Conway Daily Sun July 28, 2010
By Michael Kline, The Entreprenologist
Most of us who have ever worked in a larger company can attest to most meetings being a waste of time. Endless research proves that to be correct. Let’s do some math – three salaried managers, who earn $60,000 per year, cost a total of $180 to sit in the conference room for just two hours. If they only do this once a week, that meeting costs the company about $9,000.00. Who decided to spend $9,000 on that weekly meeting? Is there even an approval process for this budget item? Of course not! How many of these meetings are “purchased” every week with little to know thought on the return on investment? Think of the cost of a whole team sitting there all day to learn or accomplish very little. Meanwhile, the same company is counting paper clips and cutting services to customers to save money!
The good news is, tremendous progress has been made on a relatively new business model, the “Results Only Work Environment”, in which employees own the personal responsibility and accountability for the results of their job. They work the hours they want, the way they want, and all meetings are voluntary. This concept isn’t just for hippies and philosophers; it’s actually working in the real world, in large, profitable corporations. The book that explains the genesis and real life experience of the concept is “Why Works Sucks and how to Fix it” by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. Of course for this to be effective, meetings would have to offer value to employees. Employees would need to be motivated to want to get that value to increase their productivity. The company culture would have to be such that people who cared and would be rewarded for results, not just activity. That would mean abandoning everything that waste time and productivity in the company. Owners and managers would have to make wholesale changes to the old way of doing and thinking about everything that happens in the company. That would mean utter chaos for most companies, and panic in the minds of most managers. Read the book, and then argue with me.
So yes, the Entreprenologist is a big fan of eliminating as many meetings as possible. Unless, you are like many small businesses and don’t have near enough meetings in the first place. Everything in moderation, I say. I like a little dark chocolate, a little wine, and a few good meetings.
Most small organizations agree they should have regular meetings, but don’t bother because they make the argument that they all see each other constantly. This is costing as much as having too many meetings, because you're missing focus and alignment on your specific strategy for achieving your stated goals. Of course if you have no stated goals, or haven’t created a clear strategy to achieve them, or lack the talented staff to contribute, then yes, meetings would be a waste of time.
Before you take my advice and commit to weekly staff meetings, you need to have a purpose to your meetings, a strict agenda and some rules. First, what’s the point of meetings? In the past, they turned into complaining sessions – that’s not productive. Sometimes they are just for talking about sticking points in operations or sales process. That’s nice, but that’s the daily meeting agenda, not the weekly. Confused? I’ll give you the schedule, but the implementation is most effective when guided by a professional outside coach (or Entreprenologist). Meet first with your key people to establish your annual goals and your strategic plan. Assign accountability for every item on the plan. Meet weekly with the agenda being a report from each team member on their areas of responsibility to the plan. Everyone is accountable to everyone else, every week. No more getting off track and not making lasting changes or progress! You determine what data you should measure daily that most drives your primary goal. You meet every day for five to fifteen minutes to discuss your measured data and any sticking points that should be addressed. The cycle gets adjusted once a quarter with a strategic plan update – no changing the plan in the middle of a quarter – give your strategies a chance to succeed or fail before you change directions again. This helps manage the A.D.D. of the typical owner, the need for consistency of the typical manager, and the need for focus for the rest of the team. In summary, the plan is written annually, updated quarterly, monitored weekly and pulsed daily. That’s probably all the meetings you need, unless you want to meet with me to personalize a plan for you.