We continually champion the concepts of “partnering” and “collaborative conversations” because they are such critical components to the future success of your business. From developing your vision and crafting your investment philosophy, to designing your client service model, they should serve as constant guides. Even seemingly small details, such as your business meetings, will benefit when partnership and collaboration are the order of the day.
Not only are your team meetings a unique opportunity for team members to come together to solve problems, make decisions and plan, they’re also invaluable for forging greater trust and team identity. Yet all too often, standing weekly meetings start with no truly defined purpose or agenda, end with team members viewing them as “unproductive” or “a waste of time.”
Your charge as the team leader/CEO, therefore, is to co-create business meetings that are focused and powerful. Whether it’s a weekly team meeting, an annual client review meeting, or an introductory meeting with a potential new center of influence, the following eight actions will help ensure that meeting participants come together with common intent and purpose, and leave with a clear action plan and a genuine sense of accomplishment.
- Always co-create an agenda before every meeting – every powerful meeting needs a clearly defined purpose of solving a problem, making an important decision or planning for an important piece of work that ALL meeting participants agree on. Any information required for discussion should be sent for pre-reading before the meeting.
- Include an outcome that will benefit all parties – what are the desired outputs/results you want to accomplish from the meeting? Define any issues that need to be addressed in order to produce the desired outputs/results from the meeting.
- Active listening and “presence” – come to the meeting with an open mind; curious, and ready to discover. Actively listen to what participants are saying rather than filtering their words through your own convictions and beliefs, or focusing on your personal agenda or desired outcome.
- Direct communication – assign a meeting facilitator to keep an eye on the focus and fluidity of the discussion. Make sure that all present voice their opinion/position and that there’s an open, healthy exchange and debate of ideas.
- Powerful questioning – strive to focus on questions that have impact, create new thinking, require new perspectives, and encourage action. They are future-oriented and evoke discovery, asking how instead of why, or what could be rather than what has been.
- Have someone keep track of the time – a designated facilitator should be charged with keeping track of managing the meeting time as well as recording any actions taken, decisions made and/or timelines agreed to.
- Agree to follow-up items at the end of the meeting – recap any required follow-up actions (and their owners) both verbally at the end of the meeting, as well as in distributed meeting minutes to help ensure continued forward momentum.
- Gain consensus on meeting accomplishments – confirm whether or not what was agreed upon at the beginning of the meeting has been accomplished, and whether the outcome was as expected.
Lastly, encourage and welcome feedback regarding the structure and tone of your meetings (e.g., what worked and what could be improved). This will help ensure mutual accountability for the meeting process, discussion and results, and have participants leaving your meetings feeling energized, empowered, and enthused about what has been accomplished.
Coaching Questions from this article:
- Think about your most recent team meeting as well as your most recent client meeting. How many of these eight action steps did you employ?
- What two or three things are you willing to commit to in order to improve the quality of your business meetings?
- Consider the last team meeting you held. How open-minded were you going into the meeting? Were you actively listening or pushing your agenda? How do you plan on improving that going forward?