CONNECT MORE, MEET LESS

darren-nolander-meetingOffices may be opening back up, but there’s no denying remote work will play a large role in business going forward. Whether we’re in the office or at home, robust companies like APM will continue to add new employees to its workforce.

People may be a welcome addition to a team, but there’s a good chance meetings are not. So do you and your staff a favor, and keep the meetings to a minimum, even if you have new team members to integrate.

You can do this by:

Making the meetings you do have meaningfulyou can keep team members in the loop by sending out welcome emails or videos when you have a new team member. If they’re comfortable, they can even share a little bit about themselves that gets disseminated with the team.

When it comes to meeting time, however, make sure there’s a solid reason for gathering everyone. After all, you’re asking your team members to put aside all their other priorities to sit in with you. Create an agenda, set goals, anticipate questions (or come up with questions to pose to your team) and make sure everyone leaves with an understanding of the actionable items they’ll be responsible for.

With all these precise factors at play, it’s easy to see the value of meetings. Plus, you’ll avoid the whole “this could have been an email” indignation. Naturally, you can also introduce any new team members or mention other housekeeping items during a meeting. Just remember to keep it short. If you’ve created a meaningful agenda, you want to make sure everyone stays fresh for the whole meeting.

Linking the medium to the message – meetings can be held in many different platforms nowadays. There’s in person, video, phone, and even group emails, texts and instant messenger tools. Not every message is right for every medium. Have a serious problem you need to address with your team? In person may be best. Want a quick opinion on a low-value topic, such as the exact shade of blue you want to incorporate on your new digital banner? Text and email can be just as effective.

Projects that involve collaboration, team work and brainstorming are often best achieved in person or via video chat. Use these tools wisely, though. They still require time, energy and preparation from all participants, so be sure that meeting has meaning before sending an invite.

Connecting team-building strategies to the organization’s goalsnot every task needs to involve a large group meeting. Sometimes it’s best to let team members share their work, communicate one on one or provide feedback without a back-and-forth setting.

For example, digital whiteboards can facilitate feedback without the need for another meeting. Employees can also pair off if they’re working on a project together, or if they’re engaged in a mentor-mentee relationship. In these instances, it’s best to leave these communications private. Team members can choose to create their own “rooms” on platforms like Microsoft Teams, or they can utilize video chats, email or messenger apps whenever appropriate.

Conversation can also be spurred on group platforms by posing a question or two a week. These can range from professional queries, such as “what is your top goal for the month?” or “what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far from working in the mortgage industry?” to icebreakers like “what’s in your Netflix queue right now?” or “tell us about your biggest online shopping fail.”

There is clearly some benefit in having face-to-face interactions and video chats. However, everyone’s time is precious. Wait to set up a meeting until you know exactly what you need to cover, pick the best platform for your goal and make sure team members have a few choices when it comes to the various ways they can communicate with teammates.

With these three items set, new employees will feel welcomed, up to speed in no time, and understand the culture of your organization.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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