One of the biggest challenges many organisations have regarding communication is in relation to meetings.
There are either too many or not enough of them; and the people who attend them often feel it is a big waste of time to be there.
But it does not have to be like that because a good meeting rhythm improves company communication.
Start with your frontline people and their supervisors. They should gather every single day at the same time to have a quick stand-up daily huddle — with only three items on the agenda:
1) What’s up?
The group simply needs to know what each person is dealing with that day (and this might include anyone leaving early, having a birthday, attendance at meetings), so that it sets the tone for the huddle.
But it also reminds the group members that someone needs to be covered while they are away or that someone needs help in some way, as well as what events are due for celebration and acknowledgement.
2) Brief report
Next, have a quick review of progress in terms of what is being measured. For example, “Are we on target or not?”
3) Any blocks?
Finally, discuss briefly what is looming as a potential problem or hold-up.
If something needs to be further addressed, then it can be done in a separate meeting. More importantly, it has been identified early enough not to become a bigger issue.
This is also a great way of addressing any bottlenecks, systems or procedures that may not be working.
This is not a problem-solving forum but a great way of heading off potential issues before they arise, while ensuring communication flows throughout the group and further throughout the company.
You may think that meeting like this is a waste of time; after all what if you see one another all the time anyway?
But for that very reason, formalising the flow of information means things don’t get missed — and I wish to stress this again — these are short, focused, five-minute gatherings.
These “huddles” should be supported by a weekly, 30-minute department meeting, where significant issues are raised and dealt with in a more formal setting.
Again, what is discussed should be limited to what’s on the agenda and to a dedicated time limit.
The formal weekly meeting’s agenda is simple:
1. Good news shared by everyone — 30 seconds each maximum — this sets the tone for the meeting.
2. Numbers and measures for the week.
3. Customer and/or employee feedback.
4. Any one significant issue.
5. A very brief closing comment from everyone present.
The one significant issue is usually related to the quarterly priorities that are tied into the growth strategy of the company.
Items 3 and 4 may take up to two-thirds of the meeting time.
By keeping the daily huddles going every day, issues usually don’t become big enough to make it to the end of the week. So they don’t waste valuable meeting time seeking a resolution.
A well-oiled and maintained machine doesn’t have reason to stall. The daily huddle is the oil; the weekly meeting is the maintenance.
Repeat the same process throughout the company, all the way up to senior management.
Remember, this is about identifying potential issues and solving problems, thereby taking up valuable time on a daily basis.
The secret is to take anything that is not on the agenda into a direct resolution space by meeting separately with those who are involved in the issue — not wasting everyone else’s time during lengthy meetings.
When communication flows throughout the company via the meeting rhythm concept, there are fewer fires to put out and more management time is spent on growth and strategy matters.
Best of all, you will notice an increase in productivity — all because of better communication.
Article by Maria Carlton, an international speaker with Training Edge International. She is a business transformation specialist who helps companies to improve their business performance through improved communication strategies. For details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com