You’ve got your business up and running. You’ve got a team nailed down. You have client work on the calendar. So what’s next?
That would be the meeting.
Meeting should be used strategically, given how much team time they take. To maximize team productivity and communication, these six meetings are worth holding weekly:
1. The Brainstorm
If you’ve reflected on some current business practices and found that you’re in the market for something new, the next step is to develop some ideas. Don’t bother trying to scrape together some ideas over email; it’s best to do the work in person.
To make brainstorms worth your while:
- Encourage your team to speak their minds. You can narrow down ideas later, but it’s difficult to get participation if every idea is shot down right away.
- The wilder the idea, the better. A wild idea can be made more realistic. Ideas that start small, though, tend to be harder to improve. Encouraging wildness can also keep the creative juices flowing during the meeting.
- Facilitate for efficiency. The point of brainstorming is to get as many ideas on the page as possible. However, you have to maintain some kind of structure: Have one conversation at a time, and write things down in a centralized place, such as a whiteboard.
Having weekly brainstorming sessions will keep you and your team on your toes. Even if the ideas don’t become a reality right away, you’ll have an arsenal of things to choose from down the road. You can also use this time to workshop old ideas if you don’t need to come up with new ones.
2. The Task Setter
The task-setting meeting is the time to put ideas into action. Think of it as the brainstorm’s older, more mature brother.
Learning how to prioritize tasks is important in making the most of everyone’s time. The last thing you want is to focus on tasks that don’t help you reach your goals. One approach to task management that works well for task setting is the 4Ds technique:
- Delete: Drop anything that isn’t time-sensitive or crucial to progress.
- Delegate: If you are not in the best position to take on a task, delegate it. Considering everyone’s strengths and weaknesses is important here. Explain the reasons for your choices, tell delegatees what they’ll be doing, and set deadlines appropriately.
- Defer: Some tasks can be pushed back if they aren’t as urgent as others.
- Do: If a task can be done quickly or needs to be finished soon, just get it done.
3. The Status Update
The status-update meeting is critical in determining whether the team’s actions are aligned with an overall goal. Not every update deserves its own meeting, but don’t be afraid to get everyone together once a week for a chat with the project manager.
In this meeting, you can determine which team members are on top of things and which ones might be struggling. Luckily there are plenty of solutions if the issue is, for example, poor time management.
How can you identify poor time management skills? Common signs include poor quality of work, missed deadlines, and unhealthy habits — such as getting too little sleep.
4. The Problem Solver
You and your team should have talked about any challenges in the status update meeting. If there’s a big-picture on you couldn’t solve in that conversation, the problem-solving meeting can help you find a solution.
Whatever the problem, use this four-step framework to get to the bottom of it:
- Gather a list of potential causes of the challenges.
- Brainstorm some helpful resources.
- Make a list of potential solutions or approaches.
- Decide on recommendations for action by debating solutions and agreeing on one.
5. The Sales Check-in
Because the green keeps the business going, it’s important to give extra attention to sales. But these meetings, like any other, can lose you money and productivity if not done correctly.
Sales check-ins should be grounded in hard evidence. Be sure you bring at least one of three things — and ideally all three — to every sales check-in: data, feedback, or action.
One topic to chat through at these meetings? How salespeople are following up with clients after a sale. Follow-ups can engage customers, leading to higher lifetime value. This can be as simple as inviting customers to webinars or more hands-on, such as volunteering with customers on a cause they support.
6. The Team Builder
Team building is one of the most beneficial things you can encourage as a leader. It’s as critical, if not more, than talking through the numbers.
When team members get to know each other more deeply, they get a better sense of one another’s strengths, weaknesses, fears, and capabilities. They enjoy working together more, improving efficiency while minimizing employee turnover.
Team-building activities can range from chili cook-offs to icebreaker games. It’s up to you to decide what your team will enjoy.
Meetings may not always be fun, but they should always be valuable. These six meetings make sense to hold at least once a week. Can you think of any others?