Meetings…UGH!! Am I right?!? Meetings and conference calls are , frequently, met with a very exaggerated eye roll in retail! They, often, lack inspiration and substance. It’s time to reinvent and structure meetings in a different way in retail.
Earlier today I read a great quote from the great Megan Biro of TalentCulture about meetings: “Meetings are certainly the canary in the coalmine; in an authentically transparent company, they reflect everything about that company, including its message and mission.” Everything, all business practices, need to relate back to the company values and mission/vision. Ask yourself – Is the time spent on this meeting and in the meeting going to produce positive, effective, efficient improvements/change to current processes or programs that benefit the workplace, customers, employees, and/or culture? According to this article, “Americans sit through some 11 million meetings every day — with the unproductive ones costing companies $37 billion a year.”…craziness!
In the past year I have worked, diligently, on making meetings effective by ensuring they deliver value, they engage, they encourage participation, and they are fun for the participants!
Here are some of the tools and planning hacks that I use to deliver valuable meetings to my Retail team in our workplace:
(1) Make sure you NEED the meeting
(a) What is the purpose we hope to accomplish?
(b) Who do we need to participate?
(c) What are the specific item(s) we need to provide to the attendees?
(d) Do we have the tools ready that we need to support the meeting?
(e) Can we accomplish what you need by an email?
(f) Can we accomplish what you need by one-on-one’s with a couple people?
(g) Can we accomplish what you need by taking two or three people to lunch and have a “working lunch” on the topic?
Many times e, f, and g are great options in lieu of a “meeting” and who doesn’t like lunch on the company?
(2) Send out an email to the participants with:
(a) Proposed meeting day/time frame
(b) Draft of a very basic agenda that outlines little more than the topic of the meeting to solicit feedback/additional topics and talking points from participants
(c) Having the participants to create the agenda will result in better collaboration, planning, and end result
(3) Create an formal agenda for the meeting:
(a) Assign each topic talking point a time frame (stay on track)
(b) Make sure that all points are relevant and related to all the participants (there is nothing worse than sitting through a meeting that has NOTHING to do with you and according to Steve Jobs “Too many minds in the room gets in the way of simplicity”)
(c) Ensure you build in some “brainstorming time” to each talking point
(d) Distribute the final agenda
(e) In the meeting stay on track with your time table and follow the order of the agenda to the letter
(f) If you get through an agenda point early – move on to the next one – don’t stretch out the conversation to fill time – early is better!
(g) Send out the finalized agenda and ALL relevant meeting materials (presentation decks, etc) at least 24 hours before the meeting (this makes the meeting about generating solutions and opposed to reviewing documents or presentations)
(4) Start with recognition:
(a) In our meetings we start with recognition for the participants – either their contributions/results or their teams results – it elevates engagement and their is a little celebration atmosphere that carries through the meeting
(b) Thank everyone for their time and contributions in advance – people are putting off other work to attend this meeting so make sure you acknowledge it
(5) Make sure you have someone, specifically, assigned to keep the minutes of the meeting
(a) People will make notes about what resonates with them and may miss something…to have someone who is assigned to keep notes on the meeting will ensure that we create and can follow up on action items without missing anything
(6) Participants need to be prepared!
(a) Sending the finalized agenda and communicating that the participants need to bring all the information and tools they currently have prepared to discuss is key to staying on track
(b) Since they have the agenda and relevant materials, there should be thought put into the item, pre-meeting, so ask questions to ensure ideas/solutions have been vetted
(c) Make sure that you communicate and set this “Be Prepared” expectation at every meeting to keep it running on-time and efficiently
(7) Once the topics have been discussed, the minute taker should immediately type up the notes, including:
(a) What was discussed on a high-level
(b) Who is responsible for what
(c) Completion dates of assigned tasks
(8) Ask for feedback from the participants
(a) Have them tell you if the meeting was planned efficiently
(b) Did they find it was productive?
(c) What suggestions do they have for improvement
I found that when I broke our meetings down to these key points that we eliminated 45% of meetings we were having in our office. The meetings immediately became more productive and collaborative. We reduced the time spent on a meeting by approximately 50% (a two hour meeting was now a one hour meeting). The employees were more invested and supportive of the meeting culture we were creating – their preparedness levels went way up. The collaboration of the team was elevated.
Here are some great links for additional ideas to make meetings more efficient and effective in the workplace:
From Inc: How Steve Jobs Make Apple Meetings More Productive
From Pragmatic Conferencing: 6 Easy Ways To Hold More Effective Meetings
From Entrepreneur: Inspired Company Meetings
…and here is a great article from Entrepreneur – 11 Ways Emotionally Intelligent People Overcome Uncertainty that really promotes why hiring emotionally intelligent and emotionally mature employees is such a benefit – they contribute, they collaborate, they are solution-oriented…they add to the culture and they provide relevant feedback and suggestions to build effective strategies from! Making meetings that much more productive and the workplace that much more effective and efficient!