For many companies, the idea of the monthly management meeting can feel like a burden in an already overly scheduled calendar. Why is this meeting, in the midst of so many other meetings, important?
This monthly leadership meeting with employees is your key to building the team, learning together, solving problems, working on specific issues, and reinforcing your company’s culture, initiatives and goals.
If you think about it, how could your time be better spent than on fostering relationships, developing skills and knowledge, and passing on the company culture to the people who are managing your workforce? A Forbes article I recently read sites a Gallup poll that reported that only 30% of workers are fully engaged; this is not surprising when you learn that only 36% of managers are engaged! If the leaders in your company aren’t passionate about your purpose and clear about your objectives, you can bet that they are not inspiring their direct reports to be fully engaged at work, and they are probably doing a poor job cascading the strategic vision and execution plans that your executive team has worked so hard to develop.
Hopefully, you are convinced that it is worth the investment of time to bring your managers together for this monthly meeting to drive alignment and engagement. Now, you may be wondering, what do we do with the time together?
Here are some ideas for how to structure your Monthly Leadership Meetings:
- Schedule them for the whole year in advance (along with all of your quarterly planning sessions for the year). You might have them at the same day and time to make it easier on your team to get in the rhythm. For example, every third Thursday from 9-1 is always your Monthly Meeting. Communicate this during your yearly meeting so that everyone has it on their calendar.
- Take time to share good news and victories in the beginning. It is a best practice to begin with some kind of check in around the room to get everyone engaged and talking in the meeting, and this is usually more fun if you’re focusing on something positive. Your monthly meeting is a perfect time for celebrating as a team. You can mix it up and have everyone share a “brag” about someone else. We usually share one victory and one thing we’re thankful for to kick off our monthly meetings.
- Include a company update. This may be the entire agenda of the meeting if your Monthly Meeting is primarily to share the new plan for the quarter with managers and help them come up with a plan to roll it out to their teams and get everyone engaged with the 13-Week Race for the company. If it is the middle of the quarter, your company update time might be a quick look at the dashboards to see how your plan execution is coming along so far. If you are trying to develop more financial intelligence in your team, you might spend some time focusing on your cashflow runway or waterfall charts of products or customers to provide some finance education to your managers. You might include a short time for updates from different departments, like marketing, operations, or sales, so that managers in various departments know what’s happening in the company as a whole and aren’t working in silos. A performance review will let the entire team know how the company is performing and how they are contributing to its success.
- After the company update, the agenda typically varies. You might choose to either have a specific learning or training session for the team, or you might decide to work on solving a particular problem together. If you aren’t sure what to work on, here are some ideas for your monthly team meeting:
- Is there a part of your plan where your team is stuck? Not enough sales leads in the pipeline, not hitting your forecasted launch date on a big project, running too much overtime in the plants? Maybe you spend an hour having all of the managers just brainstorm 20 ways to solve the problem. You don’t necessarily have to solve the problem in the meeting, but this gets your team thinking creatively and working together and gives you a chance to tap into their collective intelligence.
- Are you getting feedback from customers or employees that need to be addressed? Maybe you’ve had a lot of complaints or ideas for improvement about a particular process, product or practice that you could talk about as a group.
- Are there specific areas where your managers are struggling? Could you offer some training or leadership development in those areas? You can bring in an outside facilitator to teach specific skills like effective communication, delegation, accountability, etc.
- Are there changes in your organization or industry that will be important for your managers to understand? If your company is impacted by changing regulations or is making big changes internally, this would be a good time to bring everyone up to speed about the changes and how they will impact the company as a whole and your individual team members. You want the managers to feel empowered to help their teams through any transitions, so it is key to spend time making sure they feel comfortable with what’s changing.
- Do your managers understand and connect with the core elements of your strategy? You might need to use some of this time to bring your BHAG to life for your managers and help ignite passion and excitement for your long-term strategy. Or, you can have a contest or award for the person who can share the best Core Values or Core Purpose story.
- Do you need input from the team to make strategic decisions? If you are working on your Brand Promise, you can use this time to gather real data about what your core customer looks like and what they actually need. You can use the time with managers to help you validate your Winning Moves. If they are closer to the front lines and the customers than you are on the executive team, they could have invaluable insights for your strategic thinking time.
- Does your team have difficulty working well together? Do you need to invest some time in building better relationships between managers? Often, managers may feel that they are competing for the same resources and this can cause tension. You might consider going off site to do an activity together to help the team bond; maybe volunteering together would be a good way to bring the team closer. You could also bring in a facilitator to do a personality inventory for your team and help you find ways to work better together and communicate more effectively. This is a great time to increase employee engagement and resolve any issues that arise.
- Finally, wrap up the meeting. To do this effectively, you want to be sure to document any follow up items that came out of the discussion. (In Rhythm software, the best place to record the notes and action items from the meeting in Other Meetings.) You also want to be sure to close by checking in with each person around the room (just like in the beginning of the meeting). We usually do a one-word or one-phrase close, or we close by each sharing a key takeaway from the discussion.
As you can see, there are endless possibilities for what you can do with this monthly meeting with employees to keep aligned, build stronger relationships and communicate in real time. At Rhythm Systems, we invest each month in having our virtual team members travel to our office in Charlotte for this meeting. That’s how important it is for us. As a virtual team, the time when we are all in the same room is precious, and we are able to become a stronger, more focused, more aligned and more effective group because of the time we spend together each month. Personally, I always feel energized and re-engaged after the time we spend together each month. This is how I know it works to drive alignment and engagement!
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Editor's Note: This blog was originally published on November 30, 2016, and has been updated.