How often do you walk away from your weekly managers meeting saying “Wow, that was a productive, forward-thinking meeting, and I am ready to confidently move ahead on the company’s key objectives?”
(Clock ticking… hmmmm?….) Maybe never?
It is a high objective for a meeting, but as the Level 10 facilitator, that is my hope for every meeting. I strive to make every meeting a level 10 meeting. To achieve this objective a simple, adaptive agenda and nimble approach is essential. An agenda provides a structured framework for the meeting. It provides focus and clarity, while helping to avoid tangents or a strong arm of discussion by the most vocal participant.
As in business, it is impossible to know exactly what direction courageous and transparent communication will go. Discussion and discovery might be the most valuable elements of the meetings. To allow for valuable discussion, sometimes a guideline is better than a step-by-step set of must dos.
I believe the best agendas are broad in categories and specific in data. They emphasize clarity, accountability, and problem solving. In some form of another, they contain the following key elements.
- Opening: Review of the person’s one company best accomplishment for the week and one personal highlight of the week. (10 minutes)
- Weekly, synoptic data reflecting company health: In his book “Traction” Gino Wickman refers to this as a scorecard. It is always forward looking. It captures data for easy review and reflects the most important key indicators of the company metrics for the week. It should include set, measurable data. (10 minutes)
- Accountability review of individual and company quarterly goals, benchmarks on path to annual goal: On track, or off Track (5 minutes)
- Accountability review of weekly company “to dos,” always searching for honest accountability: Done or Not Done— perhaps a brief reason for recalculating timeline (5 minutes)
- Issues to be resolved: Issues can be defined as opportunities to move on, information to be communicated, or problems resolved. This would include discussion of goals that are off track, or to-do’s that are undone. (30-60 minutes)
I believe each element of this agenda is vital. I believe the Opening and the Weekly Synopsis are difference makers. For the purposes of this blog, we will take a deep dive into the opening and the Scoreboard. It will be time well spent.
Level 10 Meetings: Opening
Unfortunately, I have found many managers will sacrifice an opening in the interest of efficiency and time. I believe that is a mistake. The opening is more than a vocal warm up is it is an essential exercise and tone setter for meeting. Consistently, I have witnessed when an energetic opening which search for the positive is well done, the meeting is better. Conversely when it is skipped, or flat, the quality of the meeting suffers. Social behavioral science validates this observation.
The Missing Tile Syndrome
Have you ever noticed when you look at a beautiful, classic period mosaic your eye is naturally drawn to the spot where a tile is missing. Dennis Prager, in his book Happiness is a Serious Problem, describes this as “The Missing Tile Syndrome”. Consider your reactions to events in your day. It is human nature to skip over what goes well and fixate on the one thing we can do better. A study published at Purdue University shows it takes 5 positive interactions to return to neutral after 1 negative interaction. (Side note—watch your customer service!)
Last week I taught a yoga class. Of course, I know my every flaw in the class and wonder if the class is beginning to consider me an imposter. After the class a woman came to up to me and told me that it was an awesome class. She was on a trial membership but after taking my class she was looking forward to joining the club and becoming a regular participant. My first thought was not to celebrate. I went straight to the missing tile. “Dang, now she will expect me to delivery that quality of class every dang time.”
Seriously? Why is it not natural for the human brain to celebrate good, before identifying a threat. I recognize the club employs me to bring in new members and to maintain current members. I also realize I am only as valuable as my last class. However, this capitalistic reality should not prevent me from celebrating a win! I provided an awesome yoga experience and elevated someone’s Zen. Behavioral Science tells us the more we are aware and identify wins the more likely it is we will win again.
The Tetris Effect
A study done at Harvard University by behavioral scientist Shawn Anchor submits one can train their brain to capitalize on the possibilities. Anchor calls it “The Tetris Effect”.
Harvard Medical School Department paid 27 people to play the video game Tetris, a shape fitting video game, for multiple hours a day, three days in a row. Days after the study concluded participants could not stop seeing shapes in a variety of everyday situations: building configurations, box layouts in the grocery store. Some even dreamed of falling shapes. They had literally trained their brains to see Tetris shapes.
Training the brain by consciously scanning your universe for the positive enables individuals to reframe their perspectives by focusing on opportunities rather than challenges. It actually primes the mind for positive outcomes. By habitually seeking positive patterns, we train our minds to see possibilities and solutions where others might only see problems. Additionally, it trains the brain to look for ways to adapt and bounce back from setbacks and encourages flexible thinking and the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated elements. This enhanced creativity can be applied to problem-solving and innovation in various domains.
The Opening is your Tetris moment. It builds resiliency. It broadens vision. It creates camaraderie. It is too valuable to skip.
Level 10 Meetings: The Scorecard
With your vision broadened in the opening, it is time now to review the snapshot of your company’s health. Many companies review company health data in retrospect, and only quarterly. A Profit and Loss Statement is a trailing indicator. You can’t change the past. You can affect the future. The Scorecard is a vital time-freeze- frame of your company’s health. It should be thoughtfully set up. Less, but significant metrics, is more.
Do not put too many items on your scorecard. It will dilute the power of the picture. Everyone in the meeting should have a metric they are responsible for, but not too many. 1-5 per person is enough. As you view the data remember the goal of this section of the meeting is to review a forward-looking report card of company health.
Imagine you have only one piece of paper with just a few data points on it. The information on this paper you must give you an accurate reflection of the current condition of the entire company and capture the heartbeat of the company’s health. This paper gives you all the information you need to lead the company forward.
What is on the paper?
Think of them as indicators to spot potential issues, accurately diagnosis root cause and find a cure before potential issues become actual problems.
- Weekly Revenue
- Sales Calls
- Closed Business
- Customer problems reported or resolved
- Customer rating
- Accounts Receivable
- Account Payroll
In the book Traction, by Gino Wickman he recommends 5-15 metrics, aiming closer to the 5.
Your Scorecard should be directly tied to your One-Year Plan and should show patterns and trends. The Scorecard should be a weekly accounting so you can act when you see a trending problem, and not react after it is evident. Pick the metric you want to measure, and then roll it back to its beginning state. If you want to measure leads generated, roll back how you obtained the leads: website activity, phone activity, cold call. You decide how far you want to roll back and what will give you a leading metric to measure before you see the lead generation dropping off.
The Scorecard is a proactive tool to help you anticipate problems before they actually happen. As you set up the Scorecard do not be afraid to let it evolve over a few months. You will know when you have it because your confidence in decision making will increase. You will have a pulse on your business health. You will feel a desire to grow and look for new revenue sources. You will know where to spend your resources to fix potential problems.
Committing to these 15 minutes of your meeting agenda will significantly change the dynamics of your meeting. Be thoughtful setting up your Scorecard. Train your brain to look for possibilities, identify trends and to be nimble and resilient. See things in ways you have not viewed before. Don’t force the shapes into position. Guide them with forward thinking.
You will feel a difference in the culture of your meeting and your company.