Hybrid work: 4 roles to assign in every meeting

Keeping meetings focused and effective can be extra challenging in a hybrid work environment. Try implementing these roles to stay on track
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Have your remote meetings become stale and ineffective?

Whether your organization is planning to implement a hybrid work model or some other post-pandemic strategy, remote meetings are here to stay.

Think about whether your meetings are suffering from the following common problems:

  • Lack of decision-making
  • Lack of debate or limited sharing of opinions
  • Over-reliance on consensus
  • Redundancy ("Couldn't this have been an email?")

These pain points usually happen because everyone wants a voice, a vote, and/or veto power. Assigning the following four roles for every meeting can make your meetings much more productive.

1. The decision-maker

Employees may initially be skeptical in assigning a decision-maker, but doing so can enable faster, better decisions. When everyone in a meeting feels like they have a voice, a vote, and veto power, teams often craft solutions that attempt to accommodate everyone’s input. The result? An ineffective solution that no one is happy with.

To prevent this, assign a decision-maker in advance and ask them who they will need to speak with and what they will need to do to make an informed decision. Chances are the team members in the meeting will all be interviewed; they just won’t make the final decision.

[ Want more advice on remote meetings? Read also: Hybrid work: 7 signs that meeting should be an email.]

It is important that everyone feels heard. The decision-maker then announces their decision, explaining both the context and the process they used to make it.

The most critical part of decision-making is commitment. You’re not looking for consensus, and not everyone will be happy with the final decision – but everyone must commit to it.

One of our favorite Amazon leadership principles is “disagree and commit.” Welcome heated debates and encourage all team members to offer other opinions until the very end. However, make it clear that once a decision is made, all team members are expected to commit to it wholeheartedly. 

As long as everyone feels that their opinions were heard and respected, you shouldn't have a problem getting commitment.

To create accountability, the facilitator should ask every team member individually if they are committed to the decision. As long as everyone feels that their opinions were heard and respected, you shouldn’t have a problem getting commitment.

2. The facilitator

The facilitator is the most important role. In fact, we recommend that all employees be trained in facilitation.

Here are some qualities of a great facilitator:

  • They facilitate discussion rather than being the dominant voice in the meeting.
  • They encourage opinions, making sure quiet people get a voice, respectfully quieting the louder voices when necessary, and ensuring that employees working remotely (who can often be overlooked) are also seen and heard.
  • They summarize thoughts, ideas, and input.
  • They stay on topic, not letting conversations stray from the agenda.
  • They move meetings along, covering all topics on the agenda while staying on time.
  • They establish accountability. A strong facilitator does not end a meeting until everyone knows what everyone is going to do and how they are going to do it – and if people don’t volunteer, the facilitator assigns tasks. The facilitator is also responsible for setting check-in dates and deadlines to ensure that team members can see progress.

Bonus tip: To increase engagement, assign a different facilitator for each meeting. It’s a terrific way to develop leadership skills, and employees will develop empathy if they know that everyone will have this role at some point.

3. The notetaker

The facilitator does a lot – taking notes shouldn’t be one of them. Assign another team member who can type up summaries and accountability items in real time. Determine who should receive the notes and get them sent out ASAP.

4. The timekeeper (optional)

If your meetings often run too long or if you don’t get through all your agenda items, the timekeeper can help keep things moving along more efficiently.

In practice, assigning these four roles in your hybrid meetings makes a world of difference. It ensures that every meeting moves you closer to your end goal: making important decisions and ensuring that all team members are aligned and committed to the execution.

Now, pull up your calendar and look at your next meeting: Who can you assign these roles to? Give it a try and see for yourself how much more you can accomplish in one meeting.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Kate Yuan is a startup consultant with a focus on go-to-market strategies and enterprise sales. She has worked with startups in four continents and 30+ countries as an investor, advisor, and operator. Most recently, she was the Operating Partner at Hemi Ventures, an early-stage fund investing in mobility, biotech and enterprise AI sectors.
Lori Dernavich is a Leadership Development Advisor with two decades of experience in advising high tech, deep tech, and life sciences executives. She works with Fortune 500 leaders and startup founders to develop the leadership skills they and their organizations need to be successful.