We are a small (5 people) team of geographically dispersed employees in a big international corporation. Up until now, our manager decided not to have 1-to-1 meetings with any of us, but a single weekly 2-hour meeting in which we would all in turn tell about our activities and our issues. I always thought this was a waste of time, as we were all talking to her only, while other team members were actually distracted or working discretely on their computers. I am not sure I can blame them for this, as the whole format of the meeting seems problematic to me. The official goal was to make sure all team members were aware of what's going on in the team, and allowing people to cover for others during holidays. Most often than not I've observed that the meetings resulted in a mix of bragging for some achievements, and complaining for all the difficult challenges each had/has to face.
Now, I was recently appointed the new team leader. I have no management experience, so I wonder on how to improve things and make those meetings more efficient. My first idea would be to schedule weekly 1-to-1 meetings with all team members, and to shorten the global team meeting to make it something like "share your challenges on which you need a brainstorm, or help from the team". Each team member would not have to talk in turn, if they have not much to add. I am also thinking of having 2 team meetings per week to increase the pace a bit, while not doing like the digital equivalent of a daily stand-up (that would be difficult considering the timezones!). What is relevant also is that we do not report on hours spent on each topic, which to me is a bummer, because that could help me in my new position see the disparities of work between team members and the overall time we spend on each project. Since it's just not standard practice in the company, I don't see how I could implement something similar in the team.
The reporting to the department head was previously done through a different process, where each team member would send weekly a standardized short document, that would be summarized and merged by the team leader. That resulted in some redundancy and team members complained. I am not sure if this particular redundancy is bad, or bad enough to want to avoid it. It might not be a best practice but I was thinking of keeping this the same.
My question is then, in this context, what would be a better approach to team meetings and reporting that would be efficient and respect everybody's time? ideally I would want it to encourage people to be productive, and discourage the bragging and complaining for the sake of it.