I found myself reminding clients this week that monthly management meetings have value and assist in maintaining focus. Experience has taught me that all big business does is meet, but that entrepreneurs often feel too busy to meet formally with management teams to guide their business. Small business is run by very busy individuals fulfilling multiple roles in a company. The luxury of focusing on one particular discipline rarely exists and the most valuable asset is often time.
WHY DO SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE AVOID INTERNAL MEETINGS
I believe entrepreneurs often avoid regularly scheduled management meetings since experience has taught them that meetings are: non productive, expensive, and too often run long due to tangent dialogue about details best handled by a unit manager in charge of specific area of the company. Few small business people have enjoyed formal training on meeting management. Worst yet many members of small business management teams have not grown up in a corporate culture where meeting etiquette and discipline is learned by observation over years.
THE MINIMUM MEETINGS SCHEDULE
I have often recommended the introduction of a formal monthly management meeting calendar in small businesses. Publishing a Quarterly schedule in advance allows team members to plan for participation. Standard agenda topics often include:
– Month End Financial Reviews
– Prior Month Sales Reporting (To Include a Competitive Update when appropriate.)
– Review of The Coming Month Promotions and Advertising
– Prior Month Production/Service Metrics
– Coming Month Objectives Based on the Business Plan Calendar
– Open Discussion on Selected Management Decisions Pending
When managed well these meetings last no more than 2 hours but are valuable in focusing the team and making coordinated business adjustments throughout the year.
MANAGING MEETINGS WELL
Managing meetings is a valuable skill. Below are tips to insure your meeting time investment gets you a return.
Before The Meeting
1) Send out a crisp agenda in advance.
2) Talk to everyone about agenda items in advance. (Yes – you should not be surprised by anything in a meeting if it is your meeting.)
During The Meeting
1) Get everyone involved by asking for opinions randomly.
2) Terminate Tangents with discipline.
3) Take good notes.
4) Summarize Next Steps and Follow-up Accountabilities before moving to a new agenda item.
After The Meeting
1) Publish Minutes and Notes to everyone with Follow-up Assignment Accountabilities and Due Dates.
2) Talk to everyone again about the items discussed to secure closure and resolve.
Managing meetings is work. The process requires discipline. The investment is well worth the time and effort when you see: your teams pull together, deadlines understood and hit and clarity of purpose permeate your organization.