How do you feel about meetings? What makes a good one?

You may be surprised to learn that many love meetings. For them, the gatherings satisfy an otherwise unmet need for social connection. But do these meeting lovers necessarily exit feeling motivated and engaged in their work? And what about their teammates who don’t get that same satisfaction, or who get enough social connection elsewhere?

Let’s uncover why some people like meetings more than others and how to make them productive events that foster employee satisfaction and engagement.

Satisfaction vs. Engagement
In workplace conversations, satisfaction and engagement are often conflated. But failing to understand the difference can be harmful to the employee experience. According to the Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA), employee satisfaction is a one-way street (What can my workplace do for me?), while engagement is a two-way street (What can my workplace and I accomplish together?). So while employees may be satisfied by the social element of meetings, that doesn’t necessarily translate to productivity.

Research has found that employees with a strong desire to accomplish work goals tend to feel lower satisfaction as they attend more meetings, while those who are less goal-oriented express a desire to attend more of them (the latter group may include those yearning for social connection). Of course, we want our teams to enjoy interacting at work, but good meetings must yield both satisfaction and engagement.

How to Foster Employee Satisfaction in Team Meetings
Employees who are satisfied with their work stay at their jobs longer and do better work. According to Forbes, fostering employee satisfaction means managing what motivates people: “what work they’re doing, why they’re doing it, who they’re working with, how they’re being evaluated, and growth opportunities.” In other words, managers can foster employee satisfaction in meetings that offer more than social connection.

The following are ways leaders can use meetings to improve employee satisfaction:

  • Create opportunities for team members to connect. Although social connection isn’t the only way to promote satisfaction in meetings, it still matters. Consider implementing regular check-ins or ice-breakers at the beginning of each meeting. This HBR article suggests several fun, creative meeting openers.
  • Respect your team’s time. Maybe the ideas don’t start flowing until ten minutes before the scheduled end time, and you want to make sure you capitalize on the surge of productivity. But no matter how productive and enjoyable a meeting may feel to you, going over your scheduled time — or trying to fill time despite having nothing productive to do — can make employees feel like their time is not being respected.
  • Highlight what employees are bringing to the table in the short and long–term. Spotlighting your team members’ skills not only reinforces good performance but also motivates them to continue building those skills.
  • Make meetings accessible and inclusive. To promote belonging in meetings, make sure to accommodate the unique needs of your team members. You can do this by administering confidential questionnaires to determine the needs of each employee — i.e. whether someone needs meetings to be recorded and/or transcribed, whether they prefer visual aids, etc.

Now let’s explore the engagement component of meetings.

How to Foster Employee Engagement in Team Meetings
For meetings to be productive, employees need to be engaged. And for employees to feel engaged, they need to know that the work they put in counts for something — both in terms of the company’s goals and their individual career goals. 

Here are some ways to get teams engaged during meetings:

  • Encourage participation from all team members. A team member who is often quiet may want to contribute but struggles with jumping in. Consider making a point to ask each individual if they have anything to add (not just a hasty “Anything else?”).
  • Give constructive feedback. Team meetings are not necessarily the time to deep-dive into what an individual employee needs to work on. But there’s nothing wrong with pointing out where the team as a whole (manager included) needs to up its game.
  • Remind your employees why they are doing the work they are doing. During team meetings, remind everyone of the big picture— the company’s purpose, and how the work each person does contributes to that purpose.
  • Make action items and key takeaways clear by the end of the meeting. Employees will have an easier time seeing purpose in a meeting when action items are identified. To maintain momentum, the manager or team lead can follow up via email outlining the action item assignments.

Does your team struggle with meetings? Visit my website to learn how I can help.


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