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Date: 05/07/2016 | By: Kevin Brent

Meeting Rhythm – How to Keep the Blood Pumping in your Business

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This blog is part of a collection of blogs for business owners on scaling up and building valuable businesses.  The four key pillars for successfully scaling a business are Strategy, People, Execution and Cash.  This blog deals mainly within Execution although it touches on People also by defining and structuring a suitable Meeting Rhythm for your business.

You can listen to Kevin’s webinar linked this blog here

 

We all know that getting the balance right between working in and on your business is critical – but it is not easy.  How do we make sure as business owners that the business keeps on top of the day to day activities as well as the key strategic priorities? 

At the heart of the answer to this dilemma is finding an appropriate meeting Rhythm for your business.  The meeting Rhythm is a concept outlined in Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and the Gazelles

The Heartbeat of any business is the way the people and the teams perform together – this is what keeps the blood pumping in your business.

Structured communication becomes vital the moment there is more than one person in the business

But it is more than that – we need a way to bring focus and alignment as well as ensuring that problems are spotted and solved quickly.

Do you recognise any of the following in your business now:Slide6

  • Interruptions from staff coming to you asking for advice/ solutions/ what to do..
  • Feeling of constant fire-fighting
  • Things getting missed/ information not passed from one person or team to another
  • Targets not being met and not realised until too late
  • Some people seem overworked whilst others not
  • Deadlines missed
  • Feeling that no-one else has the ‘big picture’ in mind
  • Feeling disorganised
  • Peaks and troughs of activity
  • Not everyone clear on the priorities
  • You are getting sucked into the day to day activities and unable to spend the time you’d like planning the future
  • You discover late about customer, competitor or employee issues/ information?

The meeting Rhythm

A key to addressing these is a well structured and well-run  ‘rhythm’ of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly & annual meetings.

But not meetings for meetings sake – and depending on the type of business and the pace of growth, the rhythm will be different

Slide8But hang on a minute you say:

  • Hate meetings
  • Take up too much time/ don’t have time
  • Wouldn’t work in my business
  • Meetings are just an excuse to chat
  • We see each other all day anyway
  • There’s only a few of us!

Have you looked at it this way:=?

  • Probably hate meetings because you’ve had bad experiences in previous orgs
  • Common issues around lack of clear agenda, purpose and expected outcomes
  • Correct meeting rhythm will save time (avoid constant interruptions) – keep issues to the appropriate time-slot
  • Casual encounters do not take advantage of
    • Peer pressure
    • Collective intelligence
    • Clear communication

The Meeting Rhythm – designed to support disseminating information around the key priorities and targets – most important is to schedule/ get in your diary!

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  1. The Daily Huddle
    1. Who – everyone in appropriate groups/ could be by project
    2. How long – 5-10 minutes
    3. What – tactical issues and updates
  2. The Weekly Team Meeting
    1. Who – by team
    2. How long – 60-90 minutes
    3. What – review progress on quarterly priorities and market intelligence
  3. The Monthly Management Meeting
    1. Who – Senior & middle management
    2. How long – half-day for small businesses
    3. What – Review key metrics of the business & collaboratively address one or two key issues.
  4. The Quarterly and Annual Planning Meetings
    1. Who – Leaders plus an update for employees
    2. How long – Full day
    3. What – Update the plan and establish the theme/ focus for the next quarter/ year. Includes an update for all employees

Linking strategy to execution

You should be able to see that these structured meetings enable you to bridge the gap between high level strategic thinking and planning and the day to day implementation – making sure that you and the team have the big picture or the end in mind

  • The annual sets the strategic direction & priorities
  • The quarterly breaks these down into bit-sized priorities
  • The monthly addresses bigger issues or opportunities that arise whilst implementing the strategy
  • The weekly keeps priorities top of mind and ensures discussion around customer, employee and competitors – feed into monthly/ quarterly sessions
  • The daily huddle tracks progress, keeps finger on the pulse & raises/ removes roadblocks

In more detail

The Daily HuddleSlide12

  • The Agenda
    • What’s up today/ focus for the day? – specifics relevant to key activities/ decisions
    • What are your targets/ goals for today?
    • Where are you stuck/ where do you need help
  • Same time every day/ to fit in with the business
  • Same place
  • Standing only – no sitting down
  • Start on time whether everyone present or not
  • Plan 1 minute per person
  • Include remote workers – e.g. google hangouts, conference calls etc
  • Time the meetings/ control & take things ‘offline’ where necessary/ tangents not needing everyone
  • Not – a ramble about what you did yesterday, not a planning meeting, minutes are not required

Slide13The Weekly Meeting

  • Agenda
    • What’s gone well – 5 minutes
    • Progress against key priorities – 10 minutes
    • Feedback from customers & employees – 10 minutes
    • Focus topic – e.g. major event, opportunity or issue – 30 minutes
    • Smart Actions – What, Who, When
    • Key take-away from each member/ one phrase close
  • Minutes/ Actions sheet – What, Who, When By?

The Monthly Management MeetingSlide15

  • Agenda
    • What’s gone well
    • What’s not gone so well
      • Share issues from previous month
    • Progress against quarterly theme/ focus
    • Progress against last month’s key focus for improvement – topic/ process/ issue
    • Progress against key performance indicators & actions where necessary
      • Financial
      • Sales
      • Marketing
      • Operations
      • Team
      • Stability
      • Leadership
    • Identify & work on this month’s key focus for improvement – topic/ process/ issues identified earlier
    • Confirmation of priorities for this month
    • Key take aways – each

The Quarterly & Annual Planning Meetings

These meetings are best addressed separately another day but:

OUTLINE

  • Establish next quarter or annual theme
  • Review business against the 4 key strategic priorities:
    • Strategy
    • People
    • Execution
    • Cash

Similar agenda to monthly from the review perspective

Include an update for all employees – e.g. a 45 minute ‘town hall’ session.

 

Where Meetings go WrongSlide17

  • Meeting ‘Hijacked’
  • Timing
  • Wrong people
  • Not specific enough – especially daily huddle
  • Not ‘action’ focused

The typical solutions for these and other poor meetings come down to defining and implementing a structured agenda.  Each layer of meeting has a different purpose/ aim and it is important to keep it that way – if someone raises broader planning issues in the daily huddle then they should be taken up to the appropriate level of meeting rather than go off on a tangent.

So there you have it – if you want to keep the blood pumping in your business and enable you to have more time to work on the business than in the business – work out a suitable meeting Rhythm for your business and set to work implementing it – and schedule them in the diary

You can listen to Kevin’s webinar linked this blog here

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