Certain meeting formats lend themselves to specific frequency: annual all-staff gatherings, quarterly manager check-ins, weekly leadership meetings, or daily huddles. Other types of meetings are PRN—as needed for opportunities and issues that pop up unexpectedly. You want consistency and frequency in meeting times whenever possible.
The cadence or tempo of communication requires careful consideration. The schedule should not be so infrequent that the team loses its cohesion or has time to become confused. A regular time and structure helps people know what to expect and gives them time to prepare, if necessary. Establishing a set rhythm or tempo can also improve workflow. If employees know beforehand how and when they will be communicating, they can work on other projects prior to meetings and/or appointments.
Honor the Time
Once your meetings are scheduled at regular intervals, be sure to honor the time that’s been set aside and actually have the meetings. Many leaders tend to cancel meetings at the last minute because “something came up” or they were “too busy.” Think to yourself: What message does this send to the team? How highly will they value meetings if they are constantly canceled? If you prioritize the meeting, then the team will follow your example.
Just as bad as canceling a regularly scheduled meeting is calling for a meeting at the last minute when there’s a problem. Some smaller organizations think this ad hoc method is really “all the team needs.” If your MO is to call for meetings only when something goes wrong, people won’t just roll their eyes. They’ll actively avoid the meeting altogether. The word “meeting” will instill fear and frustration. As a leader, you’ll want to make sure that your appropriate cadence calms the fears of your team members.
Establishing an exceptional cadence can be very tricky. You have to strike a perfect balance between frequency and spontaneity that works best for your particular work environment. It is important to discover what cadence you and your team members are most comfortable with. Once your organization sets its standard rhythm, operations will become clearer and more cohesive. It may be a bumpy road in the beginning, but once you find your cadence, it’s important to define it, stick to it, and allow the workflow to engage with it naturally.