There’s more to a good meeting than teaching everyone how to use videoconferencing software. Especially if you’re in a business that hadn’t previously relied on remote workers, the pandemic has more than likely forced you into an adjustment period in facilitating productive meetings (on Zoom, or whatever tool you’re using).
In this post we’re going to give you some specific guidance on how to do manage a remote team using a visual meeting board. We’re going to do that by talking specifically about keeping people engaged and focused, both during the remote meeting, and throughout their work day and work week.
Step 1: Set an Agenda
Through experience, we’ve settled on a weekly meeting of one hour max for our team. To make this work, we need an agenda to make sure it’s not just an hour of herding cats, so to speak. This is going to be Part 1 of our visual board, and we intentionally build the agenda in a collaborative way. This builds trust in our team and makes everyone feel part of the process.
(In this same way, we also rotate our facilitators. We want our meetings to have a consistent structure that allows each team member to step in and run it when it’s their turn, but rotating who leads keeps consistent from becoming repetitive. There’s a formula the facilitator knows they can plug into)
In Cardsmith, you can start this process using our Shared Meeting Agenda template. We encourage any team member to come in and add agenda items before the meeting.
You can add columns to plan our agendas as far ahead as you want. As time goes by, you can go back to the visual board and hide columns for meetings that have already happened, which still leaves them available for team members who want to, maybe, revisit a topic from an older meeting.
Step 2: Prioritize the Agenda
Since we’re only allowing ourselves an hour, one key we’ve found is to prioritize.
Having an icebreaker item at the beginning helps everyone ease into the flow of the meeting time, so you could mention a company milestone, announce someone’s return from vacation of the like.
We also feel that having a productive remote team starts with accountability, so our first impactful agenda item is to review the action items from the previous week. This creates continuity.
Even the prioritizing of items is a collaborative process that we do during the meeting. Obviously if there are brush fires that need to be put out, we move that first. If there are items we don’t get to they’re simply dropped into the next week’s agenda. With Cardsmith you can color code each card that corresponds to an agenda item, by department, by severity, by individual person, it’s all flexible to your system.
Step 3: Decisions
Since we’ve built the meeting in a collaborative fashion, we want to have a section on our visual board to show when we’ve reached consensus, and that’s the Decisions section.
Again, you can use this as an accountability tool. Summarizing the previous week’s Decision section in the following week’s meeting can also be used to remind everyone what road we’ve decided to take on a particular business issue.
Step 4: Action Items
Our third and final section is Action Items, which tend to be populated as we discuss Agenda items. Again we can color-code to give responsibility for the processes in a decision to a specific person or department.
While much of this might seem to be obvious as we talk about it, we have found that Cardsmith can produce advantages in managing a remote team over other software like spreadsheets or simple documents. The visual metaphor of “real world” sticky notes tends to be memorable and easily useful, even for team members who haven’t worked remotely before, which produces higher engagement over time.
Finally, we’ve found that our tool makes your meetings easier to manage, but it’s still important to remember the human side
- Lead with an accountability step, but don’t get bogged down: Keep the total meeting time in mind.
- Rotate facilitation responsibilities to give all team members a stake in the process, and keep the agenda from being driven by one viewpoint.
- Stick to your stated meeting length. It builds trust that your value your team’s time the same way you do yours.