If you ask team members in most organisations how they feel about meetings, you will likely receive a negative response—
“They are a waste of time,”
“We spend so much time in meetings we don’t have enough time to do our jobs,”
“We see each other all the time all day anyway why do we need to meet?”
or some other similarly dismissive retort.
But meetings don’t have to be this way.
If you establish a set meeting rhythm where each meeting that is necessary to drive business performance is pre-scheduled with an established agenda you will actually save time and make them worthwhile.
What You Risk with No Meeting Rhythm
When a leader gets the team together, there are three powerful tools at their disposal:
- Peer pressure
- Collective intelligence
- Clear communication
Casual encounters don’t offer the same environment and teamwork possibilities.
In addition, when you hold regular meetings, everyone is hearing the same thing at the same time.
This is a much more efficient use of everyone’s time especially for the person who has the responsibility to communicate info to others.
There’s no idle chit-chat warming up to the topic for every person who needs to be updated.
Meetings allow the information to flow efficiently and for everyone to hear the exact same words and delivery as well as benefit from the same follow-up questions.
Effective Meeting Rhythms
While there will be other meetings necessary within an organisation (meetings with clients, investors and vendors are some that come to mind), the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly rhythm of meetings recommended in Verne Harnish’s book
Scaling Up: Why a Few Companies Make it… and Why the Rest Don’t are all that you need to manage the business.
Rather than be a time waster, if executed properly, these meetings will save time for your organisation.
Your rhythm of regular meetings shouldn’t require more than 10% of a standard 40-, 50- or 60-hour workweek for the senior leadership, 5-7% for middle managers and 3% for frontline staff.
Here are the key meetings that should be set into your schedule:
All employees are in a daily huddle that lasts less than 15 minutes.
All teams have a weekly meeting.
The executive and middle managers meet for a day of learning, resolving big issues, and DNA transfer each month.
Quarterly and annually, the executive and middle managers meet offsite to work on the 4 Decisions – People, Strategy, Execution and Cash.
The Daily Huddle is a 5-to-15-minute meeting to discuss tactical issues, provide updates on daily metrics and to identify where people are stuck. It will help you avoid minor train wrecks and to take quick advantage of unforeseen opportunities. Normally, a Daily Huddle saves everyone an hour or so of needless email updates and ad hoc interruptions. Issues that emerge drive the main topics for the weekly meeting.
A 60-90 minute discussion to review progress on the quarterly priorities and address one or two main topics.
Weekly Strategy Council
- The weekly council is focused on the following
- Provide council to the CEO
- Review progress on the quarterly priorities
- Tap the collective brainpower of a select team to address one or two main topics
- Discuss market intelligence
- This meeting will typically last 60 to 90 minutes.
The monthly meetings should focus on one or two big issues that were identified in the daily huddle or weekly council and that require several hours of effort to tackle. This meeting also facilitates the transfer of DNA (knowledge, values, approach) from upper to middle management. This should not be a meeting of mind-numbing reports but rather one focused on learning, sharing and problem-solving.
Quarterly and Annual Planning Sessions
The main goal for these one- to three-day offsite planning sessions is to work through and update the Growth Tools. They provide the questions, focus and agenda for these quarterly and annual planning sessions.
Keep in mind that the more frequent daily and weekly meetings draw context and continuity from the more strategic planning sessions.
Therefore, the annual meeting sets the strategic direction and priorities for the year and beyond. Then, the quarterly gatherings break down these longer-term priorities into bite-sized goals that the company can digest.
The monthly meetings address the bigger issues or opportunities that surface around the strategic direction; the weekly keeps the priorities top-of-mind and drives discussions around input from customers, employees, and competitors which feeds back into the quarterly and annual planning processes; and the daily huddle tracks progress and brings out sticking points that are blocking execution of the strategic direction.
The No. 1 challenge people face when they work together is communication and the No. 1 roadblock to effective meetings is generalities.
Companies who follow a pre-set meeting rhythm with set agendas are the ones that go from good to great performance.