If the accept or decline button on your meeting invite could talk what would it say? “Staff Meeting!? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Or some days it might say: “I’m bored and feeling lonely. I don’t want to make a decision. I know…I’ll call a meeting! I can eat donuts, show YouTube videos, point with a pointer and impress my co-workers”.
In the past our company has been like a bit like both these two memes. Some staff meetings were four hours long, and with no issues resolved, or “to-dos” accounted for. We had an agenda. We mostly started the agenda, but typically we veered off topic and no one felt they had permission to steer us back. There wasn’t a clear vision of where we were going anyway.
There was just enough side talk to allow multi-tasking, but not enough to completely disengage, so items were often revisited and repeated, or completely forgotten.
Centering your Meetings to Your Vision
Entrepreneurial Operating Systems
Executives consider more than 67% of meetings to be failures.
Ouch – when you consider the amount of time and money your company spends on meetings, this is even more painful. Inc.com
Calling a meeting is easy. Making a meeting meaningful takes quite a bit more effort. A great agenda can be a wonderful tool or map to guide a meeting, but even the best map is only useful if it is a map of where you want to go. (Read: Vision)
If you want to begin having forward thinking business changing meetings, you need to take a step back, or three or four steps and do some hard prep work.
Today let’s start with The Vision. Ask yourself (or your team) if…
Your company has defined its vision, starting with your core values?
Do your employees understand and “see” the vision?
As an entrepreneur, you have been chosen to champion the vision. It is your vision.
You became the culture, or an embodiment of your company’s values. However, as you begin to scale you can’t be everywhere, nor do you want to be everywhere. It is a wonderful tribute to you to have your influenced felt throughout the company; however, it is just control if you feel the need to personally execute the influence.
Leaders have so many things to do, taking the time to pause and defining company’s core values might seem unimportant, even cliché.
“Mission Statements” and “Whys” have been workplace buzz words over the last 30 years . Are the still relevant? Most entrepreneurs have a strong sense of their values and where they want to go. Usually, they can communicate vision to their leadership team effectively enough to motivate the inner circle and keep them moving in the same direction, but when it comes time to scale, or releasing control of key functions, the vision gets blurry.
Mission Statements, Vision Statements, or Whys can create focus.
On his podcast, “Accidental Creative”:, Todd Henry says, “Influence is leading by vision, but control is leading by sight. When your goal is to grow your influence over time you are working toward a long-arc goal, and you’re willing to accept some short-term failures in order to achieve success in the end.”
Quoting Dee Hock–founder of Visa, “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.” (1)
If your company has a set of core values, it might be interesting to see how many of your senior management team can name your core values. How many of their reports can recite the company’s core values? It might be too much to expect all employees to be able to recite the company’s values (nor do you want them to robotically recite a memorized list) but you know you have a strong company culture and brand if most employees can passionately, accurately and briefly summarize values. Even better when the employee is presented with the company values for the first time their response is, “oh yeah, that makes sense.”
In his book Traction, Get a Grip on your Business, Gino Wickman suggests your business defines a “small set of vital and timeless guiding principles. 3-7 of them.” He suggests they already exist in the culture of every business; they just need to be Identified.
Likely, as an entrepreneur and visionary, they are embodied in you and few key employees, after all you are the designers of the company. Wickman suggestion to discover your core values you look at a few employees you wish you could clone and identify traits and values that make them remarkable. After listing a few, common themes might appear. Perhaps you created a long list but with some wordsmithing can you encapsulate meanings of a few traits into one.
For example, one of ABT’s company values is “Customer Focused.” If we approach a problem or opportunity being “customer focused” we will look at the needs of prospective customers first, and try to fulfill their needs, not just get a sale.
We will be creative problem solvers for them—CIA: Creative, Innovative and Adaptable is another value. We will focus on the customer as we brainstorm. We will listen and identify the real issue behind a problem, looking for multiple ways to save them money while improving efficiencies with our solutions.
We will examine their business as a whole and through their eyes. We will empathize with the customer as they present barriers to our agreements and look for win/win solutions. Most customers want us to win with them and are very reasonable if with demonstrate we are first focused on their need. They see our excitement to work with them, and become excited to work with us. Empathy has been our greatest too. All of these tools for problem-solving stem from the company value “Customer Focused.” These two words are loaded with meaning and power.
Automated Business Technology’s core values:
- CIA (creative Innovative Adaptable
- Customer Focused
- DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do)
Another Solutions company I have worked with settled on these values:
- Customer First
- Do Good
We circled around “Do Good” for a while. This is a small family and community-oriented business solutions company. They want to be a force in their community, not just financially, but culturally. They want to “Do Good” for themselves.
Of course, they want a profit, but is that a core value? Gino Wickman says it should not be. They want to Do Good for their families, one just had a daughter get into a prestigious performing arts summer program in New York City.
He is passionate about helping her fulfill her dreams. That is good. They will not forget each employee has a purpose and dream, a desire to “Do Good”, for their families and the community the are creating by engaging. As they offer solutions to other companies in their community, their “Do Good” culture can grow. Who would not want to go to work in a company that when asked “What do you do?” you can answer. “Good.” What is the purpose of this meeting? To encourage and “Do Good.”
Once your values are defined, they need to be brought to life and embodied into company. This will take time, and repetition. It starts with a roll out presenting values in a way everyone can catch the vision. There are many ways to do that, from speeches, company skits, one on one. But the idea is to allow people to see what you are saying.
This exercise needs to be repeated. It will take time. Wickman suggests quarterly all company meetings to keep Traction and to reinforce values.
Another company I work with presents their values, usually with a skit or video, in a yearly all staff meeting: Integrity, Stewardship, Teamwork, Exceptional Service, Continual Improvement.
Embracing the Vision in Recruiting
Once vision is established much comes into focus. Your core values should be the guiding force of your company. Wickman suggests when evaluating an employee, one should consider a value match before a skill match. Of course, you need to evaluate if the employee or potential employee has the “capacity to do the job. Wants to do the job, and understands the job,” but if the answer to those questions is yes, move on to values. If values do not fit, Wickman recommends you do not move forward with hire, or consider having a candid conversation with the current employee. In most cases misfits will resolve with mutually agreeable solutions.
Core values is the first step to productive forward-thinking meetings. With a vision of where you are going you can begin using the tools to get you there. In future blogs we will continue to discuss and teach your tools to increase your bottom line, including creating the pulse of a meeting with will drive growth and success.
Our community would love to hear from you. What are your core values? What tools did you use to define them? How do you teach them and keep them alive? Please engage with us. Solutions are our business. Lets look for solutions together.