A series of communications to help improve engineering and project management teams

Does your team have a written set of guidelines used for its meetings? These can be helpful by
communicating unwritten customs and standard operating procedures. Develop these jointly as a group.
With past personnel turnover at 30-40% annually, there are always new people struggling to understand
how a team new to them conducts its business. Your team should consider adopting some from this
example list, and tailor as you deem appropriate:

1)        All team members should maintain their work schedule in Outlook so that colleagues can easily
see availability in setting meeting times. If you are unable to attend a meeting already accepted,
participants should communicate this to the [team leader].
2)        Demonstrating respect for our time, all meetings of [example: one hour] or more will use a timed
agenda made available to all team members at least [you decide time period] in advance.
3)        Participants should respect the time targets set by the agenda. As such, they must be prepared to
take discussion offline, or defer to another meeting, or provide a strong basis for extending the time during
the meeting.
4)        All participants have the right to be informed in advance regarding any expectations for their
contribution to the meeting, other than for previously assigned action items.
5)        Starting and ending in time is important. All participants are expected to be in the meeting room or
on the telecon number at the meeting start designated time. Similarly, unless with group consensus,
meetings should conclude at the designated time.
6)        If participants must arrive late to a meeting, the team will not recap to bring them back up to speed. If
they have to leave early, let the [team leader] know beforehand, and be respectful and leave quietly
7)        Our team strives to make all non-major decisions through a [you choose - consensus, democratic,
participative] process that are reflected in meeting minutes.
8)        It is expected that all participants will demonstrate respect for each other and will listen attentively to
each other. There is no place for dismissive or derogatory interaction.
9)        Our team [does / does not] accept the practice of using the Blackberry to check or respond to emails
during meetings.
10)        Use of teleconferencing. While it may be difficult to avoid using your computer during a
teleconference, it certainly removes your attention from the discussion. We recommend you refrain from
using any device that will distract from your ability to listen and participate. Also, our team doesn’t like to
hear background noise during a teleconference, such as keyboard typing, music, or dogs barking. If you
want to add to the conversation and are not at the main meeting, we suggest you politely request to
interject, and speak clearly and slowly.
11)        Differing viewpoints and conflict of ideas is expected and welcomed as the best way we can arrive
at sound decisions. Any “devil’s advocate” viewpoints should be respectfully shared and identified as such.
12)        Meeting minutes are prepared for scheduled meetings and are made available to participants
within three business days.

There are undoubtedly many protocols you may consider adopting, and they don’t have to be lengthy.
What’s important is that you adopt something instead of relying on unwritten standards of conduct and

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Tool #4 - Prepare Team Meeting Guidelines