Why Growing Companies Need More Meetings
In an earlier post I briefly touched on the importance of meetings in growing companies. I realize that meetings are a hot button in most organizations. But I want to provide you with the antidote to those unproductive wastes of time that we’ve all had to suffer through.
More Meetings, Not Fewer
The faster a business is growing the more meetings are needed. But there’s a lot of resistance to meetings because most people are thinking of those mind-numbing, pointless interruptions that take up huge chunks of your time.
“We already have too many meetings.” “We don’t need meetings, we see each other all the time.” “I’ve got too much work to go to another meeting,” all are common reactions to the idea of more meetings.
The solution is not to stop having meetings. The solution is to make meetings better.
Meetings should not be boring, ineffective, wastes of time. Productive, structured, and well-defined meetings actually save time.
Most executives spend hours sending email, leaving voice mail, and having hallway conversations to clarify and resolve issues that should have been clarified and resolved in a meeting in the first place. But no one counts this time the way they do when they add up time spent in meetings.
Two Big Reasons Meetings Are Ineffective
One of the biggest reasons meetings are ineffective is because they lack open, honest, and candid conversations that get people engaged. It’s both natural and productive for disagreement and debate to occur. Resolving important things is what makes a meeting productive. Avoiding the issues that warrant debate and disagreement guarantees that the issues are not going to get resolved.
The second reason meetings are ineffective is because most meetings lack context and the proper structure. Some people need quick decisions made. Others have tactical issues that need to be addressed. Others have strategic issues that require more time, thought, and analysis. Organizations need multiple types of meetings that have different purposes and structures.
Four Different Meetings
Fast-growth companies need a powerful set of well-run meetings. Why? Because you can’t expect to meet the organization’s annual goals if you aren’t dealing with the issues impacting those goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Leadership teams need regular, face-to-face, meetings to discuss daily activities, tactical issues, strategic concerns, and bottlenecks as they arise.
Daily – Every single person in a growing company should be in some type of very brief meeting every day. Everyone. The senior team should meet daily and so should each department. These meetings are 5 to 10 minutes long. No more. Everyone stands and gives a brief update about progress towards goals and identifies barriers blocking that progress. This is a not problem-solving meeting. The purpose is to inform people, keep everyone on track, and to ensure that nothing is falling through the cracks.
Weekly –The weekly meeting is tactical in nature and never lasts more than 1 hour. Everyone gives a brief update and then the agenda is set. Setting the agenda in real time ensures that the meeting will be relevant and effective. You want your team to regularly address tactical issues to ensure that short-term goals are not threatened. The purpose of this meeting is to resolve tactical issues and reinforce alignment.
Monthly – Monthly meetings are strategic and necessarily longer – up to 4 hours. These meetings are where strategic issues that come up in the weekly meetings are addressed. In this meeting the team discusses, analyzes, debates, and decides on one or two key issues that impact the long-term success of the business. Allowing more than two issues into a monthly meeting guarantees that no issue will receive the attention it deserves.
Quarterly – Quarterly meetings should be away from the office and last 1 or 2 days. A quarterly meeting deals with big picture issues affecting the entire organization. This is a time to step back and look at the business as a whole. Topics that might be discussed include: strategy, competition, industry trends, people development, and culture.
For leaders of growing businesses, improving meetings is one of the best ways to tangibly impact the performance of their companies.
Are your meetings ineffective and wasting time?