In this post, we begin our three-part series on meetings and seek to change your thinking around meetings and show the true value meetings can create. We'll do this by providing some practical guidelines to make your meetings a real value driver in your business not a time and value drain.
In part I, we'll discuss the purpose of small business meetings
In a recent conversation with a new client, I heard the client say, "I hate meetings". Why do business owners have such a disdain for meetings? It's not that many just don't like them, they "hate" them.
To many small business owners, meetings are seen as a time waster where employees complain about problems and drop them at the feet of the owner.
No one wants to constantly hear about problems (especially the entrepreneurial business owner), so owners tend avoid meetings like the plague. Unfortunately, no news is not the same as good news. Unsolved problems build, creating a culture of fire-fighting. Sound familiar?
Meetings should be a proactive activity NOT a reactive one. If you find that ALL your meetings are reactive, it's time to make a change.
Meetings should have a purpose and accomplish something. So what is that something?
Small business meetings are meant to do one or all of the following:
- Remind the team of the company's "why"
- Answer the question, "How are we behaving as we accomplish our goals?"
- Answer the question, "Are we achieving our goals?"
- Solve a specific problem
- Ask the question, "How would we rate this meeting on a scale of 1-10?"
It just so happens that a monthly management meeting should cover all of these topics and have a specific time-frame associated with them.
Remind the team of the company's "why" - 5 minutes
It is important to continually reiterate why your business is in business. What's your business' "why". Why do you get up every morning and do what you do.
I suggest making this discussion part of the monthly meeting and sharing your mission statement as the start of each meeting. You cannot state this enough. Ask for feedback on how the business has been true to it's purpose or even violated the purpose. This ensures that the business stays on track.
Answer the question "How are we behaving as we accomplish our goals?" - 5 minutes
This question seeks to highlight your business' core values. Core values are how you and your employees should behave on a day to day basis.
Many (if not all) internal problems stem from a violation of core values. If you have not defined your core values, they still have them. These values are unspoken and are the foundation of your culture. You communicate them by the way you act and the behavior you reward or allow.
For this reason, you must be intentional about communicating your business' core values. One way to do this is to make this communication part of each meeting. Ask for examples of how the business has stayed true to them OR violated them.
Answer the question "Are we achieving our goals?" - 10-15 minutes
This question assumes one thing, that you have company goals. If you have not defined your company goals, go here for a step by step guide on how to determine them.
Everyone wants to know how they are performing and how their performance supports business performance. Use the meeting time to review the company goals and instill a greater degree of accountability by asking your staff to report their results at each meeting.
Set aside time to solve a specific problem - 45 minutes
I call recurring business problems, fires. Fires are areas of frustration that never get properly solved. Fires waste a ton of time and resources.
Work with your team to create a list of fires and then chose to focus on one at your meeting.
Ask a team member to present a fire to be solved and ask them to bring a proposed solution to the table. Ask your other team members to think about a solution to the problem prior to the meeting so you can have a substantive discussion and really solve the problem. If at all possible, drive the team to come up with a solution during the meeting time. Resist the urge to push the decision off to another time.
Ask the question, "How would you rate this meeting on a scale of 1-10?"
Finally ask each team member to quickly rate the meeting on a scale of 1-10 and ask, what could be done to make it a 10. This is critical feedback that can help you to keep improving your meetings significantly.
If you use this framework for each meeting, your meetings can become a real value driver in your small business.