Blue Jean Networks Blog

Musings of Sunny Lowe on a variety of business and technology challenges and solutions.

8 Tips to a Great Company Meeting

Company meetings are a real pain for some. They last too long, take too much time, waste resources and more. Have you ever been in a meeting and calculated the cost of the meeting? Add up the bill rates around the room, and you will get a real shocker. Your meeting time is REALLY EXPENSIVE, and so should not be wasted, but almost always is.

 

Poorly run companies have terrible meetings. Great companies have great meetings. It is your job to make the meeting great! A great meeting should be as fun as going to the movies. Relevant information is discussed, it is argued by your staff, and then you settle on your strategy for execution.  At the end of the meeting, you should be energized, not sapped of your strength.

 

The following steps have been proven in many companies all over the world. Use these and make a difference in your meetings!

 

1. Have the meeting at the same time each week.

Meetings are about company rhythms. They are the heartbeat of the meeting. They must happen each week, at the same time.

2. Start and Stop the Meetings on Time

You waste all your people's time if some people are there and some are not. Do not waste your teams time. Show them the same respect you would like.

 

3. Have a Set Agenda

Most people struggle with meeting agendas. They either don't have them ready, and wing it, or they over complicate the issue, and spend the time reading to their team.  Here is a simple agenda which can be done every week. These are from the gurus at EOS (www.eosworldwide.com) .

  1. 5 Minutes of Good news from each person. Get everyone talking. Break the Ice.
  2. 5 minutes of Company Metrics (read the numbers, don't go into them. If there is an issue add it to the issues list below)
  3. 5 minutes of Quarterly Goal review. (On Track, Behind, Completed)
  4. 5 Minutes of Customer/Employee Headlines
  5. 5 Minutes reviewing last week's To Do list. (complete, not complete. Excuses, reasons, bellyaching goes on the issues list below.)
  6. 60 Minutes of Issues Solving. We use the IDS method from EOS. I=Investigate to discover the real reason behind the issue. This is the core reason. Use tools like "5 Whys" to discover the root cause. D=Discuss. This means discuss ways of solving the issue so that it will never happen again.  S=Solve. Choose one of the methods discussed and solve the issue by building a task or goal which will have a person assigned to own it, a date, and a way to know if it is completed. IDS.
  7. 5 Minutes of Conclusion. Recap the to-do list for next week. Decide how the information generated in the meeting will be spread throughout the company so all people will find out at relatively the same time, and lastly, rate the meeting from 1-10 on whether it got started and stopped on time, happened when it was scheduled, followed the agenda.

 

4. Make your Meetings Pizza Sized

Your teams have to be big enough to have a meeting (3 people is my minimum) but small enough to get everyone involved. The classic advice given by Jeff Bezos is the Two Pizza rule. Any time it takes more than 2 pizza's to feed the team, the team is too big.

 

5. Build Conflict in your Meetings

Conflict? You gotta be crazy!  Yet conflict is the best sense that you have great trust in your team, and the real goal is trust in your team. Without trust, your teammates will not work with you to ferret out the issues and discover the best ways to solve them. They will just keep silent, and not speak about what to do. This will doom your company, so seek this, with as much vulnerability as you can. This is the best way to excellence, and the only way to get people to tell you why a good idea may fail. Knowing what will make it fail will help you avoid that pitfall and ensure its success.

 

6. Don't let People stay Quiet

Silence is not agreement. It is silence. Generate the agreement you need by insisting each person speak their piece about the idea. When their ideas are spoken and considered they are much more likely to get behind a different idea, even if it is not theirs. They understand that their idea has been fleshed out, that no idea is perfect, and we have to choose one to do. Get them speaking.

 

7. Ask Each Person to Commit to the Direction

No one gets to have their idea chosen every time. Get a verbal commitment from each person that they will follow and support the chosen idea. Make sure they know that if the idea does not work, we will be back to the drawing board next week, and their idea might be chosen at that time. When it is, they, too, will want the backing of the others then, so support this idea now.

 

8. Establish a Meeting Rhythm outside the Weekly or Monthly Meetings

You will need a rhythm that includes Annual Planning, Quarterly Planning, Weekly execution, and possibly Daily huddles. Set these rhythms up and do them religiously. It is amazing how much more work will get done when people can just say, "Let's discuss that at the weekly meeting. Put it on the issues list". Soon, tons of time is released for work when good direction, goals, and execution are happening. All of a sudden profits will be up and efficiency will increase, as well.

 

Meetings like this are the heart-blood of every great company. If you want to be great, act like the great ones and have great meetings.

For more resources on this topic, look at www.eosworldwide.com and read "Death by Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni. 

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