Aunty B: My staff are hopeless at team meetings – help!

Dear Aunty B,

My business partner and I have somehow managed to employ a group of people who seem completely incapable of running or participating in effective team meetings. Every time we get together, the meeting descends into chaos. Before long, everyone is interrupting each other and we inevitably end up discussing topics that were never in the original schedule.

Is it possible to run effective meetings in a workplace? Or should we just give up now?

Over it,


Dear Over it,

It is possible to run effective team meetings and no, you should definitely not give up.

As the leader of a business it’s up to you to set the tone for team meetings and from the sounds of it, the time has well and truly come for you to put your foot down. These people work for you but without them, you’re business could grind to a standstill. You have to find a way to communicate with them.

Without knowing how much effort currently goes into your meeting “schedules”, this is the place to start making changes. You need to set a formal agenda for the meetings with your entire team – and you need to stick with it. While you may be able to lose some of the formality down the track, right now we need to re-set expectations.

Over at Harvard Business Review, Roger Schwarz has some terrific tips for how to design an agenda for an effective meeting, along with a template you could try following.

As Schwarz explains:

“An effective agenda sets clear expectations for what needs to occur and before a meeting. It helps team members prepare, allocates time wisely, quickly gets everyone on the same topic, and identifies when the discussion is complete. If problems still occur during the meeting, a well-designed agenda increases the team’s ability to effectively and quickly address them.”

Have a go at designing an agenda for your next team meeting and send it to your employees well before the meeting starts. Ask for their input about the topics they want to talk about and assign someone to be responsible for each item on the list. And make sure you follow through with what was discussed.

Be smart,

Aunty B


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