Meetings Are Awesome
Despite the title of this blog, please don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not a big “meeting guy.” We’ve all met people over the years who’ve trapped us in meetings to pontificate and waste everyone’s time. This isn’t me. I don’t love meetings for the sake of meeting, but I’ve come to the realization that I can’t effectively lead a company without them. I have a strict standard, though, that there’s only one type of meeting that I’ll attend: a productive meeting.
At Assurance, we’ve instituted a series of management meetings throughout the year that I consider quite productive. I believe a meeting is productive if during its course we accomplish one of three things:
- Make a decision
- Agree upon defined next steps
- Improve understanding or buy-in
I used to ignore the third one; I felt that if there wasn’t a series of action items I could point to, then the meeting was a waste of time. As our company has grown and our leadership has expanded at multiple levels, however, I recognized that keeping everyone on the same page is extremely important. Often that informing process is better in person, with a shared experience to discuss options, debate strategies and ask and answer questions.
Without meetings, Assurance couldn’t really run. To be sure, we couldn’t run as well.
Our meeting “system” has been one of the underlying secrets to our success. Here’s a rundown of the meetings that the leadership group of Assurance has on a regular basis.
- One-hour Friday meetings
Five executives of Assurance meet on Friday for one hour to discuss the tactical issues facing our company in the coming weeks. These happen three times per month.
- 3 hour Friday meetings
Once per quarter, we extend the Friday meeting to three hours. This longer time gives us the opportunity to dive deeper into corporate-wide projects, new business opportunities and the broad direction of the company.
- Quarterly off-site meetings
A broader leadership group meets quarterly to review the company as a whole, ensuring we’re living up to our strategic plan and executing across the company on all of our projects and initiatives.
- Annual retreat
A two-day retreat is held each year where this extended leadership group updates our strategic plan and creates our corporate projects for the coming year.
There are, of course, other meetings that happen with routine at Assurance. These include business unit monthly meetings, an all-employee annual meeting and quarterly sales meetings to name a few. Many of the same people are attending or running these various meetings. While it’s a constant struggle, I believe we’ve struck a good balance between having enough meetings to continuously and efficiently move our company forward while maintaining time in the day for our people to perform their jobs.
The book, Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni has given me many insights into running productive meetings and the impact that meetings – good or bad – can have on a company.
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