To propel a company toward the future and not just focus on the day-to-day challenges, creating consistent internal communications meetings is a tool for every leader to master. Maybe only one of these tips is what you need right now or possibly four of them. Whether you are a seasoned team or just getting started, consider these 10 tips and strategies to improve your business results from creating formal internal communication meetings.
A key to increasing a person or a team’s performance is to get their input.
Input = Buy-In
The more input you get, the more output you’ll get from the team.
1. Make every attempt to have a meeting on a scheduled day. Consistency is key to allow each participant to know ahead of time that a meeting will take place. Everyone can be better prepared. This improves everyone’s time management practices.
2. If you have varied business cycles, honor the meeting dates despite being busy. Many times when you are the busiest is when you need to communicate the most. Any alteration in a meeting date needs a minimum of a 24-hour notice for all participants. A 48-hour notice is even better. If using email to inform, require manual feedback, not automated.
3. For each meeting, prepare a written topical agenda. To prepare the agenda, each department leader should offer specific topics to be discussed and submitted two days before the meeting so it can be included on the meeting agenda. Give the agenda to each person at least one day, preferably two days, before the meeting date. The written topics/questions need to have a few spaces under each one so that everyone can write out the action statement and initial of the person responsible for taking action.
4. Each department manager should ask their staff for input on the agenda. When the meeting is over, the manager should then report back to the team and inform them of the status of issues and any new developments. This begins to eliminate gaps in communications to other front line or support staff.
5. Start the meeting on time and end on time. Even when the conversations get going, it is still important to start and end on time. Keep an eye on the clock for 15-minute intervals. Let it be known that time is running out, and the specific topic needs to be tabled or solved (at least tentatively).
6. Allow no interruptions as much as possible. Shut off cell phones and tell the receptionist to hold all calls. Laptops should be closed unless it’s needed for the meeting. If someone is late for the meeting, don’t recap for them. If you recap a message is sent to the other participants that it’s okay to be late; they always bring you up to date and get special attention. Respect everyone’s time by keeping the meeting flowing.
7. During the meeting itself, let each person talk about the particular topic. Ask them to be precise and not to vary from the original topic. It is your responsibility to facilitate and ensure each person stays on track. When needed, kindly and with a smile, ask them to get back on track with the original topic. Stay away from spin-off topics and make a note about them for future meetings.
8. At the close of the meeting, have people verbalize specifically what they will do concerning the topics discussed. Take it one item at a time and one person at a time. The concept here is that if each person truly understands their role in making the changes and announced it “in public”, they are more likely to complete the task. This helps everyone become more responsible for their role in whatever topic is raised.
9. Once everyone writes out the action statement on the agenda, this becomes a sort of meeting minutes. It is important to document what is happening so, as needed, the information can be shared across departments or divisions to cross-pollinate knowledge and inform or build consensus.
10. If you can cover three topics in each group meeting, great, but if you see that you have five on the list and you only cover three, make the next meeting topic four. Always judge the number of topics to be included in the meeting by the group’s speed to talk about them and promote the solutions properly. You may need to adjust this due to the complexity of topics, group participation, and time allotment.
To achieve operational excellence, consistent formal and informal communications are essential to master. Either you are working to achieve operational excellence, or you are not. You can’t fake it.