Effective Management Meetings
3 of the 5 Required Disciplines for Managing Your Business
Management Meetings, like many of the fundamental business strategies, are often regarded as not particularly valuable. This article focuses on the strategies required to make Effective Management Meetings the linchpin of your business.
As a quick reminder, there are five core disciplines business leaders should ensure are well implemented and maintained for a strong and adaptable business.
The five disciplines are:
#1 – Practical Company Planning
#2 – Using an Accountability Chart
#3 – Effective Management Meetings
#4 – Monitoring a Simple Company Scorecard
#5 – Strong Financial Control
This article focuses on #3 in the series: The Discipline of Effective Management Meetings. You can find previous articles at betterexecute.com, with subsequent articles published over the coming weeks.
Why Effective Management Meetings Are Required
Although there are many reasons why Effective Management Meetings are necessary, three important reasons are to improve Accountability, Focus and Problem Solving. Here is how:
Your team needs to develop and maintain a high level of integrity in achieving its objectives. Too often, companies have meetings where they identify important tasks that need to be completed by specific individuals. Yet without consistent accountability, these tasks lack the discipline to achieve a timely and effective outcome. Instilling this mentality regularly will develop a continued culture of strong and appreciated accountability.
A well-run Management Meeting will identify key tasks or project benchmarks that need to be completed by the following meeting and managed in the interim. This process will identify weak performers as well as validate those who are striving to complete their tasks on schedule.
As the renowned management consultant Peter Drucker states: “What gets measured gets managed”. Another key part of an effective management meeting is reviewing a Company Scorecard.
Your Company Scorecard tracks five to seven key performance indicators (KPIs) week on week, as well as some core financial numbers such as sales revenues, to monitor how the company is performing. This keeps everyone aware of the status of the company, identifying concerns early to prevent them from becoming major issues that affect cashflow and financial results. We all have the same amount of time in a week. Focusing on the right issues to work on is the difference between a productive company and one that is just busy.
When considering the value of solving problems before they develop into bigger problems, it is often said that you should, “kill the giant when it is a baby”.
This sage advice is regularly overlooked without effective weekly Management Meetings. Any good management meeting will have the majority of its duration dedicated to clarifying and resolving key issues. This requires both skill and discipline. Skill is needed in order to correctly tease out the core issues at play, while discipline is required to identify practical strategies that are implemented and managed until the issues are completely resolved. Often management teams will address the symptoms rather than tackling the root cause of an issue. This allows problems to compound over time, impacting morale and productivity.
What is the Agenda for Effective Management Meetings?
Our favourite agenda for high-quality weekly 60-90-minute management meetings is outlined below. Click here to download our free agenda format to use as a starting point in creating an agenda that meets your company needs:
- First Five Minutes – Begin your meeting with authentic examples of what is working in the company. Where are people demonstrating the company’s core values and what’s already working? You have the rest of the meeting to focus on the negatives so spend a couple of minutes identifying some positive items to initiate a positive mindset.
- Next Five Minutes – Review the company scorecard. Identify which numbers need to be addressed as issues within the meeting. If you don’t have a scorecard, now is a prime opportunity to discuss and make one. What key activities and numbers can be tracked at a weekly cadence to monitor your company’s functionality?
- Next Five Minutes – Headline information regarding customers or employees. Make visible any noteworthy goings-on internally and externally. This is your opportunity to share information across the company rather than just within departments.
- Next Five Minutes – Review the tasks and minutes that were generated from the last meeting. Ensure there remains a high level of integrity and accountability amongst the team and across all tasks.
- Next Five Minutes – Review the status of the key initiatives or ‘Rocks’ for the quarter (see my blog on Goal Setting for more information). The owner of each initiative states whether their project is on or off track as defined in the previous quarterly meeting. If off track, it is added to the issue list.
- Next Five Minutes – Issue Management. Assess the status of issues discussed previously, ensuring that the solution strategies remain tracked through to completion, again for accountability.
- Next 25-55 Minutes – Top Issue Identification, Discussion and Resolution. Once the company performance has been observed and discussed briefly, it is time to focus the best minds of the company on the issues or opportunities that need to be obtained or resolved. The first step is to identify the top issues to be discussed. This will likely only be a subset of the items on your ‘issues list’ which is maintained week upon week in order to keep items consistently visible until resolved. The time taken for problem-solving is both efficient and effective. It is efficient because it provides a specific time and place for management to discuss issues, thereby reducing the need for multiple repetitive conversations. It is effective because it enables the team to analyse to root issue, rather than becoming distracted by the symptoms. There are many great articles and books on getting to the core issue, such as The Five Whys by Majed F. Rajeh. Once the core issue is identified, the team can contribute towards a unified solution. Finally, the best solution strategy is debated, defined and attributed to an owner. If it is a larger effort it can be managed in the Issue Management section of your next meeting.
- Final 5 Minutes – Make sure everyone is clear on any tasks they own and ask everyone to rate the quality and effectiveness of the meeting. You can ask, “Did everyone get what they needed to from today’s meeting?”
Be sure to start and end on time – or earlier when possible. Use your meeting’s minutes to capture a list of items or topics that were not able to be discussed so they can be reviewed at the next week’s meeting.
Why Your Weekly Management Meetings May Lack Effectiveness
Although there can be many reasons why a meeting is not seen as effective, the most common reasons are:
- Tasks are not clearly owned by a single person and therefore not followed up on to ensure completion within the allocated timeframe.
- There isn’t a company scorecard to identify what and when things are off track.
- When issues are discussed there isn’t enough discipline placed on first identifying the core problem, causing conversations to go off on tangents.
- A clear agenda is not consistently followed.
- There isn’t enough trust amongst the team to speak openly and frankly about issues.
- Meeting length, times and dates are not consistent.
- There isn’t a clear focus on what to accomplish within a quarterly cycle.
All of these issues are valid reasons for why people may not place a great deal of value on weekly management meetings.
Effective Weekly Management Meetings are the most important discipline to get right with your team. You will keep everyone focused and inspired to do great work and identify problems in the company’s performance when the challenges are small and manageable. We hope this article has inspired you to tighten up your weekly management meeting in places you hadn’t been thinking about improving. Enjoy the process!