By Dania Dunlap-Hurden
Meetings. The word is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most employees. It evokes wasted time, wasted money, and, above all, wasted energy. They’re slow, pointless, and most of them could be accomplished via email, right?
Meetings don’t have to be a soul-sucking time waste. If you structure your meetings with an eye toward efficiency, they can not only be faster, but tremendously helpful in creating and maintaining momentum.
Implementing a structured meeting schedule on a company-wide level and a department level directs attention where it is most needed. It helps everyone stay laser focused on high-value activities by prioritizing the “musts” and the “nice-to-haves.”
Meeting Formats that Work
There are three types of meetings you should start holding— yes, just three.
In an ideal world, the entire company would be involved in Annual Planning. However, reality doesn’t always allow for this. If you can’t rally all the forces, at least get the entire leadership team together for a couple of days to review the previous year’s priorities and results, and to establish long-term goals for the upcoming year.
Once your company goals are established, select 3-5 priorities or “rocks” to focus on for the first quarter, and establish accountability and success measurements for each rock. A rock can be something as simple as, “Increase blogging to 1x/week and create a robust blog subscription option” as a means to increase leads.
This meeting should also include budget planning for the year; determine which high value marketing tools and activities require budget allocation and define how your marketing dollars are best spent. If you set aside the budget to make your marketing goals a reality, you won’t have to make tough decisions about what stays and what goes later in the year.
As the name suggests, the quarterly alignment occurs once every three months. Plan a one-day meeting with your leadership team where you review results from the last 90 days and establish priorities for the next 90 days. Revisit the goals set at the annual meeting, and determine what the upcoming quarter’s rocks need to be.
For example, if your annual goal is to increase leads by 10% and you’re getting good results from your blogging efforts, perhaps it’s time to create more in-depth content, such as an ebook offer. Make it your goal to offer two long-form content pieces in addition to your continued blogging efforts. This is also the time to identify, discuss and solve important issues that are standing in the way of achieving company goals.
Monthly Issues-Solving Meetings
Minimally, the leadership team should plan a monthly 90-minute meeting to review performance and – you guessed it – solve key issues. (Some companies find success doing weekly or bi-weekly Issues-Solving Meetings.) KPI’s are reviewed and each rock owner reports on the status of their rock.
Now’s the time to address any issues that have might have developed since the previous meeting. Identify, discuss, and solve issues, while empowering department heads to manage and coordinate with their own teams on the details. With this regular, dedicated time for dealing with issues, efficiency is improved and “fire drills” are minimized.
Structure Meetings For Success
Ready to make your meetings more useful? Here’s a simple tool to help you get started. The Level 10 meeting agenda format from the Entrepreneurial Operating System is an excellent blueprint. Not only does the meeting format help you maintain meeting focus, but it also includes a Meeting Rating section at the end, which will helps teams stay accountable.
When you follow a regular structured meeting agenda, your team will know what to expect in each meeting, and you’ll be able to keep discussion focused on your top priorities. By keeping your meetings focused on SOLVING issues instead of discussing them to death, your team will become a lean, mean, efficient-problem-solving machine.