Business people like to get things done. They don’t like to waste time. They like to act fast and move on to the next thing. There is too little time to meet, right?
Professional meetings are rare in many retail furniture organizations. Executives, department managers and employees meet only when a situation calls for it. In other businesses, preset meetings occur too often. They can waste time BECAUSE they are undirected – seemingly meeting only to meet.
Meetings can be of great benefit to any organization when led properly with the proper purpose. They can define strategic direction and keep everyone on task toward achieving goals. In this writing, I will summarize seven meeting types that are proven to direct any organization to achieving its goals.
#1 Executive Management Meeting
This is a high level meeting that should be held once per month. Its purpose is company strategy and overall performance review. This is where financial results are evaluated with respect to the budgetary plan. Those that sit for this meeting are the CEO (or President), the CFO (or Consulting CFO), and the Ownership Group.
Executive meetings must be well organized. If they are chaotic, this will trickle-down through the rest of the organization. If they are held professionally, this attitude will extend throughout the rest of the business. Far too often owners complain that a certain employee or department is not performing, when these same owners don’t even sit still for one hour per month to focus on their business performance. If you want to maximize your profit volume potential, ensure you have a professional focus starting at the top.
Executive Management Meeting:
Time: 10th Day of the Month
Meeting Director: CEO.
Attendees: CEO, CFO, Ownership Group, Other Top Level Executives.
- General Business Climate – CEO.
- Review of executive action items.
- Performance to budgetary plan – CFO:
- - Cash Flow
- - Profit
- - General Operating Expense
- - Sales
- - Recommendations
- Company Direction – CEO.
- Expansion items or major asset sales or purchases - CEO.
- Any major impending initiatives or issues – CEO, CFO.
- Open Discussion – Executive group.
- Document any action items.
This meeting is fast. Minute notes should be taken or recorded. The CEO can discuss his observations on how the company is performing with respect to its strategic plan. The status of any action items assigned by the executive group in the previous meeting is reported. The CFO then reviews the results. He or she starts with reporting of cash levels as this is the ultimate report card on company strength. Then, the CFO reviews profit and sales data with respect to set projections. It is critical for the executive group to know monthly whether they are hitting their targets. If the CFO waits 3 months to discuss this, it is too late. The CEO then takes over and reviews company direction and any major purchases that should be approved. Initiatives and general business ideas are discussed amongst the executive members. Finally, any action items are documented.
#2 Operations Meetings
Operation meetings are held each and every week. If the CEO is away, they are still held. There are no excuses for a company missing an Op meeting. The purpose is to turn strategy into action and then to report on the results of the actions taken. This critical meeting connects executive direction with the people who manage it – the department managers: Sales, Marketing, Distribution, Service, Administration/HR, IT, and Financial.
Time: Every Friday: 8:00-9:30
Meeting Director: CEO or Operations Manager
CEO, CFO, Operations Head, Head of Sales, Distribution Manager, Head of IT, Marketing Manager, Customer Service Manager, Office Manager, Human Resources.
- Opening discussion about business climate – CEO.
- Performance to Plan - Round table format – each department head reports on performance.
- Major Project Updates - Round table format – each department head reports on any projects in the pipeline and any action items previously assigned.
- New Action Items Assigned – CEO or operations head.
Inter-departmental communication is strengthened with this meeting. A team atmosphere is embraced. There is less “us” and “them” bickering in the long-run with this open type of forum. This group acts like a performance group in that it allows attendees to report their performance, voice their issues, and get/give guidance on the best course for improvement. Operations is a chain. All parts of that chain MUST come together regularly to identify areas to focus on. After the meeting, the respective managers take their direction back to members of their departments.
#3 Team Meetings: Each Department
Department meetings are held each and every week. The head of the department meets with all her direct reports to review department performance to plan. As a group, they identify areas of improvement. This is a key link in the chain to those who produce.
These meetings are held with the most important people in the company – line employees who sell, market, distribute, service, and support retail products and services. Their job performance determines the success of the company. Executives strategize. Managers manage. Employees execute.
This meeting brings the company strategy to tactical execution under the direction of the department managers. Any distinct area of a business needs a designated leader. Without defining that leader, the leader will be defined organically. That means – defined on its own. This is the way groups of people work. In other words, if you don’t have a sales manager, someone will take control of that group by default. It is obvious that any important part of your business needs someone to manage the execution of corporate strategy. So, these designated leaders need to meet as a group with their teams. They should meet weekly and discuss progress toward their goals as a team. They need to understand how achieving their individual and team goals affect other departments and the survival of the company as a whole.
#4 One-on-One Meetings
These are the most out-of-the-box thinking meetings. They can have a massive impact on improving your business. A one-on-one meeting is simple. A manager meets with his or her direct reports once per month for about 30 minutes. The CEO meets with the executive team or department heads. The CFO meets with the operational and financial staff. The department managers meet with their reports. Everyone meets with someone, routinely.
You might say, “Wow that is a lot of meeting time. That might take away from their work time.”
I say, “Just try it for 3 months.” You will likely find:
- People truly appreciate being heard.
- People will tell you things that will improve your business.
- Everyone will perform better as a team.
- One-on-one meetings are not performance reviews. They are not a report card. They are a person to person conversation. Just keep it simple with a few topic questions to stimulate conversation:
- How are things going?
- Do you see any areas that we could improve?
- Do you have any ideas for us as a business?
After the meeting, document some quick notes so that you can act on any good ideas and review them for the next meeting. Also, during the general course of business, take note of anything the employee might have performed well so that you can compliment him at the start of the meeting. Recognition for many people means as much as monetary reward.
#5 Performance Improvement
These are training meetings. Their purpose is to advance the performance of the team through education. Your competitors are constantly seeking to improve themselves by implementing better techniques and processes. To stay ahead of them, you must commit to continuous improvement. For example, a business should conduct continuous training on best business practices. A sales department needs continual updating in product knowledge, selling techniques, and systems. If you expect to just show someone how to do something for the first couple of months of their employment and then let them go on autopilot, you will not see maximal results. Look at the pharmaceutical sales world: they constantly monitor and train throughout an employee’s tenure. Far too often I see potentially great employees thrown to the wolves after an initial training period. A manager’s job is to provide training and elevate the team. If that is not happening then the CEO should look at how managers are being directed.
Performance improvement sessions can be done as needed wherever attention is required. If one area of your business requires focus, like speed of inventory management, for example, then focus your efforts on improving that. However, even if there is not an apparent problem, current ways of doing things should constantly be challenged. That is how the best get better.
#6 All Company Meeting
This is an all company pep rally. It should be held once per month by the CEO. All employees and managers should be in attendance, if available. One purpose is to strengthen the bond of everyone to the ultimate commander of the entity. As well, the meeting is to remind everyone of the direction the company is pursuing.
#7 Performance Group Meetings
A CEO or owner should work on the business rather than in the business. If a CEO stays inside his or her world 100% of the time, it will be impossible to work properly on the business. This is where performance groups come in to play. I can tell you first hand that 80% of the CEOs in the performance groups that I lead outperform their competition and their industry in profitability year after year. This is no fluke. When you get smart people together for a business retreat, great things happen. I am not going to go into the details of the magic that can occur here. I just advise you to seek out a group of like-minded individuals, outside your business, with a great leader. If you find this, you will benefit from peer support and continual education in business acumen. You will be exposed to best practices and learn to solve big challenges. You will be expected, and motivated, to achieve your goals. You will obtain a camaraderie that is not available within your business. You will be able to bring actionable practices back to your business to maximize your potential.
There are other meetings that occur, of course. However, it is these seven that set the stage. They will have the largest impact on your business overall. They will keep the CEO or owner more in touch with managers and employees. They will allow managers to be more effective in accomplishing company strategy. They will help employees stay on task and feel more comfortable in their individual roles within the organization.