Six Essential Steps To Conduct Effective Meetings

In self-managing organisations most of the magic happens in meetings

Self-managing organisations don't have managers.

This doesn't mean that the work normally done by managers in conventional management-led orgs has disappeared entirely. On the contrary, the management part has become even more crucial in a self-managing org, but the difference is that the management part is now done by all the team members together - in addition to their daily operational activities-, instead of by a sole manager who is only occupied with management tasks while the team is only occupied with operational tasks.

For self-managing teams it is therefore common that team members execute operational activities, make policy, work on strategy and evaluate their work together.

To do all these things together in an effective way is hard but essential for the overal health of the org and the team. And because teams make most of their collective decisions in meetings, the effectiveness of a self-managing team is largely determined and achieved by its meetings. When the meetings are effective, the team is effective.

A meeting is effective when it leads to a better execution

Before I jump into the six preconditions of effective meetings, I would like to share what I consider as an effective meeting.

In my view there are three criteria to define the effectiveness of a meeting.


In the first place, the objective of every team in the context of orgs is basically to get things done together.

So a meeting can be considered effective when it leads to a better way of getting things done.


Second, decision-making shouldn't take more or less time than necessary.

Although this is subjective, I believe that anyone can somehow relate to the feeling that often the importance of an agenda item and the time spend discussing it is out of balance.

Sometimes agenda items get more time than they deserve and other moments important items are rushed through the meeting. Finding the balance and spending the right amount of time and attention to agenda items is a skill that teams can develop and that will pay-off in better results, and a boost of positive energy.


And the third criterion to consider a meeting effective is when a team is able to tap into their collective wisdom.

If you consider a meeting as a preserved moment in which a group of people gathers to spend time, attention, and brainpower together on a collective goal, then every meeting has this great potential of catalysing innovative ideas and solutions. Teams that are able to tap into their collective wisdom can squeeze more out of their meetings making them more effective. 

6 Steps to conduct an effective meeting

What follows are the six preconditions to enable effective meetings as a self-managing team.

As is generally the case with self-management, there are no ready-made roadmaps that can guarantee success. The essence of self-management is that you learn by doing. The way of working together as a team only improves by advancing insight, and not by doing exactly what is prescribed in manual or lists with preconditions.

What these preconditions are good for is to provide direction and guidance. The way to go for you as a team is to experiment, hold on to what works and drop what doesn't work.

1. A defined team

The effectiveness of a team begins with making explicit who the actual team members are, what the team does, and why and how the team does what it does.

This clarifies the scope in which the team operates and makes decisions. In this way it becomes more easy in meetings to make a distinction between what is important and what is not.

2. A clear purpose

The next precondition is that the purpose of the meeting is clear.

As mentioned before, self-managing teams are, apart from their operational activities, also concerned with the policy, the strategy and the evaluation of the team. Each of these activities requires different types of meetings.

A self-managing team distinguishes at least the following four different meeting purposes:

  1. Aligning operations.
  2. Improving governance.
  3. Self-evaluation.
  4. Strategising and prioritising.

3. An appropriate structure

When the purpose of the meeting is clear, a format can be chosen that suits the purpose of the meeting.

The following meeting formats are common for the purposes mentioned in the prior precondition.

  1. Action Meeting.
  2. Governance Meeting.
  3. Retrospective.
  4. Strategy Meeting.

4. A Facilitator assigned

To utilise the potential of a meeting it's key to appoint a Facilitator who will guide the team members through the meeting process so that the team members can fully focus on the content of the meeting.

5. A method to set the agenda 

The heart of the meeting is the agenda.

The members of a self-managing team are together responsible of the agenda. Therefore, it's important that the way agenda items can be added to the agenda is clear for everyone. 

6. A transparent archive

By recording and keeping track of what was decided during the meetings you transform every team meeting into a collection of learning moment. 

I recommend teams to appoint an Archive Keeper who has the responsibility to record the minutes of the meeting in a for everyone accessible digital document.

The skill of running effective meetings can only be acquired by doing 

When you want to run meetings more effectively as a team, it is important that you develop a way to structurally acquire advancing insight.

Therefore, build in at least one evaluation moment into every meeting. Usually the check-out at the end of a meeting is a way to do that. It's a round in which every team member gets a chance to give feedback on the meeting process. But also besides the check-out, it is important to give each other feedback so that you can get more out of meetings together.

If you would like to boost the quality of your meetings, please contact us, we would love to help you improve the effectiveness of your meetings!

New Circle Weekly

A weekly newsletter sharing organisational self-management practices, tools, and resources.