Death by Meeting? Not Quite.


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So, Death by Meeting.  You know it’s more than just a book – it’s an actual thing.

But it turns out meetings actually hold a valuable place in your communications playbook.  Here’s how you find the right balance.

You know what – leaders have to communicate with their teams – there’s no way around it.  Particularly if some or all of your team is remote.  But even when everyone’s onsite –regular communication goes a long way to make sure everyone stays on the same page, and projects move forward.

There are 3 types of meetings I couldn’t do without – the Watercooler, a weekly tactical and 1on1s.

Our Watercooler is a daily 10 -15 minute  check in and it’s just for my direct reports.  Different companies call this by different names – daily huddle, team huddle, standing meeting.  It’s a chance for each senior manager to recap their priorities for the day, ask questions of one another, and get company updates.  The daily cadence helps make sure no outstanding item gets pushed off too far, and open questions get answered.  It’s also a good time for team members to ask for help or resources from the rest of the group.

It’s critical to keep this meeting short – and I suggest that the CEO go last.  Oh, and each manager does a daily check-in with their teams as well.

use every available tool to track stats, and visually display them, so you can easily see the progression from one period to the next.”

The Weekly Tactical is a longer meeting (we try to keep it to an hour or less), where we go over metrics, project updates, the education corner (we’re an HR company, so we have to deal with changes in employment law all the time), product and delivery updates and improvements, and we brainstorm about thorny situations we’re working on with clients. (Not surprisingly – some of our best HR stores come from the ‘hot topics’ section of our meetings.).  I swear – one day I’m going to write another book…

The tactical meeting is for department heads, but once a month the whole team is invited.  By the way, the education corner of the All Hands Tactical, is a great opportunity for junior members to sharpen their presentation chops.

Our tactical meetings used to be a lot longer – sometimes even 2.5 hours.  But once we started tracking metrics and reporting them on dashboards, it cut down significantly on a lot of random discussion about standard activities.  I strongly suggest you use every available tool to track stats, and visually display them, so you can easily see the progression from one period to the next.

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And, we also use a formal agenda.  And my Exec Asst takes notes that are distributed after the meeting.  I finally realized that a lack of organization guarantees a meeting that goes on way too long!

And last, but certainly not least are the 1on1s.  I meet with each of my direct reports, individually for appx. 45 minutes, every other week.  This is our private time to talk about the clients, wins, roadblocks, and just have some private discussion time together.  It keeps us connected.

So, you’re probably saying – how much time does all these meetings take?  Not nearly as much as you think.  I have a daily 10 minute Watercooler, and I block out Thursdays as my team meeting day.  We actually call it Idomeneo Day. This is the day for the Weekly Tacticals, and my 1on1s.  So even on Thursdays my heaviest meeting load is two 45 minute 1on1s and the 1 hour Tactical or All Hands meeting.  And it’s one day a week I know I am going to focus internally on the team, instead of all the other external obligations on my plate.

You don’t have to use this blueprint – but you do need to plan regular, consistent, structured opportunities to stay connected to your team, on an individual as well as team basis.  Because there’s nothing worse than an out of touch leader.

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