Business owners, executives, and sales managers often ask about the value of running sales or team meetings, and we’ve found quite a bit of variation with respect to frequency, structure and effectiveness.
But one thing is consistent: either these meetings result in significant gains, or they don’t.
In some cases, team meetings drive engagement and productivity. They consistently serve as a source of knowledge, motivation, and innovative thinking; they promote confidence and camaraderie, and they reinforce a sense of achievement as well as accountability.
But in other instances sales meetings or staff meetings are considered to be non-productive, unpleasant, or even demotivating. Attendance is inconsistent, the tone tends to be negative or punitive, and people never know what to expect. These meetings promote a sense of guilt or, even worse, fear; and certain opportunities are forever lost!
In a September Wall Street Journal article, Sue Shellenbarger shared a variety of examples of how some business leaders have tried to improve the quality and productivity associated with their organizations’ meetings.
Some have shortened the alloted time to thirty-minutes, and others to only five! (these ‘mini’ meetings are conducted on a much more frequent basis).
Many execs require meeting participants to stand, and others have tried even more innovative solutions to promte a more concise exchange, such as a 3 bounce rule: after 3 back-and-forth exchanges between participants, the topic is deferred to a separate meeting. Another imposed a “so-that” imperative: Any update must include a description of the impact on others, as in, “I completed my work on that project so that Angela can take it to the client today.”
Certainly taking some action is better than none!
Possibly a good first step is to assess the quality of your organization’s team meetings, including face-to-face as well as remote sessions.
Here are five key areas to consider:
- Preparation: Do you have a strategic plan, identified purpose, goals and objectives for your organization’s team meetings? Does each team leader take the responsibility seriously and allocate the necessary time for planning each meeting? Is an agenda created? If so, is it shared?
- Content: Does the agenda include more than just a list of tasks? Does each agenda include an educational component, and is interactivity incorporated into the plan? How about recognition?
Does the discussion stay primarily at the group level? Many well-intentioned sales leaders review each person’s pipeline during team meetings – while a brief “dashboard” review of each person’s status is appropriate, too much detail about each person’s sales pipeline or activities violates the rule.
- Scheduling: Are meetings held on a regular basis… either weekly or bi-weekly? Are meetings held on the same day and at the same time each week or every two weeks? Is attendance considered mandatory? Do meetings start and end on time? Are meetings scheduled strictly at management’s convenience, or are all parties’ (including customers’) priorities considered?
- Value: Are meetings run out of “habit” versus value-added need? The best meetings must be value-added for both leaders and the team, so protocols for exchanging relevant information must be incorporated in each agenda; each meeting should include an educational component that is based on the organization’s current situation, and that educates both management and the team on issues that are pertinent to each.
- Relevance & Measurement: Do you measure the effectiveness of each meeting? Are action items from one meeting a component of the the next meeting’s agenda? Is there consistent follow-through in between meetings? Are sales people or team members held accountable? Does management hold themselves accountable?