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Meetings Require Discipline.

Exploring aspects of conversation, both personal and professional

 

With the New Year coming rapidly upon us and we all start to think about those New Year’s resolutions (exercise more, eat better, meditate daily ….) have you considered a resolution for your business too?

If not, can I suggest you focus on improving your meetings. Meetings often have a bad reputation and not without cause, consider some of this data:

  • Executives spend 40-50% (23hrs) of their working hours per week in meetings
  • 90% of meeting attendees admit to daydreaming in them
  • 73% acknowledge they do other work during meetings
  • 25% of meetings are spent discussing irrelevant issues

(Source: https://ideas.ted.com/the-economic-impact-of-bad-meetings/)

 

“Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything”. John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist and Diplomat.

 

The tragic thing is that meetings should really be the heartbeat of your organisation when done right! 

When Scaling Up a business we work with you to imbed the Rockefeller Habits. The third Habit is all about your meeting rhythm and the subsequent flow of communication throughout your business. At the heart of your team’s performance should be a rhythm of well-run daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings. These meetings bring focus and alignment and provide an opportunity to solve problems more quickly. It also addresses the number 1 challenge people face when they work together – communication.

Don’t be scared off by this list of meetings, in our experience this rhythm shouldn’t require more than 10% of a standard workweek for your senior leadership, 5-7% for your middle managers and 3% for your frontline staff. More frequent meetings also makes it easier to attain goals. The daily, weekly and monthly meetings are critical to drive the deliverables outlined in the less frequent meetings. Each meeting builds upon the next. Plus, teams need regular face to face huddles to discuss new opportunities, strategic concerns and bottlenecks as they arise. If you don’t have these ongoing conversations, when you do get together for the annual meeting, you are going to waste a lot of time getting on the same page as each other.

There are two consistent arguments we hear for not meeting regularly, especially for the daily meeting:

we don’t have time

Limited Time

With regard to the issue of time, if you follow our agenda it is all about you saving time. With everyone together in the daily meeting things get communicated quickly, accurately and once only. Unlike with hallway conversations where you may have to have the same conversation multiple times. There’s no vagueness about when you will get an answer or requirement to spend time tracking people down, you know you can get their input at the next planned meeting.

 

... and the other argument

 

we see each other all day anyway.

Peer Pressure

As a leader you also gain advantages from having tightly focussed team discussion in meetings. Casual encounters or one on one meetings don’t take advantage of three of the most powerful tools you have as a leader in achieving great team performance:

  • Peer pressure
  • Collective intelligence
  • Clear communication

Meeting as a group takes the heat off you as a leader and creates peer pressure that increases the team’s output. Doesn’t it seem a great waste to have a brains trust sitting within your business that doesn’t take 15 min each day or an hour a week to focus its collective intelligence on the current opportunities or issues? Holding a team meeting also means that everyone is hearing the exact same information.

The Meeting Rhythm

Meeting Rhythm

Here's a summary of the meetings that we have seen drive alignment and communication through successful businesses. The rhythm of the meetings has been designed to support cascading communication around priorities and business metrics. It is all about alignment and as the late, great Stephen Covey said “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing”.

Meeting Duration Purpose
Daily huddle 5-15 min Discuss tactical issues & provide updates
Weekly meeting 60-90 min Review progress on the quarterly priorities & use collective wisdom to address 1 or 2 main topics
Monthly management meeting 4-8 hrs All senior, middle & frontline managers come together to learn & collaboratively address 1 or 2 big issues. Transfer DNA from upper to middle management
Quarterly & annual planning meetings 1-3 day offsite Update the Growth Tools & establish the next annual or quarterly theme.
How to make your Daily Huddle hustle

Daily Huddle Hustle

Even though the daily huddle is really powerful, it’s the one, as mentioned before, that we get the most pushback on. That’s understandable, if you are going to commit and defend a space in your diary every day you want it to be worthwhile.

So why do some companies fail at their daily huddles?

In a word, generalities! The most powerful part of this process is the connections that our brains make when we hear specifics – names, numbers, dates, issues and concerns. Don’t let the meeting become vague, the details don’t take much extra time and the value they add to the connections you make is significant.

Timing

 Try starting the meeting at an odd time like 9.06 or 4.16 – people will be more likely to be on time. It also signals that every single minute counts. Always start the meeting on time whether everyone is there or not. You don’t have a lot of time to waste so you need to set that tone from the start. Similarly, it’s important to end on time, even if the agenda isn’t complete. Team members will learn to get to the point and will move on faster over time. If it runs over 15 minutes you run the risk of people dropping the habit.

Setting

It doesn’t matter where you meet but make sure you are standing or just perching on stools. It helps to keep the meeting short. If you have some people dialling in regularly we recommend that everyone dials in via conference call. There’s nothing worse than having a few people huddling around a speaker phone every day. On that note, we’d recommend against videoconferencing as it adds a layer of technical complexity that you don’t need on a daily basis.

Who attends

Our general rule is to have more people in fewer meetings, rather than fewer people in more meetings. That’s true if only 10-15 participants do most of the sharing.

Who runs the meeting

Pick someone who is naturally structured and disciplined to keep meetings running on time. Don’t make the mistake of sharing this responsibility around to be democratic, running a good meeting is a skill in itself. The person running the meeting ensures that no one part of the agenda overtakes the meeting and also asks people to ‘take it offline’ when there is something that doesn’t require everyone’s attention.

The agenda:
1. What’s up (in the next 24 hours).

Each attendee shares very specifically what’s up in the next 24 hours. This allows people to detect conflicts, crossed agendas and missed opportunities immediately.

2. What are the daily metrics?

Verbalise the daily metrics that the company monitors. You’re looking for patterns and trends and if you do this daily you’ll be right on top of spotting when that change occurs.

3. Where are you stuck or constrained?

This is the most important item on the agenda. Firstly, there’s something powerful in simply verbalising, for everyone to hear, your fears, struggles and concerns. It’s the first step in solving the problems. Secondly, you want to focus your whole team’s energy on breaking through constraints. Watch out for those people who go a few days without sharing a constraint, odds are there are some bigger problems lurking. The only people who don’t get stuck are those who aren’t doing anything, or just don’t know they are stuck!

KEEP SCALING!
SO WHAT MIGHT YOU DO NOW?

SCALING UP BUSINESS GROWTH WORKSHOP

If you are interested in further exploring how to leverage simple, actionable, and practical tools to help you Scale Up why not come along to the Scaling Up Business Growth Workshop we are running in conjunction with our partner SWAAB on Tuesday 19th, March, 2019. Would highly recommend bringing along members of the Leadership Team to work together on your plan to Scale Up.

Hurry!! At time of going 'to press' 50% early bird was ending in 12 days - Dec 31st!

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SCALING UP QUICK START GUIDE

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Reference

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it...and Why the Rest Don't

Verne Harnish

 

IMAGES SOURCED FROM WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

 

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