Operations meetings are critical for the successful growth of any organization. Just as cars need regular tune ups, your business needs regularly operations meetings. These meetings keep the entire team on the same page and lets the team implement actionable items that follow your big picture ideas..
Successful operations meetings answer the questions:
• How do we do this?
• How do we spend our resources?
• Where do we invest our resources?
• How do we work on a day-to-day basis?
Once the team has established a strategy and set objectives with a strategic meeting, it’s time to clarify how those objectives will be met by the people in your organization. Here are four checkpoints to use when planning your operations meetings.
Operations meeting should be regularly scheduled and start on time
It’s important to set a specific time and day of the week for the meeting. You want to make sure that people will be there and taking this disciplined approach will allow it to become a regular habit for the team members. The meetings also need to happen no matter what – no postponements or rescheduling ever. There is always a good reason to postpone a meeting, but since operations meetings are so important you need to be sure that they get done.
In addition to having a set day and time for the meeting, your meeting should start on time – every time. Don’t wait more than two minutes past the start time for stragglers. They will get the picture when they walk into the meeting already in progress and they’ll be sure to be on time for the next meeting.
In the same vein, you should always end the meeting on time – no exceptions. Keep to the schedule for the meeting and value your team members’ time. If there are issues or decisions that arise from the operations meeting and they can’t wait until the next operations meeting, schedule a new meeting immediately so you can end the meeting on time.
Have the same small group of participants
This is where a good manager can make the difference in the success of a meeting. You need to be clear about who absolutely needs to be in the meeting. The more people there are, the more white noise and non-critical conversations there are. With a small number of key people, you can expect there to be an 80%+ attendance rate. All of the invitees should bring their own action items, which will be worked into the agenda.
After a few meetings take place, you can find ways to exclude invitees whose behavior doesn’t match expectations. Often, these are executives who don’t really contribute and can be a source of distraction or, worse, totally disruptive. You need to find a way to gently kick them out so the meeting can stay productive.
Everyone in the meeting should be prepared
Send a proposed agenda for the meeting two days in advance. This is close enough to the meeting to give a sense of urgency but long enough to allow for changes to be made. Include action items from the previous meeting as a reminder for all participants. These can be corrected if necessary, but the issues and items from the last meeting need to be clarified or items will fall through the cracks. When you distribute the agenda, ask participants if there needs to be corrections.
Stick with the agenda and time, with no exception
Unlike strategic meetings, operations meetings don’t have room for brainstorming and open discussions. Review the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and allow for any modifications or additions, within reason. For example, if the changes are going to affect more than 20% of the meeting time, a different meeting should be scheduled for those items. Review the last meeting action item as a first agenda item, and then go through the issues systematically.
Meetings can be a waste of time, but they don’t have to be. By using these four checkpoints as you develop operations meetings for your business, you can move the entire organization forward toward your strategic successes.