In a rapidly growing business, there is so much to accomplish every single day. The last thing you want to do is waste time in unproductive meetings. Many well-meaning leaders, feeling the pressure to produce, discover that skipping out on team meetings or canceling them all together is an easy way to buy back some much-needed time. But what does it cost you?
As the founder or CEO of the business, any decision has to make its way back to you.
That works for a while. For a young business, it is incredibly efficient, but then one day, it doesn’t. As a business grows, there will be more people, more products (or services), and more problems. For the founder, this becomes a nightmare.
Tell me if you’ve ever had an experience like this. I know I have.
The path to meaningless meetings
It’s late on Friday night after a hectic week, but you’re still at the office. You’re expecting a big deal to close, and you’re hoping to hear from the client before you head out for the weekend. You need a win right now.
You open your email to see if they’ve responded, and there are still one hundred unread emails from today alone. Half of them are marked “urgent,” but none of them are from the client. You pull out your phone, wondering if they may have called and left a voicemail, but there’s nothing in there from the last three weeks. (You don’t realize it at the time, but it’s because your voicemail has been full for the previous three weeks.)
You decide to wait a little longer and use the time thumbing through your text messages. What you find isn’t pretty. All those people who emailed and called but couldn’t get an answer have started texting you as well. It’s just one problem after another. Instead of getting that win you were hoping for, you just wasted two hours of your life and feel like you are further behind than you were two hours ago.
You realize something needs to change.
The first team
So you pull together a few of your key managers and tell them they need to step up. You offload some of your responsibilities, and it feels incredible. They feel proud of their new authority. It’s a win-win.
The problem is, they aren’t you. Despite their best efforts, they don’t make decisions the way you do. After a few false starts, you realize what you’ve been missing.
Leadership team meetings.
You can get everyone in one place, answer their questions, and then have everyone leave you alone. You decide to meet weekly with your team.
It’s a little awkward at first because no one (including you) knows how to run a productive leadership team meeting. Soon enough, it turns into the worst hour of the week. It’s nothing but problems and bickering. Every time you bring a new idea, it’s shot down.
Then a client needs a meeting at the same time as the leadership team meeting, and it hits you. “They don’t need me for the meeting this week. I’ll stay out of their way, and I’ll be able to meet with our client.” Another win-win.
That one meeting turns into two and then 10. While the team keeps meeting, you are there less and less often. Without you, your leadership team isn’t able to make any real decisions. At some point, you realize the whole meeting thing isn’t right for you.
You cancel the meeting altogether, and everyone is relieved—another win-win.
But there’s a problem. As much as you don’t want to admit it, you can’t keep up. And your managers won’t say it, but they are struggling as well. Unfortunately, the only way most founders find out their team members are struggling is when they resign.
Here’s the truth. If you aren’t meeting with your key leaders as a team each week (or at least every other week), someone is going to burn out. Even if they don’t, you and your team will eventually find you are spending most of your time putting out fires instead of making progress toward your goals and moving your company forward.
If you pull it off and keep winning without meetings, what is that going to do to your inbox and your schedule? The only way up is to do more and more, and like it or not, there is only so much of you to go around.
If your top team is confused, makes bad decisions, or makes no decisions at all, what will that do to your company’s productivity? It will come to a halt while everyone works harder than ever. Where enthusiasm and passion used to abound, you’ll be more likely to find apathy and angst.
If you lose a leader or burn yourself out, what will that do to the goals and ambitions you have for your company? It’s going to slow them down at best. At worst, you’ll have to give up on them altogether.
The solution is quite simple. You need to meet with your team regularly (once every week or every two weeks). This time, however, you’re going to up the productivity of those meetings, and you’re going to use them to get ahead, not just clean up one mess after another.
Here are three things you need to do to boost your meetings’ productivity and free your time and mental energy for what matters most.
- When – Be consistent
- What – Follow an agenda
- Who – Get the right people in the room
In the next article, we’ll look at each of these points, and I’m going to give you some handy tools and tips. If you use them, not only will your meetings become more productive than ever, you may even catch yourself enjoying them!
Until then, here’s what I want you to do. Open up your calendar and schedule your next three leadership team meetings. It will take less than 5 minutes, and it will be the start of a brand new era of productivity and enjoyment for you and your team.
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