At the beginning of the pandemic, virtual staff meetings were a lifeline for leaders and employees. Since then, though, they have become the norm, and for some, things have begun to slip. The meetings that were once engaging and prioritized, are now failing to keep attendees attention or to meet their intended objectives.
If you’re wondering why this is, here are six reasons why your virtual staff meetings may be failing and what you can do about it as a people leader.
You Don’t Share the Meeting Agenda Ahead of Time or Don’t Follow It
Do you log off your virtual staff meetings having not talked about anything you intended to with your team? Is this a regular occurrence? If so, your virtual staff meetings would greatly benefit from a meeting agenda that is not only thoughtfully created, but is sent out at least 24 hours in advance and then followed through on in the meeting itself.
By doing this, you not only give attendees a chance to collect their thoughts and come prepared with relevant materials and talking points, but it gives your meeting the structure they need to have important discussions and make timely decisions.
You Dominate the Conversation
Your staff meetings are likely failing if one or two people are dominating the conversation and impeding collaboration. According to one Forbes author, when someone dominates the conversation in a staff meeting, especially when it’s virtual, “it sends the subliminal message that others simply aren’t as important, and their perspectives are less valuable.” The consequences don’t end there though. The article goes on to explain that “when one or two dominate the discussion, diversity [of thought] is severely limited and discussions, ideas, and decisions just aren’t as well informed.”
If this sounds familiar, start all future meetings by reviewing a set of ground rules that make it clear that the point of the staff meetings is to give everyone a chance to collaborate, solve problems, eliminate roadblocks, and make decisions. One ground rule, in particular, might be that everyone is expected to “share the stage” and be mindful of how much they are speaking.
You Aren’t Mindful of Time
Did you know that late start times are cited as the top reason meetings are perceived to not have value? The study which found this calculated that late start times cost individuals nearly 3 hours a week in lost time and productivity.
To fix this common staff meetings issue, you as the leader of the meeting need to be mindful and respectful of the time you have with your invitees. Always start your meetings on time and begin wrapping up the conversation at least a few minutes before the designated end time. Also, if you achieve the meeting objectives ahead of schedule, don’t drag out the meeting. Instead give everyone a few minutes back in their day to catch up on emails, chat one-on-one with another invitee, or even just grab a coffee. These simple things can make a big difference in how your invitees feel and about and approach your meetings.
You Don’t Stop Tangents
Nothing sends a virtual staff meeting off course like an unrelated tangent. If left unchecked, tangents can quickly cause emotions to rise and individuals to mentally check out or deviate their attention to other things like emails or texts.
Granted, tangents are not inherently bad. You may find the tangent raises a good point and requires additional time, energy, and thought then can be given to it within the context of your staff meeting. In which case, try using the parking lot technique, which Project Management Institute defines as “a temporary storage place for ideas, concepts, desires, and thoughts that are tangential to the objectives of the meeting.” When this happens, write down the topic and make note of it in your post-meeting follow-up email, so that everyone feels heard and you can get back to the topic at hand.
You Don’t Assign Accountabilities and Deadlines
If you are not assigning accountabilities and deadlines when decisions are made in a staff meeting, you’re leaving the likelihood they’re fulfilled up to chance. To avoid this, you want to say things like, “[Name], I’d like you to look into this and to our next meeting with a recommended solution,” so that attendees know exactly what to do when they leave the meeting so that progress can be made.
You Don’t Follow Up and Ensure People Follow Through On Their Accountabilities
After any virtual staff meeting, you should be sending out a follow-up email to your attendees which outlines the decisions made, the action items that were assigned to individuals, and any conversations that were parked and need to be resumed on a later date. Once that’s done, it’s up to you as their leader to hold everyone accountable for what they agreed to in the meeting. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that the progress you expect to see will not match the progress that is actually made by attendees.
Want to find out for certain if you are making any of the mistakes listed when it comes to hosting virtual staff meetings? If so, we recommend using this meeting survey template. Once edited and sent out to participants, you will have access to constructive feedback and actionable ideas that you can then use to begin turning your meetings around.