In your next weekly team meeting, take a moment to look around. What are you seeing? Are your team members engaged—are they looking at each other, leaning forward, nodding, and exchanging ideas? Or, are they staring at their computer/phone or leaning back with arms crossed and eyes glazed? If you are on a virtual meeting platform, have everyone turn on their webcam so you can observe the non-verbals. However, you might not even need to do this to know that people aren’t really “there.” It is usually pretty obvious when everyone has muted their line and proceeded to work on something else, daydream, or run errands during your meeting.
Rhythm Blog | Effective Meetings
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
I have to admit that I am a data geek. I do know that I have a unique personality type and most people aren’t interested in digging deep into the numbers and want to jump off a bridge anytime that you mention a pivot table. The great thing is that you don’t need to be a nerd in order to increase your team and company performance with KPI dashboards. In fact, you’ll get better performance if you adjust your thinking to answering the question: What is driving the numbers? Instead of putting all of your energy on what the numbers are, start to focus on the story behind the numbers. This is where you will get true insight and help transform your weekly meetings into the most productive time of your week.
Sounds like a simple concept: Alignment. What makes this so hard to achieve? The fact is, if you are hiring the right people, you will have a lot of smart people on your team who disagree with each other. This is a good thing. Alignment doesn’t mean that everyone starts on the same page; if that were true, then you’d just have a bunch of robots running around who all think the same way and who never challenge your ideas or come up with anything creative, interesting, or groundbreaking.
Difference of opinion among your team members is a key ingredient in developing the right strategies for your team, the ones that have been analyzed from different angles and debated in your planning sessions. However, when the dust settles and the decision has been made, this is where alignment takes over from diversity of viewpoints as the key to your strategy’s success or failure.
Are your meetings the butt of work-related jokes? Why is it that we roll our eyes with disdain when our calendar is loaded with meetings, and more specifically, why do we dread the planning meetings that are so important to our strategic success? Let me ask, have you used senior team members as facilitators? If so, you’ve very likely chosen the wrong facilitator. Save yourself a bad decision before your next planning session. Don’t choose your CEO or an executive team member for strategic planning facilitation. If you do, you’ll pay for it all year (or quarter) based on the plan developed and the pain to get there.
I hear time and time again from people that their meetings are a complete waste of time. In fact, they can often be a huge productivity killer. When I dig deeper, I can easily find out why. They typically don’t accomplish anything - the team gets together, but they don’t work on solving the problems facing the company. Team members often update the status of their pet projects, highlighting their accomplishments and glossing over the challenges. Many people get the feeling of Groundhog Day as they talk about the same topics time after time and never make any progress on the real, pressing issues facing the company. However, they don’t get the comedic genius of the great Bill Murray to keep them entertained during their problem solving meeting. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a better way to run meetings.
Executive Weekly Meeting Team Size
For the most effective weekly team meeting, your executive team should consist of 8-10 people. If your group is too large, consider who truly should be part of the executive team meeting. Perhaps some people should participate at the departmental team-level weekly meeting only.
Executive Meeting Framework
Also, the executive team should be using your Quarterly Plan as the framework for the meeting. The plan should consist of 3-5 Company Priorities and 3-5 Personal Priorities each. Owners of those Priorities should have statused them Red, Yellow or Green prior to the Weekly Meeting.
Weekly staff meetings are often a huge waste of time and money. Too often, they are just boring status updates that could have been better solved by sending out an email. People have gotten into a rut and just don’t think that there is anything they can do to fix their meetings and they have given up hope. You can change your weekly staff meetings quickly and easily following the four simple steps outlined below. Putting in the effort is well worth the reward of being able to solve problems each and every week in a fun environment that you actually look forward to attending. Just imagine how much better your company’s results would be if every department solved one of its biggest challenges each and every week!
At Rhythm Systems, we have been fixing weekly staff meetings for more than a decade with our unique methodology and patented strategy execution software to focus your most important resources on the most important projects. It isn’t all that difficult once you have a clear execution-ready quarterly plan in place. Once you have you have a clear quarterly plan, aligned with your annual plan, you have the basis for your weekly meeting agenda. If you aren’t connecting your strategic planning with your execution, of which your weekly staff meeting is the cornerstone, you aren’t having the right discussions to move your strategy forward to achieve your BHAG.
There are 11 million meetings in the United States alone every work day. Up to 50% of the time in those meetings is wasted, and that’s probably a conservative estimate, and costs about $37 billion per year in lost productivity in the United States alone. The real question is how much this is costing you and your organization by not fixing your weekly staff meeting?
Here at Rhythm Systems, we are very blessed to have almost 10,000 blog subscribers, 10+ regular contributors, and many amazing readers who comment on our posts (both online and in-person when we are lucky enough to see them). We started blogging back in 2011 before it seemed like everyone and their mother had a blog, and we’ve learned an awful lot and put a ton of time into delivering great content to you, our readers, over the last seven years. In fact, we recently tallied up the hours our team spends on creating, editing, optimizing, and publishing content for this blog, and it was about 385 hours in 2018. We appreciate all of you who read and enjoy the fruits of our hard work.
The struggle is real. We’ve all been in meetings about our metrics that produce seemingly endless discussion about the numbers, with no real actions, outcomes or impact on results. CEOs list this as one of their top frustrations – all-talk-and-no-action meetings regarding their Key Performance Indicators.
So, how do you avoid the marathon hamster wheel and have an effective KPI discussion in your weekly team meeting? Teams who are really good at this have two things in common: a properly set up KPI dashboard and a great facilitator. Here are some patterns regarding both: