Regular meetings are essential when people work as a team to accomplish a goal. Meetings are the vehicle not only for exchanging information with each other, but also for creating a sense of support and connection among the members of the team.
One of my favorite teams in my life is my family. We are a dynamic and diverse group of individuals with a shared passion for living a life full of joy. During our team meeting last week, I enjoyed seeing how, by slightly adapting the same strategies I use in my business, we navigate charged and sticky situations, create solutions, and build team support and connection along the way.
Here are six success strategies we use for team meetings.
Team leaders do their homework. As team leader, I did pre-meeting research about what issues were likely to come up during our time together. I gathered the supplies we needed for our meeting, and I scheduled our meeting at a time of day when people would be well-fed, relaxed, and willing to come together. I bring the same level of commitment and intentionality to our family meetings as I would for meeting with any of my business or client teams.
We have a clear topic and focus for our meetings. Last week’s topic was chores and allowance. During the meeting, one daughter wanted to discuss what would be involved in changing her room around. We acknowledged the importance of her request, and agreed to schedule a separate time to focus on that topic.
We start by listening and listing. On a large, dry-erase poster board, we listed the answers we heard from each family member when we asked these questions: What is working well? What could be working better? What else would you like to say?
We accept and honor the fact that individuals on our team think, create, and solve problems in different ways. My younger daughter shares my love of schedules, lists, and time estimates. During the working part of our meeting, she chose many of the same strategies I do for breaking a problem into pieces and then creating a handwritten, visual plan with linear steps. My older daughter feels constrained, almost panicked, when asked to work with processes that are linear, time-bound, and handwritten. When this daughter was ready to work and create, she chose to use a program on the iPad to organize her thoughts with a creative flair. In the end, each family member brought back to the team brought back a product that worked well to manage individual parts of what the entire team needed.
We make sure people feel supported throughout the process. During the most challenging parts of our meeting, we snuggled on the couch. Given the ages and personalities of our team, we rely on touch and physical proximity to create safety and connection. For some parts of the meeting, we broke into smaller work groups and spread out to have more space to work individually or privately with a partner.
We celebrate and have a good time. Even though we will need to meet again to solve some of the items we discussed, there was plenty to acknowledge about last week’s meeting. Coming together as a team, navigating tough conversations, and working together to create joy are all significant accomplishments. One of our favorite ways of celebrating is pulling out mint chip ice cream or raspberry popsicles and savoring together the sweetness of being a family team.