I’ve been in a meeting for just over 1 hour now, thinking to myself about all the things I need to be doing. My sales manager called a meeting with the team to discuss options regarding a sales pitch, but we seem to being going round in circles, and we’ve even been down a few rabbit holes.
As a business owner, delegating to your staff and getting them to accept responsibility for the job they were hired to do, and in a timeframe that makes a difference to your business, is not always the easiest thing to achieve.
On the one hand we want them to own the process, but on the other, we want to ensure they get their logic right so that. Simultaneously achieving both means that as business owners, we can trust their decision making processes so they’ll choose the right option, ultimately enhancing our business and building our long term profitability. We do this so eventually we can sleep at night and worry about 1 less thing in our business!
In the Business of Change
Most meetings result in change, and this change may be the following:
- A change in people’s understanding of an issue (internal communication)
- Changes in processes (internal or external)
- Potential change in functions or workflows
- A change in approach to your customers (be it price, delivery of, or quality of what you supply).
And most people don’t like change; it’s challenging!
Some people endorse change while some people openly object to change. Others may even sabotage change. So how do we create productive meetings where potential change is not as threatening as it’s perhaps perceived to be?
Using my 38 years experience in business, I regularly coach business owners around delegation and empowering of teams. I have learned that to get maximum value from meetings, it is imperative to provide a structure that has a purpose.
The premise is this; if you accept that meetings are about CHANGE, then in my opinion, you approach meetings knowing the purpose is to manage change.
It’s so much more than an agenda, and it’s so much more than a convener turning up with an idea in mind. The purpose must be built around what you want to achieve from the meeting, knowing that you are asking people to change an outcome, a process, a workflow or a customer offer.
Hack 1 – Assess the team profile of attendees
In calling a meeting, generally you want to convey a message or get a decision made so the business can move forward seamlessly.
But so many meetings get hijacked because many attendees don’t have the information they need to make a decision, or they go round in circles because people want to avoid making decisions (there is never enough information). The mixture of people in meetings can greatly impact how the meeting goes, and where they end up. And yet managers tend to get involved emotionally because they have not spent time thinking about how the group functions as a team.
Who Is Your Team?
So if you are convening a meeting, spend a few minutes thinking about each attendee and their contribution style. Are they
- Need facts?
- Worried about the impact on others?
- Do they want to get to the right answer quickly?
A better understanding of how each person in the meeting acts will guide you as to what you need to address within a meeting, and you will better identify when and where your meeting gets hijacked.
There are many tools available to determine profiles of people. A simple free one may be a good start https://www.personalityperfect.com/16-personality-types/ . If you need more detail, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hack 2 – Define your outcome
As convener of a meeting, have you really spent some time thinking about what outcome you want from the meeting? Perhaps you have but you’re not sure how to get there, and you have some good ideas.
I find a really useful tool is to break your “outcome” down into three pillars (or building blocks). Ideally, this tool becomes a thought process for each of the team members to use in meetings; if everyone has the same process, then meetings are more likely to be productive and useful.
Vision – Describe what success looks like, and the impact of the outcome/decision made. This includes the benefits to the business (customers/staff/owners). If you can’t describe it, then it is difficult to see how a team can sign up for it, and how they can help. Your “vision” of the outcome can be short, medium or longer term in outlook.
Alignment – to get to the outcome, alignment is about who needs to be involved and at what stage. What information gaps do you have, and do you need internal or external resources to overcome the gap? Alignment helps you understand where the risks lie and what roadblocks/obstacles need to be overcome, and what work needs to be done to get the team on board.
During the alignment stage, benchmarks or KPIs can be set so it is clear there is a process to measure risk, benefits, and the outcome from the proposed change.
Implementation – this is the ownership section:
- Delegation of responsibility of tasks
- Timelines being set
- Approval processes put in place
Too often I see managers rushing to implementation and when things don’t go quite according to plan, wastage of time and money increases dramatically. Indeed, it can lead to the death of a really good idea because it gets too hard (a lack of clarity in outcome or risks not properly managed).
Hack 3 – Champions are essential
Have you ever wondered why all your ideas and decisions as a business owner get actioned? Generally, it is because you are the champion.
But when managers champion their own ideas, we want to avoid staff worrying about the onerous aspect of responsibility, and what happens if things go wrong. When they head up a project, we want staff to be transparent if they are unsure of its merits or have some doubt.
Having a structure, such as set out above in Hack #2, gives the team a process to work within, and you as business owner can have confidence in the structure. This means you can more easily stress test the parameters, and make sure meetings are on track. If you are championing the project as the manager, the structure gives you a process to communicate to the owner and your team about each aspect. Your responsibility then aligns with managing the process and asking the right questions, rather than managing the fear of failure.
The power of structured meetings with purpose.
As a Business Coach, I know the power of good meetings. And if you have a framework, then the mindset becomes more robust as you build a process that works for you and your business. Your team get to learn the process and rather than creating “win:lose” meetings, your meetings create a curious team wanting to build a winning strategy.
I help business owners build better processes by building better teams. Change is never easy, but if you want an experienced business coach by your side, then book a call with me to discuss how I can put six figures and beyond into your business. https://go.oncehub.com/DavidLockwood