This week in our own Weekly Adjustment Meeting, our consultants were discussing one of our clients that was having a hard time using Rhythm effectively in their weekly meetings. I realized that the tool by itself doesn’t make the meeting effective – how the team uses it does. And, the facilitator is the one accountable for ensuring that the team uses the time in a productive way. You can’t just let the team sit back in their chairs, checking email, while you click into every square on your EnergyMap and read comments out loud to the group. This is just as much a status meeting as the traditional model where everyone presents for ten minutes while nobody listens. As the facilitator (or facilitators, if you rotate this responsibility like we do), you can use some specific questions and strategies to ensure that the time your team spends together weekly is for making adjustments, not for boring, non-productive status updates.
Here are some questions that can help you to drive the right conversations so that your meetings truly are focused on solutions and not status:
- For a SuperGreen status:
- How might this victory help others who aren’t hitting their target on this KPI or Priority?
- Do you have any insights to share about how you were able to achieve (or forecast that you will achieve) your stretch goal?
- What are you learning that is accelerating your work on that?
- For a Yellow status:
- We all read the comments and understand why you’ve statused yellow (ah-hem… hint, hint…. You are commenting on Reds and Yellows ahead of time, right?) What can the team do to support you in getting this back on track?
- Do you need help/ideas from the team at this point, or are you simply letting us know that you’ve hit a bump in the road that you can likely solve on your own? (This will help you focus your time on having the most important discussions.)
- Can we think differently about the roadblocks that you’ve encountered?
- Has anyone had a similar problem that you were able to overcome?
- What other people, departments or resources can we deploy here to move the needle?
- For a Red status:
- Let’s get to the root cause of the problem. Why is this red? (And, keep asking why until you get to the heart of the issue. Notice, the question isn’t what happened, it’s what is the cause.)
- Do we need to help you re-prioritize so that you can focus completely on this priority or KPI? Do you need more resources or more time? Is the problem or roadblock something we’ve run into before?
- What happens if we finish red for the quarter? What else does this impact?
- Is there an expert who can help us?
- What is plan B if we can’t get this back on track?
It is also key to look for patterns in your dashboards and use those to drive the conversation:
- I see that this priority has been red for 6 weeks, but you don’t seem all that concerned about it. Did we miss the mark in planning? Is this unimportant, or should we be focusing more energy trying to get this back on track?
- This KPI is consistently yellow or red; it has been for the last few quarters. Do we have the wrong success criteria here? Are we aiming too high? Is it not the right indicator to measure? Or, if it is the right indicator and the success criteria are correct, what priorities do we need to link here to get this moving in the right direction? How can we take action on this?
- We still haven’t started this priority, and it is over halfway through the quarter. Have we dropped the ball? Are we still on track to accomplish this? We either need an action plan to start working on it now or we might need to consider putting it in our parking lot to tackle next quarter.
- We know that our Sales numbers usually take a hit in the beginning of the quarter while our reps are working hard to build up the pipeline, and it looks like we’re staying true to that pattern. We also know that we usually rebound around week 5, so let’s plan to dig deeper on this KPI at that time if we’re still not back to green.
- I’m noticing that we keep veering off into conversations that are really important that don’t relate to our plan. It seems like we might have missed a priority during our quarterly planning this time. Is there something important we need to add to our dashboard?
As you facilitate, it is good to be aware that you only have a certain amount of time for your meeting. Your adjustment meeting will quickly slip into a status meeting if you attempt to dig into 20 red or yellow status items and plow through all of them. Focus is just as important here as it is in determining your plan for the quarter. The facilitator needs to spend some time prior to the meeting reviewing all the status updates and determining if there is enough time in the agenda to address each red and yellow status. If there isn’t, you need to agree with your team upfront about which conversations need to happen today, this week. It is a far better use of your meeting time to dig in deep and really try to solve two or three problems than to just run down the list.
For the Red or Yellow priorities that you are digging deeper into, you can use the questions above or you can implement some brainstorming strategies to get the team really engaged in thinking about the problem. Some techniques might be Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats or just having the team make a list of 20 ideas (no matter how crazy) to get back on track. Everyone on the team should come to the meeting prepared to work on problems, having already read the status updates, so engage those brains around the room to do some real work. This is the only way to prevent the dreaded boring status meeting from taking over the time for your team’s weekly adjustment meeting - the most powerful tool you have to achieve breakthrough execution on your quarterly goals.
Additional Rhythm Systems Meeting Resources:
Consider using Rhythm Software to run your weekly meeting, where the status and agenda are automatically created every week to keep you on track!