Meetings, you love them, right? You KNOW meetings are important, correct? Okay, now that you have undoubtedly answered affirmatively to these couple questions, I would like you to consider pondering the following questions as well.
- Why do you as a business owner or manager consider meetings helpful…useful?
- Do you feel your staff finds meetings worth the time…why?
- What sort of information is being provided, and how much?
- How often are meetings held?
- How much time do meetings take?
Now that you have given these questions some deep thought, may I give you some suggestions that deal with the questions I have presented? The suggestions I provide will obviously mean more to those of you who have not truly learned the importance of a well-planned meeting policy and procedure.
Here are two facts that do hold true. Number one; the growth of your company, and demands on time are directly proportional to each other. This means as your company grows so does your amount of staff and specific tasks required of each employee. In a nutshell, employees only have so much time to get the job done. In the minds of some of your operational staff they consider meetings a waste of time. Number two; time and communication are equally important. Boy, don’t we all know that. Well, when it comes to time, we’ve got a limited amount of that, huh? You it wisely, I say. When it comes to communication, you have to have it or nothing gets done, correct? Especially when it comes to your business, nothing gets done if no one communicates concerning what needs to be done. So, in order to make the most efficient use of everyone’s time, communication within your business has to be equally efficient and effective
Make the most of both. This is where specifically addressing a meeting policy and procedure comes into play. Emphasize having a specific time frame for all meetings. Always, always, always have an agenda…and stick to it! You implement just these two things and your meetings in general will become much more productive.
Consider having three levels of meetings:
- Department head/direct-report meetings
- Department meetings
- All-staff meetings
Using this information flow process permits information to be disseminated downward.
Department Head/Direct-Report Meetings
Hold department head/direct-report meetings weekly. The purpose for these meetings should be to determine the information distributed to employees concerning financial, personnel or organizational issues. Discussion of employee concerns and suggestions from previous department meetings are possible topics. Believe it or not, employee input will have a positive influence on your business…and no, you will not lose power and what a great avenue to get “buy-in” from employees especially on “change-issues”.
Monthly department meetings offer an excellent arena to discuss departmental issues, suggestions and concerns. The main purpose for this level of meeting is to inform staff of issues directly affecting the department. It has also been proven that regularly held department meetings are a superb forum for feedback in a structured environment.
If you aren’t already, consider holding quarterly all-staff meetings. All-staff meetings present the opportunity to bring all managers and staff together. These meetings provide the opportunity to inform all employees of general news about your business. You may even choose to dedicate a portion of the meeting to addressing employee feedback and employee recognition.
There are two areas of unstructured communication of which I would strongly suggest that you take advantage.
- Company “grapevine”
- Open-door policy
So far I have addressed and emphasized the importance of structured communication, but don’t ignore the power of unstructured communication. Utilize your company “grapevine”. Think of the “grapevine” as an informal one-on-one work-related conversation. If you are able to utilize this “little gem”, you will have an excellent method of building trust and mutual need between middle managers and staff. I suggest that you or your manager(s) go out for coffee with employees under their supervision. Your company “grapevine” gives valuable insight to employee opinion and morale. Best of all, your company “grapevine” is free. Well, except for the cost of the coffee. Don’t kid yourself; you do have a “grapevine”.
I encourage you and your manager(s) to initiate make an open-door policy part of your culture if you aren’t already. The open-door policy should allow employees to freely discuss concerns and offer suggestions for improvement. This creates a positive working environment. An open-door policy develops employees’ sense of company value. It must be made standard accepted practice that if employees express a complaint that they also offer a solution. One suggestion that encourage along with the open-door policy is that you and your manager(s), when faced with a complaint, DO NOT get defensive. Deal with the issue professionally and objectively. I say this because one of the fastest ways to shut down the effectiveness of an open-door policy is when people in authority take negative feedback personally.
If these suggestions are put into practice your business will become a more cohesive unit. External and internal clients, when empowered with effective devices of communication, increase profitability and efficiency.Tweet