s work arrangement. It’s a lot harder to justify mandatory huddles for remote teams who work alone than for in-person teams to kick off the week with friendly banter.
Let’s start with in-person teams: For a simple catch-up, Monday mornings are one of the best days to get everyone together and casually discuss work. It’s not an inconvenience because people are just getting started and probably haven’t dug too far into a project.
Remote teams are different. Unless there’s a meeting on their calendar, they’re probably not prepared for it or planning to use their time that way. Regularly scheduled meetings may work one Monday but not the following week.
Managers of remote teams should ask when their employees have time and schedule accordingly. You could even send meeting invites through a scheduling tool like Youcanbookme so everyone is on the same page. Slack and Teams also offer APIs for calendar tools if that’s more convenient.
Meetings for ongoing projects
Companies that provide services over an extended period (such as an agency or software development firm) may need to meet sporadically during the project. For these meetings, Monday mornings may be the worst time.
What will people talk about? All the issues and concerns they had throughout the week are forgotten by Monday morning (unless they keep a running list). Rather than meeting at the start of the week, consider moving to Wednesday or Thursday, after your team has a chance to gain momentum and dig deeper into what they need help with.
Using meetings to fix things
There are philosophies about how to use meetings to improve team cooperation and performance. One voice in this space is Lynn Taylor, whose book How to Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant provides insights about making meetings safe and productive for everyone.
Not all teams get along. If this is the case at your company, Monday meetings can serve the purpose of inviting input and collaboration so that troubled teams get practice working together.
Bad attitudes can be addressed in team settings (if meeting privately doesn’t work first). If someone shares an unsavory opinion or is just being rude, a little silence and calm can keep fires to a minimum while offering ways to improve.
“Does everyone else agree with that?” is a great question to kick off discussions about inflammatory attitudes. Taylor writes, “It’s incumbent upon employees to set limits to bad behavior and reinforce the good.” Meetings are a great place to enforce these limits.
Can it get awkward? Yes, but the good news is that challenging team members—what Taylor calls terrible office tyrants, or “TOTs”—already make things awkward. The only thing better than avoiding conflict is taking steps right then and there to prevent it from continuing.
Basically, meetings can be great for getting together and reinforcing good behavior.
Keeping the floor open
It’s normal for awkward silences to happen during meetings, but good leaders know not to interrupt. Somebody almost always has something to share, and they’re less likely to speak if doing so interrupts someone else.
Not all questions are easy to answer. Some of them take time to mull over, which means the awkward silence may just be a moment of thought. This is good and shouldn’t be interrupted, even if it’ll help people breathe easier.
Ask for opinions and be willing to let silence happen as brains tick.
Wrapping up when the time comes
Meetings aren’t exactly fun. They take time out of the workday, require participation, and tend to lack structure. This is okay as long as the meetings serve a purpose, but if that runs out, it’s time to break and get everyone back to their desks.
Earlier I mentioned allowing for awkward silences, however, there comes a time when too many indicate that time is better spent elsewhere. The reason people aren’t talking is because they’ve mentally checked out.
Virtually no one minds when meetings end early. You’re not doing employees a disservice by giving them back their time and letting them resume whatever they were working on before.
If it helps, have an exit line. An old boss of mine would always say he was cooking spinach and could smell it burning (it was a remote job). While it was ridiculous and obviously not true, he used it consistently and made it easy to recognize.
Don’t continue meetings just because they haven’t reached their scheduled end time. It’s unnecessary and a little bit annoying.
Meetings should be important
Honor your employees’ time. Hold meetings when you have something important to share or need people to check in. Create space for dialogue as needed. Invite people to share their thoughts and personality.
You may find that your younger employees see meetings differently, and I think that’s a good thing. The possibility that a job today could be gone tomorrow contributes to a culture where people value workplace relationships more than maintaining optics for managers. Yes, work is still the top priority, but socializing happens outside meetings more often.
Monday morning meetings can adapt to these trends by sticking to an agenda and letting casual conversations happen on their own. Keep meetings for the important stuff and you’ll have happier teams.