Your First Team Meeting

Your first Team Meeting is your most important meeting you will ever hold.

It’s the meeting that will set the direction of your team for the coming days, weeks and months as you embark on your path as a new leader.

It’s not an easy meeting.

It’s not a “what’s everyone working on” meeting.

You probably have a number of items that you want to go over at your first team meeting.

  • Introduce you are
  • Walk through how you got here and what your accomplishments are
  • What are your expectations for the team
  • What goals do you want the team to accomplish

At the end of this you might then ask everyone for their viewpoints and suggestions on source control, coding standards or diagramming controls.

And just like that, you’ve lead your first team meeting in the worst way possible.

What did your Team Contribute to the Meeting?

We’ll get back to your part in a second, but what did your team contribute to this meeting?  Answers to the least important questions that will not affect their development and growth but rather their tactical implementation on your team.

Who cares if they use GIT or TFS or whether they used tabs vs 2 spaces or where they put their brackets.

When it comes to overall team development, no one cares. 

And these questions, these “worthy” questions, after you spent probably 15 – 20 minutes talking about what you have achieved, what you want your team to accomplish and what you expect from them?

The ideas are there, but it’s the execution that’s off.

By tweaking your message you show a different strategy, not necessarily in what you say (don’t worry, you’ll make mistakes) but in the order you place on discussing these items.

The Structure of your First Team Meeting

  • Who are you – Because everyone needs to know who you are before they here what’s next (I’ve forgotten to do this many times), but go light on your accomplishments.  If they want to learn more, they can read up on you on LinkedIn.
  • What do people think we do – Lay it out for them, this is what everyone thinks we’re responsible for – this is a statement
  • Do we really do that? – This is the first ask, is that how we really ourselves?  Is this what we really work on?  Don’t talk, get their feedback on everything else that we do.
  • Where Can I help? – If there is a misalignment, how can you help fix that perception.  If it sounds like they are overloaded, ask them how you can help, it could be simple (better test cases, clearer requirements, a water cooler, source control is garbage, etc).  Put the onus on you, what can YOU do to help them.

At the end of the first meeting, the only action items coming out of it should be from you and for you.  Your role is to help make their life easier.  If you have questions for them, follow-up with them later in the week in a one-on-one basis, for those that are hesitant to speak up, this may be a preferred option.

If you were to compare those messages, which meeting would you rather be a part of?

Everyone wants to be in the second meeting because it is baked with adoption, ownership and leadership.  The first meeting announces that you are the Manager, the second meeting sets the tones that you are the Leader (without dictating it) and you’re here to help wherever you can.

Once you get a handle on some of the quick fixes, next you can start talking to your team about expectations and goals for that quarter, year, etc.  Take the same approach as we did with the second meeting so that the message your team is hearing is – jump in, help me lead this team, I need your ideas, lets own this together – that’s a message that no one wants to ignore.

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