One of the great mysteries of the modern workplace is that we still assess performance on an individual level, when so much of one’s ability to produce results depends on their team. Work is teamwork. Which means that how well a team communicates and collaborates has a significant impact on how well individuals perform.
As a team leader, that makes coordinating collaboration a key part of your role. And the tool most team leaders use for coordination is the team’s weekly meeting. This is where teammates “work out loud” and communicate not just their status update, but where they need help and any project pivots they’ve had to undertake. Some teams use a more or less frequent rhythm than weekly, but all high-performing teams use some regular meeting to synchronize their work.
In this article, we’ll cover the five key items to cover in a team’s weekly meeting.
The first item to cover in a team’s weekly meeting is Wins. You’ll want to take an opportunity right at the beginning of the meeting to let people share recent successes they’ve had. And also celebrate any wins you’ve had as a team, or any milestones you’ve crossed together. Starting with wins accomplishes two things. First, it puts everyone in the right frame of mind to start the meeting. Second, it gives other people the opportunity to share praise and gratitude to their teammates for their help achieving this win. That helps start the meeting with everyone feeling like they’re making a contribution, and that their contribution is noticed and appreciated.
The second item to cover in a team’s weekly meeting is the Status Update. Wins are going to naturally flow to the status update. This section is focused on updating everyone around the progress you’ve made toward objectives. This is where individual teammates review their tasks and provide an update on their progress, but also where they share any decisions they had to make and any pivots they undertook as a result of those decisions. That way when they actually finish their task down the road, no one is surprised that it looks different. This may also be where collective status updates are given about our progress as a team. That helps everyone see how their individual tasks flow into the teamwide objectives.
The third item to cover in a team’s weekly meeting is Priorities. This will also flow naturally from the status update. Now that you know where everyone is on their previous objectives, you can talk about how to organize this week’s tasks and objectives. The priorities section should cover two elements. The first are the next set of objectives. What new tasks have been added to the list or unlocked by accomplishing prior objectives? The second are the new ranking of priorities. Where do these new tasks fit on your existing list of tasks in order of importance? Too many individuals and teams fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent when new tasks get added to the list. So, reviewing and updating the list of priorities helps everyone stay focused and avoids anyone feeling overwhelmed.
The fourth item to cover in a team’s weekly meeting is Roadblocks. Members of the team may have mentioned these a bit in the Status Update section, but this is the time to focus in on any roadblocks faced or challenges anticipated. There are a few types of roadblocks teams face. Some are resource constraints you as the leader need to be aware of. Some are changes in the competitive environment that make the current plan less effective. And some are knowledge or skill gaps that teammates discovered as they try and work on their assigned tasks. In any case, having a dedicated moment in the meeting to discuss them helps your people tell you what they need and helps them opt in to helping each other, which enhances collaboration and productivity.
The final item to cover in a team’s weekly meeting is Purpose. This is the chance to check-in with the team’s motivation and connect the work you’ve just discussed to the organization’s larger mission and vision. It’s also the chance to answer the most pivotal question for individual motivation: “Who is served by the work that we do?” You can do this by showing the team how their assignments connect to the bigger value chain of the organization or by sharing stories of customers or stakeholders who have benefited from your team’s past accomplishments. Regardless, it’s a vital section not just for the jolt of motivation but also to make sure that every weekly team meeting ends on a high note and makes teammates look forward to the next one.
And why wouldn’t they look forward to the next meeting? Following a template like this ensures that the weekly team meeting keeps everyone synced together, keeps them focused on what matters, and reminds them why their work matters. And that’s enough to help any team do their best work ever.
About the author
David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.