How often are you too busy to have that meeting? How often do you think, hmmm we should talk about that some more… but don’t? How often do you feel frustrated because you are not heard or have been misunderstood?
Find out why it’s so important to introduce Meeting Rhythms into all businesses, even if there are only 1 or 2 people within the business. How many times have you heard, “why weren’t we told”, “I never heard that”, and “Leadership never tells us anything”. By introducing Meeting Rhythms into your business that have effective and agile Agenda Templates, you will build a communication system that is founded on “having each other’s back” – where topical discussions are held with respect and carefrontation.
Over the years we have learned that no one hears everything you tell them. Some people are visual, some like written, some like to be told explicit details and others just want the “gist” of it. All of us have moments where we don’t have buy-in at first and spend too much of our time trying to discredit what’s being told to us, instead of actively listening and asking open questions to gain further insight. Test it out on your kids, start off by telling them something they want to hear, like let’s get ice cream, then go on to give them 3 or 4 other instructions… I bet you they don’t do them all, they can’t, they weren’t listening properly, they only heard what they wanted to. It works the same with staff (and your partner!), you may have told them something, but they may not have heard.
Setting meeting rhythms is the first step, working out what it will be about, who will attend, when it will occur and how it will be run – this is sometimes the hardest part, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it the right first time, what matters is that you keep on trying.
I was lucky, Bowhill Engineering was already having monthly Board meetings when I started working there. So, unlike some farming families I know, who consider their morning cuppa tea as their “to be all and end all” to meetings, I already had a structure and forum to work with. Now don’t get me wrong, the morning huddle is done extremely well by my farming friends… it’s just that the daily huddle is about the operational – what are my biggest priorities for the day? It’s just as important to have a forum for strategic discussions as well. Too many of us do this informally, this is wrought with danger, a key member of the group may be missing and then feel side-lined by decisions made without them, informal meetings don’t have minutes and if you don’t have minutes, you generally don’t have an agenda. An agenda is the key to talking about what really matters, with consideration, in a timely matter, with all that count included.
Even more important is to write down the outcomes or actions – this is most easily done by WWW – who, what, when – and hold yourselves accountable for these. Informal chats are great for brainstorming, but to really hold oneself accountable there needs to be a Meeting Rhythm. Our Leadership team’s Meeting Rhythm is Daily, Weekly, Monthly & Quarterly with Agenda Templates set for each and common Action plans set throughout.
Each meeting type has its own purpose:
Daily – Top priorities for today, who I need to catch up with
Weekly – A focus on our 90-day priorities as well as PACE (Process Accountability) – What are the key roles and who is responsible, who is accountable
Monthly – Check in on our Numbers and KPIs
Quarterly – Roll Over our 90 Day goals, an Education piece, and set up our next 90 days.
It seems a lot – and it has taken us a while to get used to the “rhythm” – but we all know Who, What & When – it has helped us to all be accountable for executing our strategy.
Prior to setting up our Meeting Rhythms I personally felt like strategy was all on my shoulders. The rest of the team were operationally focused, and it always fell to me to remind them we needed to talk Strategy once in a while. By having our set agendas for each meeting, I no longer have to bear the load. All Leadership Team members are accountable for their own 90-day goals and implementing them in a timely manner. There is a time and a place to talk strategy and we have a process we know how to follow.
A common example of having good structures setup sits with Performance Appraisals and Remuneration. It’s quite a tricky and sometimes a sensitive topic. No one ever wants to bring up that they haven’t had a pay rise in X number of years. Having a system or Meeting Rhythm that has this scheduled at an appropriate time each year, ensures that no one has to feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic. Even when it’s on the agenda, it can still be very awkward, so again having a system or procedure around how the process will flow is important.
Again, using my farming friends’ examples, there’s one where one brother says his brother has every weekend off, the other brother says his brother gets to go on lots of holidays… both are frustrated with each other, both think they aren’t getting a fair deal (and don’t even start with their partners!) The reality is, they are both doing what suits their own family, and this is great, provided they document exactly how much time they each have off and reconcile this yearly – there are so many solutions to this problem, but without having an appropriate forum to discuss, with all concerned parties, with actionable outcomes, this small frustration grows and sometimes tears families apart.
Meeting Rhythms aren’t just for you, its for the whole team. To enable them to have a forum to discuss what’s important to them. A rolling Annual Calendar is a perfect way to do this. You can schedule when meetings need to be held and what needs to be covered in each meeting.
I recently introduced this format to the RDAMR of which I am Chair. At first, I received a few quizzical looks, but when I explained it was so that I don’t forget to do something, I received buy-in. Now we have the AGM scheduled, PA’s, Policy Review Dates, Budget Reviews, Government Funding reporting, Staff Contract Dates, etc – it has helped me ensure we don’t forget anything, but it has also made the team accountable to each of the items. Start small, implement one small step at a time and make it a habit, then add more as you go. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to have discipline and consistency, otherwise, it will fall over.
Jeremy and I undertook a 2-week study tour of Japan to better understand Lean Manufacturing. When asking Sensei why he was so open to sharing his “trade secrets” he simply said, “Aussies do not have the discipline to maintain, they have great ideas, but they don’t see them through”. That piece of advice has always stuck with me.