When I was pulled into team meetings each week, I experienced a dark, gray cloud over my mornings.
Team meetings are not always fun; the activities become monotonous, and rooted in work pressure.
I have worked as a freelancer in graphic design on several projects, and part of my work has been to take in the climate of the organization before I can build communications and systems and marketing collateral for these companies. I have been asked on several occasions to join team meetings when I’m working on new designs with an organization. In these moments, I have had to sit back and listen to conversations, inhale the culture, and exhale a product.
Everywhere I’ve worked and been and visited, I have witnessed the relatively same, traditional routine: the awkward quietness, and the anxious feeling of thinking about what I could be doing besides sitting through the lengthy, mundane, team meeting (that probably, could have – should have – been an email)!
In the past, team meetings in the workplace have all been less than relaxing and littered with tasks and agendas and presentations. Since the pandemic, however, I have witnessed workspaces be open to less rigid agendas and build spaces for trust.
Here are some takeaways I’ve learned to intentionally set up meetings that better serve everyone on the team.
Set the Vibe
Play some music and set the tone. In my experience, many team meetings start very straightforward, awkward, and quiet until we’re all asked to share something about ourselves in some form of check-in or another. Music is a powerful tool that gets the energy going and can boost the mood, especially preceding high-level agendas. Platforms like Spotify are updated regularly with hours of endless “work” music. Try creating a work playlist where everyone can contribute to the music selection. This opens up space to learn about your colleagues and their culture. Host “work sessions” where everyone is invited to work closely– or in the same Zoom room– and listen to music together.
Depending on how large your team is, breaking up the team meeting icebreaker into smaller group settings would be useful and allow the team to learn something different about their colleague in a more intimate setting. It allows people to be intentional, share feedback, and learn more about one another.
Read the Room
Toxic workspaces can seep into any environment when an organization is not actively practicing to dismantle unhealthy work habits. Traditional workplace culture can often be accompanied by a high level of urgency, causing anxiety among those who work there. Try creating intentional learning spaces and “mindful moments” during team meetings. Here are some intentional learning practices during team meetings:
- Hold space for “intentional check-ins.” Not every team meeting needs to be filled with an agenda or critical feedback. Host a smaller timed check-in as a group or individually.
- Lead a 10-minute breathing exercise before a meeting can decrease anxiety.
By being intentional with team-building exercises and routines, we can begin dismantling toxicity in workplace culture. Instead, get creative with your team meetings to promote healthier, more effective workplace habits.
Monti Hill, Gladiator Consulting
believes that community engagement and community-led policies have the potential to develop conducive change when the voices of the community are at the center. She serves on the State Board for the Missouri Women’s Political Caucus as the VP of Communications. She joined the Ambassador Board of Generate Health to bring more awareness to infant mortality in the black community. Over the years, she has consulted small businesses and nonprofits with community engagement strategies, political organizing, and brand consulting. In her spare time, she makes digital graphics to amplify progressive local leaders’ voices.
To learn more about Monti, click here.