The Rhythm Can Set You Free: Making Every Meeting Count

Team meetings – you know they are important and you know you should be doing them better, but they just don’t seem to get the time and attention they deserve.  And when you do get the team together you’re not exactly sure what you should be covering.  Does this sound familiar?

In his bestselling book ‘Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits’ growth guru Verne Harnish finally puts the uncertainty around staff meetings to rest by showing how establishing a ‘rhythm’ of regular team meetings should be a non-negotiable for any business that is experiencing, or looking to experience growth .  In fact he states that the faster you are growing the more you should meet. To many of us the thought of more meetings sounds exactly what we don’t need.  However Harnish advocates that short, punchy well managed meetings are a fundamental for driving growth.

The rhythm of team meetings should be based around a steady beat of short, sharp daily huddles and a more in depth weekly meeting. These daily and weekly meetings focus on execution and overcoming obstacles.  A monthly meeting of 2 – 4 hours focuses on providing learning for staff team and quarterly and annual meetings are used to review and set strategy.  A quick outline for the content of each meeting is given below:

Daily: You might think it will be impossible to get your team together every day.  However like many habits, what starts as something you have to drive very deliberately can end up becoming second nature. While the daily meetings can be referred to as huddles they don’t have to be a physical meeting for every business, you may need to use mobile phones or Skype to bring together a field team for example. If you can bring the team together in one place, don’t let them sit down, this is meant to be quick. The daily meeting should focus on three and only three topics:

  1. What’s up – each person gets 30 seconds max to report on what they are working on
  2. The daily numbers: Each business should have one or two daily metrics that are reported at the huddle. For a retail business this might be previous day’s sales, average sale and number of customer transactions compared to the previous year. Or perhaps for an internet company it might be website hits.
  3. Where are you stuck – This is the most valuable part of the meeting.  It gives each member of the team the chance to verbalise areas or issues they are struggling with and can very quickly give the team and the leader an insight onto where energies need to be focused.

Be careful not to get to bogged down in too much detail on any one point.  The daily meeting should never exceed 15 minutes and if any in depth discussion the participants should be invited to take it ‘offline.’

Weekly: One of the major benefits of holding daily meetings is that when you come to your weekly meeting you have dealt with a lot of the smaller issues and can be free to free to get more in depth on a  chosen topic. Harnish suggests your weekly meeting last between 30 minutes and an hour and include the following::

1)      Good news: Team meetings can become something that is dreaded by staff and managers alike.  Starting by sharing good news is not only a positive way to get started but gets participants into a positive and open state that will lead to constructive and productive meetings. Each member of the team should aim to share at least one piece of personal and business related good news from the week.

2)      Weekly productivity indicators should be shared with the whole team.  This may be as simple as three indicators, they should be presented graphically, and are not there to provoke in depth conversations.  Share the facts and then move on.

3)      Customer and employee feedback: Every business should be collecting customer and employee feedback.  This is the form for this feedback to be aired and actions committed to.

4)      A rock or single issue: This should be the major focus of the weekly meeting.  Rather than dealing with numerous small issues highlight a key issue every week to get the teams collective input on. This is a great way to support a current focus within the business.

Monthly, Quarterly and Annual

The monthly meeting is used to review monthly results including the key numbers from the p&l, and also to get updates on each team member’s goals. Use at least half of this meeting to provide training for staff.  It is a chance to make sure that learning and development are delivered in a regular and structured manner in your business.  It provides a good chance for senior staff and managers to pass on their knowledge to newer colleagues.

Quarterly and Annual meetings should be used to review and establish strategy. Verne Harhish recommends having a quarterly focus for the whole business and the quarterly meetings should be used to launch the new focus for the quarter ahead.

One of the reasons this book rings so true is that a number of successful businesses we have seen grow in both sales and profit have promoted the benefits of establishing the daily huddle.  This book goes one step further and gives the reader the instructions on how to implement a successful meeting rhythm in their business.