The Power of Meetings

So what's the big deal with meetings anyway? You meet with your subcontractor/carpenter to start a new project. Depending on the size of your company, you also meet with your office manager, sales people, production manager and possibly your staff accountant, marketing manager or even your general manager.

August 31, 2006

 

So what's the big deal with meetings anyway? You meet with your subcontractor/carpenter to start a new project. Depending on the size of your company, you also meet with your office manager, sales people, production manager and possibly your staff accountant, marketing manager or even your general manager.

You and I have meetings all the time, both informal and formal. When we are in business with little experience, meetings tend to be more informal and reactive to what's going on in your business. The goal as we grow in business is to be more proactive and to set up formal meetings with agendas and a strategy to reduce the need for the reactive, and often, less productive meetings.

How often should you have a meeting? It depends on the intended purpose. At our company, we have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings.

With our daily meeting, we cover critical numbers, reinforce our culture, report on what good is happening and address challenges. Typically it is a 10 minute standing meeting. Not all companies need a daily meeting, but they are highly effective and create a great team atmosphere.

Weekly meetings should be a minimum standard for all companies to reinforce company direction and goals, tracking and accountability for projects and sales being moved forward, proactively build your company culture and for training to keep your team growing. It is critical to have planned and structured meetings if you are going to free yourself from the business and produce the best results. If done well, you will greatly increase the effectiveness of your team.

Monthly meetings are designed to review results compared to budget. We adopted the open-book management style early on sharing financial numbers of the company, and it has proven highly effective. These meetings are also utilized for training and group problem solving.

Quarterly meetings are highly effective for planning and brainstorming about the company's future needs. I recommend a minimum of once a year, taking half a day (or more) to do team building exercises. If facilitated correctly, this can give your team insight on how to better work together. An additional benefit is that it sends a message to your team that you care about them and that you're not just all business. Look at hiring an outside facilitator from a local college, consultant or perhaps someone at a club or church you belong to that would volunteer to help with a team building exercise.

The annual meeting's primary purpose is to plan for the New Year, i.e., the business plan and budgeting.

These descriptions are not meant to be an exhaustive list of how, why and when to have proactive, formally planned meetings, but they are more than enough for a good start. The point is to develop a structure, define a frequency and be consistent so that your team has something to depend on. It's not about having meetings, it's about producing the greatest results with the resources you have.

I can remember many years ago when I had mainly reactive meetings versus planned, proactive meetings. (In reactive meetings, what you get is a lot of duplicated effort, waste and a culture of chaos.) One example: I would have the same conversation with two or three people at different times and would think I was doing well. At times it was better than not having meetings at all, but it is much more effective and efficient to meet at the same time. It creates synergy, group genius (several minds are better than one), builds a team, cuts down on follow-up meetings and saves everyone time.

With more frequent meetings and a proper structure, you can predict and identify problems quickly so they can be solved earlier and with much less expense. The problem could be a misunderstanding; a system that's not working or is needed; or that someone is thinking about quitting. There is more to the power of meetings than first meets the eye. If you haven't started, then get started. Or, if you are already having these types of meetings, ask yourself how can you take them to the next level.


Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at doug.dwyer@dwyergroup.com.


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