I Love Status Update Meetings

“Yay, it’s time for the weekly project status (or pipeline, or receivables) review meeting,” said no one. Ever. The vast majority of attendees at weekly review meetings find them to be boring, inefficient, soapboxes for blowhards, kinda’ fun when there’s a fight, but generally just a waste of time.

Believe it or not, weekly meetings can be really helpful to an organization if they address important areas like culture / cohesion, skill development, accountability, messaging, planning, and coordination.

Here’s how to make weekly meetings good meetings:

Make the meeting beneficial
It’s really easy to call a meeting because you want everyone to weigh in on or hear about a topic efficiently. But before you call it, consider the following:

  • What’s the purpose of the meeting? What result are you looking for?
  • Why will the larger audience (not you, them) benefit?
  • What types of actions are you expecting from the meeting?
  • Why are you willing to cost the company so much money (salaries for meeting attendees)?
  • Is a meeting necessary?

Make the meeting interesting
Want folks to care, show up on time, and participate? Give ‘em reasons to. Aspire to hear employees say:

  • “I feel part of a team. I feel connected.”
  • “We’re always learning.”
  • “It helps me make sense of why we do what we do.”
  • “It’s a good way to step back and look at what we’re doing, to stop and think.”

Collect data outside of meetings
Make it easy for management to know what’s going on, get answers to their questions, better inform decision-making, and avoid wah-wahhhh meetings.

  • Ask employees to submit a 4-10 bullet point email once a week, summarizing actions / results from the past week and actions / goals for the upcoming week. Compile and distribute.
  • Update CRM and Accounting software pretty much obsessively. Make data entry and reporting increasingly streamlined and efficient.

(Building the discipline for the above is not easy, but it goes a long way towards running a business smarter and more efficiently.)

Make the meeting participatory
With separate reporting of details, the meeting can be more conversational / interactive. Focus the agenda on each attendee telling one or two stories. Sample topics:

  • A technique (sales, programming, consulting, etc.) recently used and results
  • Why I’m excited about this specific client or project opportunity, and this is what we’re doing to crush it (if you don’t know “crush it,” it’s a good thing)
  • Market intell I want to share
  • The gory details about a recent loss or failure; what’d we learn from the experience

You can still do a classic droning, line-item review once a month, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. And management should still do a regularly scheduled review of revenue, the sales pipeline, executed work, capacity planning, and resource allocation. If the data’s always available it’s easy for management to be disciplined and efficient.

When you keep your meetings focused and think in terms of why the assembled crowd will care, you are far more likely to hear, “That was really helpful. That was a smart way to address our issue. Thank you.”

On-line sleuthing on status update meetings confirms they aren’t popular. One of the more lucid posts was this one from Inc. which espouses written summaries over status update meetings.

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