Meetings, and company staff meetings in particular, are often moaned about as bureaucratic, frequently parodied on TV and always ridiculed in cartoons.
But I love my company meetings. Every Friday morning we meet to discuss what has happened over the past week and talk about what is forthcoming.
It was Rudi Giuliani's book that helped me understand the value of regular staff meetings at a time that my business was beginning a period of rapid growth. It is probably the single most valuable thing that we do in continuing to develop the company. Cancelling a staff meeting is rare.
- Worthwhile: Lots of decisions get made, everyone knows they will get an answer from me - no hierarchy or structure to go through.
- Open and direct: we tell each other what we think, share problems and help one another.
- From time to time meetings needs agenda items, but typically the agenda is the people - just going round the room to get input, queries, thoughts and reports.
- Social: Interaction between our team sometimes only happens once a week - we have field engineers who are typically out at clients all week.
- I am accountable - to everyone. So is everyone else.
- Some companies lighten the atmosphere at meetings, when I tell people about our meetings and ask what works for theirs, I have heard of afternoon "pic n' mix" meetings (difficult now) and even paper plate awards.
- Look forward and share what most companies view as secret "directors' stuff": Restate goals for the year and ambitions - honest view of plans and forthcoming targets - e.g. an extra 10 clients in the next quarter, new team and team leader, training aspirations.
- Restate key points from training, getting everyone interested in what everyone is learning has really helped get everyone interested in continual development.
We struggle with time, things do sometimes get heated and we disagree, but we make real progress.
***** Edited 27/03/09*****
Take a look at Seth Godin's tips for solving meeting problems, practical things to try ...