Meetings are crucial for team performance. After all, when done well, they can improve both productivity and engagement, while enabling alignment, collaboration, communication and innovation.
They provide the perfect ground to exchange ideas, provide feedback, problem solve, and make decisions. They facilitate creative thinking, and help establish stronger working relationships. Ultimately, they are the fuel that runs your company.
But too many of them can destroy morale and stifle creativity.
Excessive meetings are a drain on resources, not to mention motivation.
Too few and work will suffer: the team falls out of alignment, information is lost, team relations weaken, and mistakes are made because of uncertainty around leadership's desired outcome.
You have to strike the right balance.
While meetings interrupt individual progress, the majority of teams work better when they have an effective meeting cadence (business speak for how often something happens).
But how do you determine the right cadence for your meetings?
We’ll explore this and more below. We’ll also discuss:
- What is a meeting cadence?
- The different types of team meeting cadences
- Types of team meetings
- Team meeting agenda examples
- Setting ground rules in team meetings
- Tips for deciding on the best meeting cadence
- How to improve your team meetings
What is a meeting cadence?
A meeting cadence refers to the frequency in which your team get together for a recurring meeting. This could be once a day, once a week, once or month, or even once a quarter.
What you ideally want to achieve with your meeting cadence is to set a pace that allows the team to pull together fast enough to win their race, but not so fast they burn out before they reach the finish line.
How often your team meets will depend on multiple factors, and spoiler alert, there isn’t just one type of meeting cadence.
Different types of team meeting cadences
- Quarterly meetings
Quarterly meetings are great to review the progress of different departments in a business review meeting, to plan ahead, or gauge the company’s cultural health, for example.
They’re the perfect cadence for sharing a high level view of what’s going on.
Quarterly business reviews give you the opportunity to reflect on the last 90 days (quarter) and review quarterly goals for the next 90 days.
- Monthly meetings
Monthly meetings are a good cadence for management-level check-ins that require participants to delve a little deeper into the subject material.
Consider a monthly recurring meeting for a departmental meeting or a project team meeting.
- Weekly meetings
Weekly meetings are high frequency and provide the perfect setting for delving into the detail of weekly progress and projections for the next week.
They can be used at every level of your organization depending on the purpose of the meeting. Weekly meetings are most commonly used for team meetings, or one to ones.
- Daily meetings
Daily recurring meetings are incredibly disruptive to deep work, yet many teams choose to have a ‘quick’ stand up meeting each day to ‘check in’.
But daily meetings should really only occur in special circumstances such as sprints, or if you’re a startup that’s scaling fast and needs daily check-ins because the landscape is changing so frequently and people need to be kept abreast of rapidly developing situations.
As with any meeting, if it serves no real purpose and is actually a waste of everyone's time, then managers should consider replacing it with other forms of asynchronous communication, such as an email or a Slack message.
Types of team meetings
There are many different types of team meetings.
Each one serves a different purpose: from checking in with the team, to making progress on different projects, to brainstorming new ideas, to making decisions.
As a general rule, you want meetings for three purposes: to share information, maintain momentum (problem solve), or to change course (make decisions).
As a rough guide, these are a few of the team meetings that we believe are crucial for teams and managers, and as such, we’ve developed meeting templates for.
Regular one-to-ones are crucial for increasing productivity. identifying issues, and strengthening manager-employee relationships.
In fact, they should ideally be used as part of an ongoing performance development discussion.
So, how often should managers be having one-to-ones with their direct reports?
While it will be down to the manager to set the right cadence, in most companies these meetings occur as a weekly check in.
Team stand up meeting
A team stand up meeting is usually short meetings (between five and 15 minutes long) where all team members provide an update about what they're working on.
We'd recommend having a simple agenda for stand up meetings to keep the conversation focused and avoid wasting time, for example asking what they've accomplished recently, what their focus is today (or this week), what obstacles do they have, if any.
While some stand ups will happen on a daily basis, others will happen weekly. Whatever meeting cadence your managers opt for, you should make sure they're not hindering productivity by having them too often.
Sprint planning meeting
Sprint planning meetings should be used by teams - or smaller project teams - to determine what needs to be done in that period.
Sprint planning meetings typically occur on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
Team review meeting
Team review meetings often cover what's been completed in a sprint.
Team retrospective meeting
Team retrospectives are often held on a monthly basis and provide an opportunity for team members to reflect on what is and isn't working. What's more, they enable teams to stay agile and iterate.
A team retrospective is the best way to promote a growth mindset in your team. By hosting a retrospective meeting at the end of a project or time-frame (i.e. the end of each month) you build trust in the team, develop psychological safety, and increase productivity.
Project kick off meeting
A project kick off meeting often takes place prior to a project being launched and is used to align the team on the mission and scope, before agreeing roles and next steps.
Unlike some other types of meetings, a project kick off meeting won't have a regular cadence, as it will be project dependent.
Project status update
Project status update meetings help to ensure that the project team is on track. Managers or project leads may decide to set up a meeting cadence for the duration of the project, for example daily, weekly or even every other day.
Project review meeting
A project review meeting will typically be held at the end of a project, to reflect on what went well and what can be improved ahead of the next project.
Goal progress review meeting
Goal progress review meetings are often led by managers to check the progress made against objectives. These meetings may tie into one-to-ones, or be held separately throughout the quarter to ensure individuals are on track to meet them.
Goal wrap up meeting
Make sure managers are closing up goal cycles with a goal wrap up meeting.
Team meeting agenda examples for different types of meetings
All meetings should ideally have an agenda, in order to keep them running efficiently and to avoid the dreaded zoom fatigue.
You don't need to reinvent the wheel every time though. You can use a rinse and repeat outline to ensure your meetings stay on track and on time.
A well designed agenda for a regular meeting is the perfect vehicle to ensure projects move fast and smooth.
Team stand up meeting agenda
Team stand ups by their very nature are designed to be short. This means that the agenda should be short and snappy, with team members taking it in turns to briefly share:
- What they've worked on yesterday/recently
- What they intend to accomplish today/this week
- Any foreseeable blockers
Team retrospective meeting agenda
The point of a retrospective is to share, to listen, to be heard and to discuss. Again, these meetings are likely to happen on either a monthly basis, or at the end of a specific project.
In a retrospective meeting agenda, you might want to encourage each team member to share:
- Key learnings
- Successes to be celebrated
- Opportunities for improvements
Setting ground rules (behavioral norms) in team meetings
For team meetings to be productive, teams need to set ground rules and establish behavioral norms to ensure all participants remain focused and the meeting runs on time and is productive.
Meeting ground rules should:
- Be clear on the type of meeting that's being run. Is it to share information, make decisions or solve a problem. Don't try and combine them.
- Have a specific agenda, a clear purpose and defined outcomes.
- Include only essential team members. The more (unnecessary) people there, the more time that's wasted.
- Have a facilitator to keep the meeting moving.
- Enforce time discipline.
- Encourage participants to speak up, which requires psychological safety.
- Design the next steps together, as a team.
- Avoid ignoring the elephant in the room.
For more information on how to optimize your team meetings, have a read of this.
Tips for deciding on the best meeting cadence
The right team meeting cadence depends on the purpose of the meeting, the team and the wider organization.
It has to meet leadership’s needs, it has to serve its team members, and it has to benefit the organization as a whole.
While there is no ‘right answer’ for finding the best team meeting cadence, we have, however, put together a best practices:
Use trial and error
Encourage managers to try different meeting cadences to determine which ones work best for the team. Revisit the cadence after a month or at the end of the quarter to see if it's still working.
Ask what's trying to be accomplished
Gauge the number of meetings by the scope of the project.
If it’s normal jogging i.e. not urgent but important, you might only need a meeting once a month.
If it's a high priority, you might need daily meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
If you’re simply looking to share non-urgent/ non-important information, send an email.
Consider the maturity of the team
The longer your team has worked together, the less frequently they’ll need to meet. But new teams, or teams with high turnover, will require more frequent meetings to build trust and develop relationships.
It's therefore important that managers are considering the composition of their teams when determining a meeting cadence that will work for everyone.
Consider how interdependent the team is
The more the team relies on each other to accomplish their goals (i.e. an agile team), the more likely it is they’ll need to meet frequently.
Mid-level managers who work largely independently, less so.
Consider the work function
Does the team work 'on the business' or 'in the business'?
Teams that work ‘in’ the business i.e. collaborate to produce a product need to meet more frequently than teams that work ‘on’ the business i.e. boards, governance, those with strategic planning responsibilities.
Of course there are those teams i.e. leadership that work in both capacities, but because both functions have their own cadence, they can each have their own meeting.
Consider the location
If your team is co-located in the same room you won't necessarily need to meet as often. If, however, you're spread to the four winds, or even operating a hybrid working model, there’s a higher chance you’ll need more regular check-ins to stay on track.
Consider the type of meeting
One to one meetings are designed to strengthen work relationships and enhance career development and for that reason, most experts recommend they’re held weekly.
Staff meetings are best held daily or weekly (depending on your requirements) but a well designed agenda will keep them on track.
Project meetings are also best held weekly. For projects that move fast, agile teams might need to meet daily to resolve issues quickly.
Ask your team for feedback
To understand how meetings affect your team, ask them for their thoughts. How beneficial are the meetings you have? How impactful (detrimental) are they on individual work?
Consider the leader
A hands off leader might only require monthly meetings with the team, whereas a more involved leader might require weekly team meetings.
How to improve your team meetings with Saberr
Establishing the meeting cadence that works for your managers and the teams they lead may sound like a challenge, but it's not. At least, it doesn't have to be.
By determining the purpose of each meeting and the outcomes they want to achieve, they'll be far better equipped to determine just how frequently these meetings should occur.
At Saberr, we've developed a combination of experiences that can support you and your managers with reducing the time being spent in ineffective meetings, while improving the quality of those that do take place.
In fact, we not only help them determine the right meeting cadence, but we also support them in establishing meeting ground rules—in turn, supporting improvements in psychological safety—while also helping them bring structure to their meetings and have more meaningful conversations with their team members.
Finally, we use nudges to prompt all attendees to contribute to the digital agenda in advance, which ensures that the meetings are fully inclusive and that all team members have a voice.
To learn more about how we can help improve the meetings that take place across your organization—including the ROI of using our technology—have a read of this. Alternatively, if you'd like to speak us, schedule a call at a time that suits you here.