Call it what you will – Management Team, Leadership Team, Senior Team, Business Team. You name it.
If there’s two or more of you in your organisation, division, department etc, you need to be having a regular meeting to manage and lead.
That’s what you’re there for, right?
Here’s what to do –
1. Meet for at least one day, and preferably two days, every quarter, or better still every two months. Get out of the office. Stay over at least for one night. Have dinner and drinks. You are in a senior position and you need the time be a team. This is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Yes, it costs money, but not nearly as much as it costs when you don’t have these meetings. That costs real money.
2. Have a standing agenda. It might look like this –
- Review minutes and actions of last meeting – led by Boss, 30 minutes.
You need to agree that the minutes are a fair reflection of what went on. Then you review the actions agreed at the meeting. Failure to complete an action should be such a rarity that when it does occur it’s actually slightly shocking. And the failure should not be a surprise to the boss, as the reason for failure should have been communicated to the boss beforehand. The reason must be genuine – things may have changed, it may not have been possible to achieve the goal for external reasons. Maybe something else has to happen first. These are good reasons.
“I didn’t get round to it” or “I’ve been really busy” are bad reasons. They are thinly veiled code for “I don’t respect my colleagues or my boss. I make promises that I don’t keep. I cannot manage myself and I suspect I’m probably not really a senior manager.”
- Operational Review – led by Operations Managers – 60 minutes each.
Operations are what turn your strategy into results. So you may have a few operations that matter – marketing, selling, R&D, various projects, manufacturing, logistics etc. This part of the meeting is, in the case of manufacturing, about how many blue widgets you said you’d make, how many you made, an explanation of the difference if there is one, and a heads up on any looming issues.
- Strategic Issues – led by X – 2 hours
You may need to discuss something strategic. For example, a capital expenditure proposal. Or a change to strategy. Or a competitive issue. Or just some great idea you’ve had.
- HR Issues – led by X – 60 minutes.
Take some time out to discuss those pesky people that work in the organisation. How’s the management development programme coming along? Who’s a star? Who’s struggling? Who needs a free transfer to Accrington Stanley?
- Any Other Business (AOB)
Like it says – anything else you need to discuss.
Also, notice each agenda item has a nominated lead and a time slot.
3. The boss should get the agenda out two weeks beforehand. Some agenda items, e.g. the strategic issues, may merit a pre-meeting paper to be written and circulated. The boss should make this clear when the agenda is circulated and the papers should be made available by the nominated author at least one week before the meeting.
4. During the meeting, have a scribe – someone to take the minutes. This is not onerous. It’s a brief note of key points, decisions and actions (what is to be done, by whom, by when). Minutes should be circulated within 24 hours of the meeting closing.
5. These Management Team meetings should be scheduled 12 months in advance. They are NEVER cancelled. EVER. If you’re on the senior team you attend. You do NOT take your holiday when a Management Meeting is scheduled unless you are either a) psychotically passive aggressive and/or b) this is your non-verbal way of saying “I want out”.
These meetings are mission critical. The Management Team steers the ship. Does the thinking. Takes the plaudits. And the rap. It’s leadership at the end of the day.
We’re talking about maybe 8 days a year. Three to four percent of the working days. In this time your team will develop the trust it needs. You will get over your fear of conflict so that you can genuinely commit to action and accept real accountability for your actions. Then, and only then, will you really perform.