Barry Horwitz shares a few tips on how to improve communication between the front line and top executives when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse.
In her book, “Seeing Around Corners,” Rita McGrath notes that insights at the “edges” of an organization — close to the customers but far from the executive suite — can take a long time to reach the top of the food chain, if they get there at all.
This can be problematic for a number of reasons, but it’s particularly troublesome when it relates to the development of a strategic plan.
Here, communication in both directions between the front line and top executives is essential. Not only does this ensure that everyone feels engaged and part of the process, but it also uncovers critical information that may be otherwise overlooked, while limiting the likelihood of important stakeholders being surprised by the final plan.
All fine and good. But when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse, it may be easier said than done. It’s not like you can fit everyone into a conference room and hammer out a strategy over lunch. Under these circumstances, the “Town Hall” meeting format can be especially effective.
Direct Participation at All Levels
As the name suggests, the idea of a business Town Hall meeting originated in American politics as a way for political leaders — who were literally standing in a town hall — to speak to, and more importantly, hear from their constituents on current issues. During the Jack Welch era, General Electric was well known for using the concept to connect its senior executives to groups of employees for the same purpose.
I’ve used this approach as well in my work. For example, during the strategic planning process for a state university, we were able to successfully engage nearly 1,000 people using this format. This was an organization with many diverse stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, alumni, etc.), and the Town Hall gave participants a chance to have unfiltered, firsthand knowledge of what was being discussed and considered and, if they chose, to have direct input into the overall strategy.
But it does take some planning and an appreciation of the fact that these are not simply meetings to inform about decisions already made. To be most effective, they need to be interactive and informative, with senior leadership in particular genuinely open to feedback and input from all levels of the organization.
Key points include:
- Setting the stage
- Responding to challenges
- Post-meeting input
Read the full article, How to Run a “Town Hall” Meeting, on HorwitzandCo.com.
Xavier Lederer shares a purposeful post that offers practical steps that can be taken to maximize the efficacy of meetings when the goal is executing the priorities of a strategy.
Many of us hate meetings. Many regular meetings are boring and ineffective indeed. They don’t have the right agenda (or no agenda at all), are not well facilitated, and don’t accomplish much.
Yet the right meetings lead to faster and better decision-making, increase accountability throughout the organization, and improve communication. In short: efficient meetings get your quarterly priorities accomplished. Together with aligning your leadership team around the top 2 to 3 quarterly priorities and measuring what matters, implementing a consistent meeting and communication rhythm enables you to focus and execute on your strategic plan.
How do you go from boring meetings to impactful meetings? Start with a good planning and communication rhythm with your leadership team, which ideally includes 5 meetings:
- Daily huddle.
- Weekly accountability meeting.
- Monthly check-in and education session.
- Quarterly planning and education session.
- Annual planning retreat.
Each of these meetings has a different goal with a different agenda. The key is to maintain the discipline to stick to the agenda and the goal of each meeting. When you do not, meetings get too long, become ineffective, and people start skipping them. For example: While it can be tempting to discuss strategic changes in a daily or weekly meeting, this is not the right place: table this until your next quarterly meeting.
Key points include:
- Synchronizing the team
- Moving the strategy forward
- Aligning key priorities
Read the full post, Meeting rhythm: the key to consistently executing on your strategic priorities, on ambrosegrowth.com.
If you have ever wondered why your messaging is misconstrued or find that you lapse into cliches at meetings, help is at hand. Bernie Heine identifies what not to say, why not, and what to say instead.
Two Must-Do Guidelines and Five Clichés to Avoid.
Strategic Review or any meeting
Your strategic review is a rare opportunity to take an objective overview perspective on your business. It is a time for questioning assumptions and a space in which to encourage creativity and involvement. It is not a place for rigid thinking or hackneyed business phrases. In the ideal business world, all meetings should accomplish one or more of four things. They should 1) Generate new ideas to add value. 2) Share information. 3) Build a common purpose and buy-in. 4) Plan what to do to solve current problems and roadblocks.
At your strategic timeout, you should focus on things 1 to 3 with these two goals in mind…
- Doing better before doing cheaper.
“Miracle worker” businesses consistently search for ideas to compete on factors other than price. See our newsletter 3 Rules for Exceptional Business Performance or the video below.
Typical factors, other than price, that take your business to exceptional profit are durability, functionality, brand, style, etc. Your customers don’t see it on the invoice, but they really appreciate getting it.
- Revenue before costs.
Cutting costs and or shedding assets are too often the default paths taken by “average Joe” businesses. At your strategic review, be sure to put revenue first. In the long run, “miracle worker” businesses can charge premium prices while giving greater apparent value to custom.
Phrases identified in this article include:
- Don’t bring me problems. I want solutions!
- I’ll get back to you on that.
- In my opinion…
- Keep doing what you’re doing.
- We need to think outside the box
Read the full post, Five Things NOT to Say at Your Strategic Review (or at any meeting), on the The Professional Business Coaches website.
Aneta Key lightens the mood for the day with these tongue-in-cheek video conference tips.
Many of us are so accustomed to videoconferencing, we take it for granted. But with the COVID-19 pandemic shift to remote work, a whole lot of professionals worldwide are just now being introduced to this genre of workplace interactions.
This blog post will offer something for veterans and newbies alike. In a true iterative fashion, I will add to it over time.
- Productive direction
- How to make it engaging
Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.
We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.
The strategies explained include:
- Restating the point
- Recapping the options
- Identifying the key factors
Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.