Why You Need to Have Team Meetings, and How to Run Them

Most of us have a habit of saying “I hate meetings…there are too many of them…they waste time.”  That is a bad habit and, as leaders, we need to break ourselves of it.  This article, like last week’s on moral authority, is aimed at those who lead small retail financial advisory teams.  The concepts apply to anyone in a leadership role, though. 

Here is the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE and HOW of good team meetings – though not quite in that order!

WHY hold team meetings?  You are the leader.  You are holding meetings for your team, not for yourself.  Here is what your people get out of a regular gathering:

  1. Refuge – it is a short break from your branch, your firm, and your clients.  Team meetings are a huddle that no one else can see into.
  2. Exclusivity – it makes your team special and different to be behind a closed door with each other and with you. 
  3. Order – Everyone joined your team voluntarily because they see value in shared effort and accountability.  A regular meeting is a living, breathing way to provide this.
  4. Agency – A good meeting lets people talk freely.  People get to share their ideas, point out opportunities, and make decisions.

No matter how good of a leader you are, and how great your team is, you want an efficient way to give your people senses of refuge, exclusivity, order, and agency.  So…hold regular meetings.

WHAT (and WHERE) is a team meeting? 

It is a physical gathering where everyone can see each other, and generally only one person can effectively talk at a time.  Meeting should be held in person, with the doors closed to prevent distractions.  It should happen at your place of business, probably in a small conference room.  To keep it professional, brief and personal it shouldn’t be done offsite at a restaurant, or online via a videoconference.  If your team is working remotely most days, tell them to make time to come in for your regular meetings. 

WHEN should I hold a regular team meeting? 

Simple answer for most retail financial teams – hold your meeting every two weeks.  Once a week is too often, once a month is not often enough.  Every ten days means that plenty will have happened since the last meeting, including a couple of weekends.  Pick a day and time and stick with it.  Change it only after due consideration and a vote.  Remember that the meeting is something you hold for them, so it should be scheduled around their schedules, not yours.  Still can’t decide?  Do it every other Thursday at 4:15pm.  Adjust from there.

WHO comes to a team meeting? 

Everyone whose opinion matters.  If your team is 10 people or less, then probably everyone should be at the meeting.  If it is a bigger team then work out some type of representative system for your advisors and staff.  If somebody is disruptive and their participation is counterproductive, then you as the leader need to disinvite them from the meetings.  Tell them why they aren’t invited and give them a chance to reform.  Being a leader is hard, but failing to let someone know why they are being excluded is a mistake.

HOW should I run a team meeting? 

With a very simple agenda, and as quickly as you comfortably can.  A regular meeting held every two weeks should be between 30-45 minutes.  Some teams love to jawbone for hours, which is their business, but most people stop paying attention after 45 minutes.   You set the agenda and hold people to it.

Sample Team Meeting Agenda

Review of Asset Flows (2 minutes) – this kicks off the meeting with a reminder that you are in the money business.  Review key asset flows in and out; read list of new clients; quickly note total AUM and number of client households. 

Top Client Service Priorities (10 minutes) – Work this out with your top admin and other advisors before the meeting.  This is a quick review of specific clients with specific issues, eg. death of spouse, need for international wire, identity theft scare, etc….  Make sure everyone is aware of these front burner client issues.

Open Items from Last Meeting (5-10 minutes) – this is your time to nag without it seeming like nagging.  If there are things that you want to make sure are either done or not, bring it up here. Once you are done, let others do the same.  Make it clear that these items were brought up two weeks ago, and they shouldn’t still be on the table two weeks from now.

Admin Report (5-10 minutes) – Let your top admin person share any changes to policies, procedures or regulations that people need to know.  This is where the advisors get to hear about what is going on under the hood – a very important part of a team meeting.

Things to Fix (5 minutes) – Does anyone have any problems that they need help with?  Is some process broken, and how can we fix?  The point is to identify issues and assign someone to work on fixing them, not to get it solved at the meeting.  Don’t let this drag on.

Things to Build (5 minutes) – Are there any new ideas, procedures or policies that we should consider implementing?  Nothing is to big or too small to discuss here, and anyone should be able to bring up an idea. 

Leaders Comments (2 minutes) – Say something positive.  It could be a quote you heard, a mention of your team’s rankings, or just “thanks” for something unusually good.  If you are going to introduce recognition here, just be consistent.  Wishing half of the people on your team a happy birthday over the course of the year while forgetting the other half is, in a word, bad.

Related: The Right Way To Gain Authority Over Your People