I'm a new manager, what meeting cadence should I use?

I’ve just been promoted to be manager of a team of five engineers. I’ve been a senior in the team for a few years, but this is my first experience as a manager.

My biggest bugbear when I was an individual contributor was having too many meetings. Now I’m a manager I want to reduce the number of meetings, but I don’t want to miss anything important.

What do people recommend in terms of number of meetings, how to run them?

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Try reducing structured meetings but allow more unstructured meetings. For example 30 mins a fortnight instead of 1 hour a week is 75 reduction. You should then have free time to meet about what matters :slight_smile: This obviously varies a lot in departments, roles etc. Have fun!

Make sure you don’t waste time or pad meetings to finish in the scheduled time. There is nothing worse that a 30 minute meeting that “pads out” to 60 because everyone knows an hour has been scheduled.

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Does the cadence of meetings have to be locked in place? Have a plan, collaborate on it, and review the cadence plan periodically.

Also, what is the purpose of the meetings? Relationship building? Development? Project updates? I echo what @BatmanRay has said about format around having a mix of structured and unstructured meetings

As an idea, a meeting plan could alternate weekly between:

  • 30 minutes: Relationship building + Project update
  • 60 minutes: Relationship building + Development Conversations

Over time you might move to:

  • Fortnightly 60 minutes: Relationship building + Development Conversations
  • Unstructured catchups

Collaborate on it, try it on for size, then evaluate later on to ensure everybody is getting what they need. Most importantly, communicate that this is the process!

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I’ve always been a big fan of the Team stand-up at the beginning of the week where you quickly have each person highlight what’s on for the week and talk about any areas that they may need help with-as long as it’s quick and doesn’t go into a list of all the tasks that have been done or need to be done.

In terms of more structured team meetings, I’ve worked with teams who have fortnightly meetings where one was structured with a set agenda, usually driven by the leader (important updates for the team including what’s going on outside of the team to keep them connected) and then the next fortnightly meeting agenda is set at the beginning of the meeting where everyone contributes their topic to the agenda and then you agree how to prioritise each topic.

Finally, as a new leader, please don’t forget the importance of your 1:1’s. I would suggest these should occur once a month at a minimum. Now that you’ve taken on a leadership role, it’s time for you to let go of some of the “doing” to make space for more of the “leading” work.

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I think it depends on how well you know the team and their respective level of experience. If they are new and more junior then perhaps twice a week for 30 minutes. If been with you on the journey and work well independently then maybe a stand up or coffee once a week.

Depends how much coaching is required as well. If it is a management approach with a coaching element then the need for meetings is obviously lower. Also what sort of meetings are you having…what do you want to achieve?

Hi Jon,
You ask a great question. If you want to craft an extraordinary team then you must focus on enhancing your teams learning from day-to-day experience. You need to pay attention to people’s growth over time, keep track of their experiences and what competencies were developed. You can do that by developing the habit of regular one-to-one and team conversations:

• Weekly Individual Check-ins – Holding a weekly, short one-on-one is critical to keeping people energized. It is an opportunity to touch base on goals and progress, and to learn what you can do to support achieving them. The conversations should be biased towards asking questions versus giving direction and should support versus asking for a report. You should be sure to mention any existing gaps and the progress on closing them.

• Monthly Team Reviews – These team meetings should focus on your team’s progress against existing goals, including closing gaps, ensuring alignment of purpose, processes, and priorities, and reviewing the latest feedback for new gaps. Most importantly, these reviews should be action oriented with clear ownership and follow-up on prior actions.

• Quarterly 1-to-1 Reviews – This once-per-quarter discussion around effort, performance, and career offers an opportunity to ensure clear alignment between each team member’s role and purpose with that of the team and organization. It is also an opportunity to reinforce team norms as well as the part each team member plays in upholding those values. And, as always, to maintain a focus on the progress to close existing gaps.

Team coaching is all about the relationship between you and your team. Always start with what your team expects of you. It is a collaborative process that builds group support. It encourages open communication among the team and between the you and your team members. Issues can be raised, and possible answers explored in a way that encourages the creativity of all involved. Team relationship coaching that is frequent and based upon regular feedback will also keep you aware of the frustrations or disconnects that can all too quickly lead to deterioration and disengagement.

If you’re interested in the topic of team leadership I publish regularly on my blog www.onehabit.blog

Good luck!
Dr. Jeb Hurley, DBA

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Hi!
Have you asked your team what works best for them?
I offered to have structured time with each team member in my new team but the cadence varies according to their need/preference. We also have an all team meeting to stay connected as one of our team is remote.
Unstructured time together is a regular occurrence but we like to know we have some time set aside when things are more hectic.
I don’t think there is a one size fits all here but knowing what you want the time together to achieve (even if that objective is just to connect) can help set the cadence.
Best of luck!

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One 30m meeting once a week worked for me… but not at the crack of coming in to work. Give everyone 15m or so to get there thoughts together and do a quick one. Then, maybe daily, a quick ‘stand-up’ to check. Leaving your door open and a close relationship works wonders for ‘not getting surprised’ by something!

I have weekly 30 minutes 1:1 walking meetings with all.my DRs. I usually start these meetings with “how you doing?” and usually end them with what are the 3 things you want to achieve this week?

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