Most small and medium-sized companies avoid establishing regular meetings because they feel like it will make them too corporate or that they are unnecessary and a waste of time. Correcting this misconception is one of the first things I address when I start working with a company.
I establish standing meeting(s), usually on a weekly basis to address the overall company and important initiatives. The cadence of a standing meeting is crucial, especially when a company is stalled and experiencing problems with growth.
There are 5 reasons meetings matter to growing your organization effectively:
1–Improves Overall Communication
No matter how many emails you send out, individual calls or conversations you have, nothing replaces getting everyone on your team in a room or on a conference line to talk through the aspects of your business.
When I run a company meeting, I run it the same way that the customer experiences the company–starting with marketing, sales, operations, support, financials and ending with general company news. This approach exposes problems in your process as they would be experienced by your customer. If it’s a departmental meeting, I base the agenda on important upcoming milestones.
2–Brings Issues to the Forefront
Relying only on individually provided reports and updates in writing can be dangerous because this type of reporting is generally presented in a positive manner and important details might be missed. When the responsible party presents a status report, you have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and you get a clearer picture of the issues they are experiencing.
As each individual covers their status, it creates healthy conflict between different groups, especially as they discuss hand-off points. These problems can be resolved immediately or tabled for a follow-up conversation. The best news is they don’t continue to fester and impact your company’s overall effectiveness.
When the same topic comes up each week, it will eventually be addressed. One company I am working with has an issue with overdue accounts receivable. The sales reps are tasked each week with following up with three of their worst offending customers. They must report their status on this issue each week. This requirement to report to the group places pressure on the sales reps that wasn’t in place before.
To ensure accountability, assign a different person each week to take notes and have those notes shard out to the team. This helps keep those that can’t attend in the loop and documents what decisions have been made and responsibilities assigned so they can be covered at the next meeting.
4–Emphasizes Core Beliefs and Values
As the leader, you set the precedent. If the weekly meeting isn’t important to you, it won’t be important to your staff. If you don’t require accountability on the topics discussed, your team will ignore them as well. See the weekly meeting as a way to course correct, emphasize what’s important and to keep your pulse on the overall organization health.
5–Amount of Time Isn’t Important
There is no reason that a status meeting needs to last an hour. Depending on the complexity of your organization or the department you are responsible for, the meeting can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour.
For one of my companies, we can cover the whole company in 30 minutes. For another, we spend an hour just talking through their marketing initiatives. Sticking to a prescribed format, requiring that the updates be concise and on target and knowing when to move a discussion outside of the regular meeting is important to making sure the meetings maintain effectiveness.
No matter your size, if your company isn’t holding a regular meeting start now. This is especially important if you feel like your company growth is stalled or you are experiencing issues with your company processes.