written by Erica Quam
How would you rate your team meetings...on a scale of 1 to 10? The response most coaches give is usually a 10...while your athletes may only give you a 4 or a 5.
Try these strategies and elevate your team meetings up to level 10.
1. Try to meet each week, on the same day, at the same time, for the same amount of time.
Help keep your team focused on what's important....especially as the season drags on. If you meet with your team inconsistently, you'll almost always have problems, miscommunications, and conflicts brewing...just below the surface.
A great meeting inspires, informs, and helps you solve problems. When you meet more consistently, you'll spot problems sooner and figure out your next step faster!
Don't try firehose your team and cram every single piece of information you want to communicate to into this meeting. This meeting has a bigger purpose: to get your team talking. Keeping it short and consistent will keep it powerful.
2. Give your group some simple guidelines to make your team meetings more effective.
Guidelines build trust. What's expected? What's okay? What's not okay?
Create a space that's safe for people to speak up, share what's on their minds, and be themselves - without the worry or fear that they'll be judged or criticized. While guidelines aren't magic, they certainly are a good place to start. It's up to your athletes to respect and follow them. It's up to you to model them and enforce them.
Here's an example of the team meeting guidelines I used with my team. I got them from my coach. I still use them for my women's coaching summits and other groups I facilitate.
When things aren't going well on your team & within your team meetings, pull the guidelines back out. Revisit each guideline to explore what might be holding your group back.
3. Stick with a plan
Rather than shooting from the hip, going off on the tangent of the week, or approaching a meeting as an afterthought...keep things simple, organized, & meaningful. (Your athletes actually like structure and consistency!)
Print out a simple agenda and have it available for everyone to follow along and take notes if they'd like - appeasing your visual and kinesthetic learners.
4. Give your athletes an opportunity to lead
Give your athletes an opportunity to be involved in the planning and execution of team meetings. Have a team captain lead the meeting for a day. There's a lot that your athletes can learn by stepping into your shoes for a day. Make this a privilege that's earned.
Have athletes help manage the agenda. Rotate through this responsibility. They can keep track of time, take notes, and make sure all items get covered. They can be in charge of giving those notes back to you AND pass them along to anyone who wasn't there. Sure, your assistant coach can do it. And...it's great to have an athlete invested and involved in another leadership opportunity.
5. Share victories, successes, and things you're proud of
It's your role as the coach to transition your group from working IN your team to working ON your team. One of the best ways to do that is disconnect from the daily grind. Have everyone take a deep breath and change gears.
Remind your athletes that you are all here to do something great. You share a common vision and sense of purpose. Take time to acknowledge, reconnect, and celebrate this. I often used the analogy of our season as an expedition. Update your team on the progress they're making en route towards their goals.
Also, find out what's going well out there from your athletes. Have everyone share a brief weekly headline with the group. If you have a big team, have them share their headlines in smaller groups.
6. To-Do list
Review your to-do's from last week's meeting. Are they "done" or "not done"? If something is done, mark it off the list. If something isn't done, leave it on the list.
This keeps your team accountable to commitments they made last week.
If you don't keep a to-do list and assign a specific person (or people) to each task, you might find you are committing your staff to too many things that never get done. Add this list to your weekly team meetings to get more people involved, stepping up to lead, and taking charge.
7. Help your team solve issues
This is where the magic happens! I really believe in the saying, "it's not the elephant that gets you, it's the ants." If you avoid talking about problems and issues, they will get bigger over time. By implementing this step, you'll get a better sense of the pulse of your team: what you need to work on and what more work needs to be done.
(Before this step, teach your team about conflict. Normalize it as a step all groups go through in the stages of team development: Form-Storm-Norm-Perform. If you can't have healthy discussions over issues, it will turn into conflict about a person. That's when team values really get challenged.)
Talk about any current issues. Rank the issues in order of importance of the top three. Address each issue in order of priority. If you don't prioritize, you may miss out on addressing your team's most important issue.
CAUTION: Just to be clear...this isn't a session where people freely judge, blame, complain, and criticize. That's already been laid out in the team guidelines. If that does happen to you in your weekly meeting, then you're probably working on the wrong issue!
From here, add items to your to-do list for next week. Get a specific person (or people) to commit to each to-do. If you don't get through the list of issues (you most likely won't), table them until the following week. This gives you time to gather info on other issues. You may even discover your athletes begin to figure things out on their own - just by bringing something to this level of consciousness.
8. Wrap it up on time
With five minutes left, switch gears to wrap up your meeting. You can recap your new list of to-do's and make sure everyone has theirs written down. This will also reinforce accountability. Then, bring the meeting to a conclusion and pull the whole meeting together. Re-frame the broad topics that were talked about and make sure there are no loose ends.