10 Best Practices in Facilitating Leadership Team Meetings

CoffeePals Team
CoffeePals Team
February 15, 2024
10 Best Practices in Facilitating Leadership Team Meetings

Magic can happen in any leadership team meeting. Leaders coming together to discuss strategy and vision set the stage for their teams to perform and thrive in the workplace.

But even leaders can get caught up in the moment, and meetings can get chaotic if you’re not too careful. That’s why we’ve put together these ten best practices that would help you ensure that meetings are as productive as possible.

1. Create an agenda

Setting an agenda before a meeting provides structure and direction, ensuring the discussion focuses on key topics and objectives. It contributes to the overall efficiency and success of the meeting.

To create an effective agenda, here are some things you should consider:

  • Ensure the agenda aligns with the overall objectives of the team or organization.
  • Prioritize agenda items based on urgency, importance, and relevance.
  • Clearly articulate the purpose and expected outcomes for each agenda item.
  • Allocate specific time slots for each agenda item.
  • Share the agenda with participants in advance so they can review materials, gather information, and come prepared.
  • Consider items from the previous meeting that must be followed up and updated.

By following these tips, leaders can create an agenda that guides the meeting effectively and sets the stage for a collaborative and productive discussion.

2. Set some ground rules

Ground rules provide a framework for behavior, communication, and collaboration, ensuring that meetings are efficient, respectful, and focused on achieving their objectives. Some standard ground rules followed in meetings include:

  • Turn off mobile devices or set them to silent mode.
  • Respect the confidentiality of discussed information.
  • Come prepared by reviewing agenda materials in advance.
  • Listen actively and avoid interruptions.
  • Avoid side conversations to maintain focus.
  • Express concerns or disagreements in a respectful manner.

You can write these ground rules on a slide and flash them on the screen, or the facilitator could mention them before the meeting starts. These rules could also be customized to suit the team's unique dynamics and objectives.

3. Encourage pre-meeting preparation

Pre-meeting preparation ensures that participants come to the meeting well-informed, ready to contribute meaningfully, and equipped with the necessary background information. This helps to streamline discussions and maximize the meeting's productivity.

What are some common prep work that you should remind your participants about?

  • Review the meeting agenda and any accompanying materials distributed in advance.
  • Gather relevant data beforehand.
  • Prepare questions and possible talking points related to agenda items.
  • Review any action items or tasks assigned from previous meetings.
  • Ensure all necessary technology, such as video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams or presentation software like Canva, works correctly.

These pre-meeting preparations ensure that participants are active contributors, making the most of the meeting time and contributing to the team's overall effectiveness.

4. Rotate facilitators

Rotating facilitators at leadership meetings can have a positive impact on team dynamics. It allows individuals to hone their facilitation skills, practice decision-making, and enhance their ability to effectively guide and engage the team.

When team members take turns leading meetings, it promotes a collaborative culture in which everyone is actively involved in the group's success and effectiveness. It also empowers individuals to take ownership of the discussions and decisions.

You can create a rotation schedule or ask who wants to volunteer to be the next facilitator at the end of every meeting. Here are some best practices that could help you rotate this role seamlessly:

  • Provide guidance and support for those who are new to the facilitator role.
  • Encourage feedback from the facilitator and the team after each meeting.
  • Maintain flexibility in the rotation system, especially if a team member is unavailable or feels unprepared for a particular meeting.
  • Seek input from the team regarding the facilitator rotation system.

Implementing a rotation system for facilitators in leadership meetings requires careful planning and consideration of the team's dynamics. By establishing a fair and transparent process, promoting voluntary participation, and offering support, you can create an environment where everyone can contribute to meeting facilitation.

leadership team meeting

5. Use parking lots

A "parking lot" is a designated space where participants can temporarily set aside or "park" topics, questions, or ideas that arise during discussions but are not directly relevant to the current agenda. It helps prevent disruptions to the meeting's flow while ensuring that valuable thoughts and concerns are remembered and addressed.

The facilitator typically manages the parking lot, deciding when and how to address the items parked. To determine which topics to park, consider the following:

  • Relevance to the current agenda
  • Time sensitivity
  • Need for further research or information
  • Consensus to address later
  • Complex or divergent discussions

Ultimately, the decision to use a parking lot and which topics to park depends on the facilitator's judgment, the meeting's goals, and the needs of the participants.

6. Ensure balanced participation

Balanced participation in leadership meetings contributes to a more inclusive and effective decision-making process. It ensures that a diverse range of perspectives, experiences, and insights are considered during discussions and encourages the exploration of different ideas and approaches.

Here are some best practices to make sure there is balanced participation in every meeting:

  • Communicate the expectation of active involvement of all team members.
  • Ensure that speaking opportunities are distributed evenly among team members.
  • Actively encourage quieter or less vocal team members to share their thoughts.
  • Regularly acknowledge and appreciate contributions from all team members.
  • Consider using breakout sessions to provide a less intimidating setting for team members to express their thoughts.

By implementing these strategies, leaders can foster a culture of equality, respect diverse perspectives, and enhance the overall effectiveness of leadership meetings.

7. Encourage healthy conflict

Encouraging healthy conflict is another way to ensure diverse perspectives in leadership meetings. When managed effectively, conflict fosters a culture of open communication and contributes to the team's overall growth and success.

How can you ensure that conflicts remain healthy and not destructive?

  • Set the expectation that conflict is a natural part of discussions and is welcomed when approached constructively.
  • Position conflict as an opportunity for problem-solving rather than a negative aspect of team dynamics.
  • Discourage personal attacks, derogatory language, or any actions that can escalate conflicts to destructive levels.
  • If conflicts become intense, consider implementing cooling-off periods.
  • Be prepared to intervene when conflicts become unproductive.

Encouraging healthy conflict requires a proactive and intentional approach. By fostering a culture that embraces diverse perspectives, promoting respectful communication, and providing the necessary tools for conflict resolution, leaders can create an environment where conflicts contribute positively to team dynamics and decision-making processes.

8. Emphasize data-driven discussions

Data-driven discussions ensure decisions are based on factual information rather than assumptions or personal opinions. They promote objectivity in evaluating performance, projects, and strategies and help teams assess situations impartially.

To ensure that discussions remain data-driven, here are a few strategies:

  • Incorporate data review as a standard item on meeting agendas.
  • Clearly define relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to provide a basis for the data that will drive discussions.
  • Regularly update and review the data to ensure it remains current and reflects the organization's status.
  • Present data through visualizations such as charts, graphs, or dashboards to make complex information more accessible.
  • Encourage participants to challenge assumptions by seeking data to support or refute claims.

Integrating data-driven discussions into the fabric of leadership meetings will help the leadership team achieve strategic objectives more effectively. It also provides insights into potential risks and challenges, allowing leaders to anticipate issues, make proactive adjustments, and minimize negative impacts on projects or goals.

facilitating leadership team meetings

9. Make room for recognition

Recognizing achievements, milestones, and contributions acknowledges individuals' efforts, boosts morale, and reinforces a sense of value within the team. 83.6% of employees say recognition motivates them to succeed, and leaders are no different.

What are some things you can recognize during meetings?

  • Individual and team achievements
  • Creative and innovative solutions implemented by teams and individuals
  • Years of service (in case anyone is celebrating their work anniversaries)
  • Professional development (promotions, new skills, or certifications)
  • Positive customer feedback

The recognition doesn’t have to be grand. A small token of appreciation or even a simple mention during the meeting would suffice, especially if you have separate recognition events in your workplace.

10. Summarize the takeaways

Summaries clarify key points, decisions, and action items discussed during the meeting, reducing the risk of misunderstandings among team members. A well-summarized document is a roadmap for implementing decisions and becomes valuable reference material for future meetings.

To help document the key takeaways from each meeting, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Assign someone to take detailed notes during the meeting, capturing key points, decisions, and action items.
  • Leverage collaboration tools or project management platforms like Trello or Padlet to document meeting takeaways digitally.
  • Organize the summary in a structured format, including sections for key discussion points, decisions made, action items, and any follow-up tasks.
  • Highlight action items and assign responsibility to specific team members.
  • Document unresolved questions or items that require further clarification in the summary.
  • Distribute the meeting summary promptly after the meeting concludes.

Documenting key meeting takeaways contributes to more effective decision-making and the successful implementation of team initiatives.

TIP: It’s All About the Follow-Up

No matter how efficient and productive leadership meetings are, progress is impossible without follow-ups. 

Following up ensures that decisions made in the meeting are put into action, preventing delays or oversights. It also holds team members accountable for the action items assigned to them.

Aside from the usual exchange of emails or sending updates through collaboration tools, one-on-one check-ins are a great way to follow up with each team member. This ensures that the conversation is more focused on the relevant areas for discussion.

A virtual coffee chat platform like CoffeePals is an excellent tool for these one-on-one check-ins. It provides a more relaxed environment, allowing for more creative discussion of each agenda item. 

Download CoffeePals now and start leveling up your one-on-one check-ins with fellow leaders and other team members.

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