Nick, the President of the company, looked at Joe, the Vice President of Sales, in bewilderment. “How in the world could this happen, Joe?” Nick moaned. “How could we botch up our relationship with our best customer this badly?”
Joe explained haltingly, “Well, I feel terrible about this, Nick, but I had a short window to make a decision. With both our travel schedules, I haven’t talked with you in ages, but I assumed from our last conversation that this was the direction we needed to take on this account.”
Nick began to think about what kind of effect this debacle could have on profitability. He thought to himself, “There are about a hundred proactive things I’d rather be doing than thinking about going backwards to fix this incredible screw up.”
If you have ever been part of a similar situation, you know that gut wrenching regret that comes with knowing that the problem you are facing could and should have been avoided by effective communication. One of the best tools to avoid this kind of agony is the proactive and judicious use of effective meetings.
As a general rule, it is wise to schedule as few meetings as are required to get excellent results for your organization. If you’ve ever been part of an organization that has “meeting fever,” then you know what a time and money waster too many meetings can be. With that in mind, I have found that there are several types of profitable meetings for the leader of a team or an organization:
Purpose: Meeting with a subordinate for information sharing, feedback, goal setting, resource allocation, etc.
Time and Timing: Typically one-half to one hour weekly to monthly
Time Management/Profit Advantage: Proactive way to stay in touch with each subordinate’s needs, goals, and performance; more efficient than hit-or-miss “tag” at other times
Purpose: Meeting with key people for information sharing and relatively brief discussion focusing primarily on the day-to-day operation of the organization
Time and Timing: Typically one to four hours weekly to monthly. Have a non-negotiable stop time to prevent “meeting time expansion”
Time Management/Profit Advantage: Proactive way to bring together the people needed for the successful implementation of your strategic plan; more efficient than individual meetings
Purpose: Meeting with key people for creating or updating your strategic vision and plan
Time and Timing: Typically one-half day to several days twice yearly to quarterly. Schedule enough time for uninterrupted in-depth discussion and resolution of key strategic decisions
Time Management/Profit Advantage: Proactive way to bring together the people needed to help you steer your organizational ship to “Port Success” (as opposed to being dragged along behind the ship clinging desperately to the anchor chain); more efficient than individual meetings
Special Purpose Meetings
Purpose: Meeting among key people for resolving a specific issue that: a) does not require the entire team, and/or b) is too time consuming for a staff meeting, but can’t wait until the next strategic meeting
Time and Timing: As required to achieve the desired results
Time Management/Profit Advantage: Proactive way to keep regularly scheduled staff meetings and strategic meetings as efficient as possible by including only those people who are required for resolution of the specific issue
Technique #1: Schedule as few face-to-face meetings as are necessary to achieve excellent results for your team or organization.
Technique #2: Start meetings on time, and end them on or before the agreed upon time to avoid “meeting time expansion.”
Technique #3: Schedule 2-4 strategic meetings per year—the world is changing much too rapidly for the old-style annual strategic planning meeting.
Technique #4: Engage a competent external meeting facilitator when this results in superior meeting outcomes and a good Return On Investment.
Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.