Founders: How to rock your company huddle without it becoming an awkward time waster.
A source of employee dissatisfaction is ALWAYS a lack of communication. It’s in the top three complaints your team has. I guarantee it. Your team wants more info than you give.
Inevitably you’ve tried a weekly team meeting. You put it on the calendar. The first one was a resounding success. You had so much to say that the meeting ran into overtime. The second meeting wasn’t bad, but the content dropped. By the third meeting, you struggled to scrape together enough to fill the time. You shifted to monthly as a compromise. Within four months the meeting was gone from everyone’s calendar. Or worse yet, it has continued as a painful time waster spent reviewing long to-do lists.
Think about this. For a team of 25, a one hour meeting is costing you at least $1k. That’s $50k a year!
A shoddy company-wide meeting reflects directly on you. It damages your leadership cred. On the flip side, if you’re not bringing the team together and keeping them up-to-date, you’re wearing that too.
Looking for a solution that works? Here’s a PROVEN RECIPE FOR SUCCESS. One of my clients has been using this exact formula religiously, every week, for five years. Their employee satisfaction is off the charts positive.
Use the time to maximum benefit — You can achieve a ton in 25 minutes with a solid schedule. Here’s a sample to get you started.
Host starts the meeting at the scheduled time
Good news stories (4 mins) — An opportunity for anyone in the company to share quick personal or professional good news. A new client. A pregnancy. The launch of a long awaited marketing tool. A promotion. Before the first meeting, prompt a few people to share. It will help get the ball rolling.
Industry news (2 mins) — The host shares one or two bits of news from your industry. Something that’s new, exciting and worthy of sharing.
Department updates (10 mins) — Each week, on a rotating schedule, one or two departments present an update. This is the time to share successes, learnings and upcoming plans, keeping everyone in the loop.
Metrics (2 mins) — Report on the top two or three metrics that your company is tracking. Volume of new orders. Percentage up time. Number of new customers.
Open Floor (4 mins) — An opportunity for anyone else to speak if they have valuable information to share. Often this is where other departments, committees, and you provide urgent updates.
Recognition (1 min) — The host recognizes someone on the team. If you have company values defined, the recognition gets tied to a value. It needs to be a specific person for a specific action or achievement. A general appreciation for the awesomeness of a department or individual doesn’t cut it.
Select the next host (1 min) — The current host chooses someone to be next week’s host. They also announce the departments presenting the following week.
Embrace these four philosophies to rock your weekly meetings.
1) Weekly without fail — Pick a time that works and NEVER move it. Steer clear of Mondays and Fridays to avoid public holidays and personal vacation days. The meeting goes, whether you are there or not (You should be there at least 75% of the time). Set the expectation that everyone needs to schedule around this meeting.
2) Keep it tight — Irrespective of the size of your team, this meeting should run less than 25 minutes. If you can’t keep it on schedule, something’s not working. You will start losing the support of your busy team.
3) Depend on rhythm — This meeting works or fails based on rhythm. Create a template, make sure everyone knows it, and stick to it.
4) Keep it fun — If there isn’t a good dose of laughter every week, be concerned. These meetings should be fun. It’s a time for the team to connect. Keep it light.
That’s the time tested recipe and here are the critical ingredients.
Define a meeting owner — Someone needs to own this meeting. Often it’s an EA, receptionist or office manager. This person has a few critical responsibilities. Two days before the huddle, they send a reminder email to the host and presenting departments. Before the meeting they collect presentations and compile them into one document. On the day of the meeting, they make sure the space is ready, IT equipment is working, and music is playing. During the meeting they take notes of what’s said. Within 60 minutes they send those notes and the presentation to the entire company. Anyone who missed the meeting is back in the loop within an hour.
Start time — Set a standard start time for your meeting and be specific. My client starts their meeting at 1:07 SHARP every Wednesday and ends by 1:30. Why 1:07? Meetings scheduled for the top of the hour will start late. Period. Midday is good for spanning time zones. Early morning meetings infringe on your team’s work-life-balance. Late afternoon meetings will be lower in energy. Choose a time that works and stick to it.
Pump the music — About 3 minutes before the start time, pump music through the office. It builds energy and provides a friendly reminder. The meeting host picks the music for the week.
It’s a standing meeting — Any team member capable must stand. This is a quick huddle not a lingering social event.
Rotate the meeting host — There are so many benefits to having someone different host each week. Here are four. The host gets to practice their public speaking and gets some visibility. No two meetings are the same. As the team grows, everyone gets to know everyone else. Most important, the meeting can always run even if you are away.
Remote employees — Everything I’ve shared is perfect when your team is in one place. This is often not the case. Technology is the answer. Buy a portable video camera and microphone and broadcast the meeting using [insert your favourite tool here]. Have someone watch the computer so remote team members can type in questions.
Large vs small teams — If your team is small (under 10), find ways to have everyone take part in every meeting. Keep it short. Have everyone share one good news story or their single biggest priority for the next 5 days. For larger teams, impromptu is better. Everyone has an opportunity to speak but doesn’t need to.
Daily vs weekly meetings — Some companies use short (<10 min) daily meetings rather than longer weekly ones. Everything here still applies with two changes. Use the same host for an entire week and break the larger agenda down into smaller, shorter pieces.
Give it a try. I’d love to hear your success stories. If you hit some bumps, contact me and I’ll share more tips to get things on track.
I blog to help Founder CEOs on their journey from kitchen table to 200 employees. Be the first to receive new articles by signing up for my newsletter here.