Communication is critical to align all players in your company, especially when you grow! This blog post examines the question: What meetings do you need when scaling your company.
In short, these are the meetings to consider for your growing company:
- The Huddle (daily)
- The Team Meeting (weekly)
- The OKR-Meeting (depends)
- The Structural Meeting (weekly)
- The 1:1 (weekly to bi-monthly)
- The Strategy Workshop (quarterly)
- The Townhall (quarterly)
Meetings are the unsung hero of management and leadership. Or, as the former CEO of IBM Andy Grove put it, meetings are the medium of managerial work. To find out which meetings are right for your growing company, let’s first examine the communication demand.
Different purposes of a meeting
Defining your strategy: When working on your strategy, you want to consider input from all of your company’s relevant sources.
Making strategic decisions: During growth, you will have to decide on a variety of questions with a strategic dimension, e.g. investment decisions. Use the power and expertise of your team and decide these impactful questions in a meeting.
Team alignment: Once your strategy and growth targets are defined, you need to get your organization on board. Communication of ambiguous information must happen in a face-to-face setting, otherwise, the risk of partial or wrong reception is high.
Ongoing decision making: Depending on your growth strategy, you will measure different metrics that show you how you are doing. Based on those metrics, you will make strategic decisions to adjust the course of the company.
Task uncertainty: Especially as you scale, there is a great demand to clarify tasks. Each team member needs to continually change the way they work to meet the requirements of new products, channels or simply a growing company. Meetings are the tool to resolve this task uncertainty by clarifying questions and give direction.
Discuss new information: Your growth strategy will, in most cases, rely on assumptions. As you grow, further information will become available. Does your purchasing cost really benefit from economies of scale? Is your IT infrastructure able to handle the order volume, and so on. Meetings will be the place to discuss this new information and make sense of it.
Customer centricity: When growing your company, you want to pay close attention to what your customers or clients tell you – or show you through data. These insights are best discussed in a meeting.
Personal development: As you grow, your people grow with you. They will also need additional skills and will have questions about strategy and execution and about their place in the organization.
Process design and improvement/ Operational efficiency: As you scale, you will do many things for the first time that eventually can be standardized. To do that, processes need to be discussed, examined and improved before standardizing them.
Organizational Development: Similar to personal development, your organization as a whole will grow and change. The decisions you make regarding how you structure your organization are crucial and thus best made using your team’s expertise.
The different meeting types
To cover all the purposes above, we recommend implementing the following meeting types in your company.
This short daily meeting derives its name from the brief time-out or half-time briefings known from most major team sports. Participants will usually be direct reports, so you and your managers or you and your team. The goal is to keep it small.
The huddle can last between 15 and 30 minutes. Exchange all relevant topics for the day and the majority of the group, like new information or new customer information. Postpone more extended discussions to one of the other meeting types. After the huddle, your team members should be crystal clear about the priorities for the day.
Also, this recurring meeting is great to reinforce the strategic direction you’ve set for your company.
THE TEAM MEETING
Gather your team for 1 hour to 90 minutes every week or every two weeks. Assign the responsibility to design a team meeting agenda to one of your team members.
The goals of the team meeting are to discuss topics more in-depth, derive operational measures for strategic decisions, and thus align the team with the company’s strategic goals. Also, use this meeting to review all relevant metrics for reaching your strategic goals so your team is clear about whether they’re on track to reaching the goals.
Team meeting topics also include discussions about process improvements and discuss questions about specific tasks or cases.
OKR-RELATED MEETINGS TO CONTINUALLY REVIEW YOUR PRIORITY TOPICS
No matter if you use OKRs or another operationalization of your strategy, you want to review the metrics and topics you have identified as critical for your strategy. Define a recurring meeting for each of these topics to create transparency and accountability for the subject.
One of these topics will undoubtedly be customer or client-related, but there are limitless possibilities. Let’s say one of your strategic measures is to cut production time by 20%; you want to implement a recurring meeting that tracks progress and pushes this goal.
As we always say, you need to assign a person to every important task you are doing. Otherwise, it won’t get done.
Staff these meetings with the people that have the most knowledge of the matter at hand, regardless of hierarchy or title. This knowledge will also give them the power to make good strategic decisions.
THE STRUCTURAL MEETING
There are functions and team members in your organization that need to have a regular flow and exchange of information. Take Customer Support for example: The insights they gain are critical for improving your operations, fulfillment or product.
Therefore, creating a regular exchange between these functions is highly recommended. You are building additional structures into your organization that your org-structure doesn’t provide.
One of the most powerful meeting types you can have, the 1-on-1 meeting is dedicated time between you and your team member. The team member is responsible for setting the agenda.
Of course, you should address topics that you have, but give your team member room first and let them choose the topics they need to talk about. You will be surprised by the value this generates.
When you grow, or a person is very new in a role, the 1:1 should be very frequent, e.g. weekly. As processes stabilize or the task-related maturity of your team increases, you can space them out four weeks or more.
Usually, you will quickly get a pretty good feeling of how much demand is there in the meetings.
THE STRATEGY WORKSHOP
Every three months, take one to two days to review your strategy and its operationalization. Are you on track? Have parameters changed? Do you have to adapt? Your most knowledgeable team members should be part of this. You can also use this meeting to decide on organizational questions on how to set up your team.
Every three months, gather your whole team and present the current strategy, showcase successes and share best-practice. Also, include an open mic session where people can ask questions or raise concerns
This meeting serves to align your team with the mission and to create clarity about the strategic direction.
Actively manage your meetings
A well-organized meeting landscape will enable you to address all relevant topics, align your organization and make great strategic decisions. It is critical to find the frequency of each of those meetings that works well for you.
From our experience, the recommendation is clearly to rather host the meetings in shorter than longer intervals to save you time spent in meetings.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but let me explain: If you let the intervals get too long, you will have to schedule ad-hoc meetings in between to discuss topics, which in return will occupy time and leave the feeling that you are in meetings all day without getting work done.
Usually, then, the recurring meetings are cut. And you are back at reacting instead of proactively acting.
So keep the meetings short and sweet, frequency high and use this structure to discuss all relevant topics. This will give your team a lot of clarity and time to work on the actual tasks.
Let me know your experience with meetings in the comments.