James: James Schramko here from SuperFastBusiness.com. I have Kat Jarman from YourOnlineTeam.com. Hey, Kat!
James: Kat, you’ve got a lot of experience helping business owners sort out their team and get some structure and make things right with the service that you offer. And I’m just wondering when it comes to meetings, do you have some suggestions or tips for business owners to make meetings run a little smoother or be a little more interesting? Love to know what your thoughts are on how often you should have them and who should be there, and if there’s any kind of structure that you love. Because you’ve seen so many different businesses now and you’ve worked with lots of different entrepreneurs, are there any trends or patterns we should know about?
Kat: Yeah, I feel like with team meetings, there’s two types of business owners – ones that hate having them and just don’t do them, and the ones that do them but they spend the whole meeting like brainstorming their latest idea, or whatever shiny objects call their fancy that week. I’m guilty of that.
But what I find with team meetings is that they can waste a lot of time if you’re not careful. So in our business, one of the things that we did is we decided, yes, we want to have them because we think they’re important for team morale and just getting everybody on the same page once a week.
So once a week, usually on a Monday, is when I like to do team meetings. We make sure that everybody knows what their action steps are and what they’re accountable for, for the coming week. Now, these can take a while depending on how big your team is. And one of the best things that we did was started to hold our meetings on a free Zoom account which only gives you 45 minutes. So no matter what, you’re all getting kicked off at the 45-minute mark.
James: So, basically, using a deadline is the technique there.
Kat: Yeah, yeah. And everybody says, Okay, we’ll just jump on for half an hour. And it never works out that way. So if you actually have something like technology-related that is totally going to boot everybody off at the 45-minute mark, I actually wish it was half an hour, because that would be a lot better. That means that you’re more concise. Hopefully, you’ve got some sort of agenda that you like to stick with every week. And you’ll stick to that if you know you have a time limit.
And then I think one of the most important tips that I could give is for the business owner, I had to learn this myself, is again to not use your team meetings as a brainstorming session or a “How’s about my latest idea, guys, what do you think?” type of session. That can be a different meeting, I think. And that will solve your frustration. A lot of the time, if a business owner is frustrated about their team meetings, it’s because they are not doing it properly. It’s not the team, it’s actually you.
James: Yeah, totally agree. If you don’t have a free Zoom account and a 45-limit, you can always use a watch with a timer. I just got back from a few weeks in the Maldives, and I used a timer to partition our one-hour calls that we did or one-hour group discussions. And having that take advantage of Parkinson’s Law, which is work expands to fit the time available, was really helpful.
And certainly, in our own team, we found meeting once a week is good for me, the business owner. I want to keep my finger on the pulse. I don’t want to drain people from meetings. I can see what’s going on in my business from daily activity reports in Slack, etc. And you can have one-to-one discussions to brainstorm things. I agree with you, routine is great. We have a format, and we all have a turn. And usually, our meetings take about 12, 15 minutes. We have a small team of six and they all know exactly what they’re doing.
I also think there is an element where it’s good as the business owner to explain where the company’s at a macro level, to just give that overview and to create a psychologically-safe workplace where they know the business is performing well. They’re encouraged about the things that are coming down the track, and it’s exciting and interesting. And then the meeting can take the format of how everyone’s going to support that over the next week, essentially. And of course, if someone has a deeper discussion item, it’s important that whoever’s facilitating the meeting, doesn’t get dragged off track and waste the whole meeting on that. You can easily say let’s park that to the side, and I’ll speak to one-to-one straight after the meeting. And you can move through with the rest of the group.
There’s a couple of tips I’ve thrown in there from my own meetings. We’re having a meeting coming up in the next week, what tip would you give a business owner to try and do differently than perhaps the average way people run meetings?
Kat: Actually, I like what you just said there about making sure that you go big picture with the team for a little bit. Because sometimes we forget that they’re probably doing work that’s not super exciting, sometimes it can be a bit tedious, maybe they’re a bit stressed. And just stopping and going big picture with them once a week, enroll them back in the vision, get them excited, make them remember what they’re here for. I actually think that’s a really, really good idea and very overlooked.
James: Yeah, and I’ve also found if we’re talking about our major initiative right now, like where that fits into the puzzle, like they can get deep in the weeds, like they’re coding out a new site or something, it’s nice to see where does that fit into our journey. And it shows that this is a necessary stage for the greater big picture. But also they get a sense of what sort of contribution and, importantly, everyone else in the team can support that. So if they’re not working on that project, they know that it’s happening and they can be conscious that their team members going to be quite involved in a complex activity for short bursts, so they could leave them alone or find other ways to get things done if that person was the person who normally is involved in a part of a project that they’re needed for.
Then I found that it’s kind of like neural pathways being built. My team seems to be able to load balance activities because everyone knows exactly what’s happening every week. And the last thing you want for a meeting is just for it to be the owner having an out-loud brain fart that confuses people and when they hang up, they think, what was that all about?
Kat: I’m sure I’ve done that to my team many, many times and I try really hard not to.
James: I always go into the next meeting and I make a couple of notes so that I don’t bother my team with things in between. If it’s not critical, I just park it for the meeting. And that’s where we can talk about a new way to capture opt-ins or a new campaign we want to do around YouTube, promotions, etc. I’m not going to burden those in-between, I’ll just save them up so that we can talk about those initiatives and then get the stakeholders and auction out jobs within the teams to align the interests. And it’s worked really well for us. I think they actually look forward to the meeting.
Kat: And that’s the benchmark.
James: And also, I think it’s good to have it at a consistent time and day, every single week. And I’ll usually avoid Mondays or Fridays, because I think some people don’t love coming to work on Monday and everyone’s sort of mentally fatigued by Friday. So Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday have worked really well for me as meeting days.
Kat: That’s interesting. I’d be interested to try a Tuesday. I’m going to give that a shot.
James: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Kat, for sharing. And good luck with your next meeting if you’re watching this, and let us know how it goes.
Kat: Thanks, James.
Take the stress out of managing your business with Your Online Team
See our products HERE