How to Run Valuable Weekly Meetings That Don’t Suck

Leadership
People & Culture
Systems & Operations

Let’s face it – no one likes meetings. But done right, running a weekly meeting with your team can help drive accountability and results. And when that happens, everyone wins.

 

Why Should You Run Weekly Meetings? 

Every single one of our clients runs weekly meetings. A weekly meeting is a scheduled gathering that (ideally) happens on the same day, at the same time, and in the same place each week. It’s an opportunity for your team to check in, provide updates on everything they’re accountable for, and make sure everyone is on track. 

Ultimately, it allows you to work together and leverage the genius of the group to be able to make decisions and drive things forward. In the Scaling Up framework, this is called the leadership team meeting. In the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), it is known as a Level 10 Meeting. Done correctly, this meeting can significantly reduce the number of other meetings you need to have and help your team gel.

 

Who Should Attend Weekly Meetings?

Every team in the business should have a weekly meeting, starting with the leadership team and cascading down from there. Once the weekly leadership team meeting is done, each one of those leaders can go and have weekly meetings with their own teams.

You don’t want meetings to get too crowded, so you need to limit them to people who have accountabilities that report back to the team in question. Who attends will depend on your business size and structure. 

At the leadership level, it’s a cross-functional team. You’ll have each of the main leaders inside the business attend so they can report on their respective departments or accountability area. Then, you may have all the supervisors or managers within each department (say, IT) meet. Or, if you have a small business, the team meeting may include everyone. 

 

Tips for How to Run Productive Weekly Meetings That Your Team Will Enjoy (Or at Least Not Hate) From a Business Strategy Consultant

Set a Meeting Agenda and Stick to It

The agenda should stay the same from week to week and even from team to team. Why? Because this is a key execution discipline that you want deeply ingrained in the business. If the agenda is different each week, it will never become ingrained.

It may be ever so slightly different depending on the team, but generally speaking, it stays the same. Think of it as intentionally keeping the agenda predictable and boring so that the content of the meeting can become exciting! 

Imagine you’re responsible for providing an update for an area you are accountable for. If you know what to expect, you can focus on doing updates exceptionally well each week, instead of worrying about a new and different format. The rest of the tips focus on what your agenda should be.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #1: The Check-In (5 minutes)

Briefly ask each member of the team how they’re doing, and have them share a big win from the last week to start the meeting with a positive state of mind. Using a 1 to 5 rating or limiting responses to one word is a good way to maintain the tempo of the meeting. This should not take more than 15 to 30 seconds per person.

Here’s a hint – when someone says they’re feeling crappy, that gives you a chance to exercise empathy and be aware they’re having a challenging day. It is not a time to engage in a back-and-forth that throws off the rhythm of the meeting. It is valuable information that allows you to filter how you interpret the information you get from that person during the meeting.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #2: Discussion About Living Your Culture (5 minutes)

This step is critical for weaving elements of your culture into your organizational DNA. The business leader will have picked a core value, a behaviour, or an element of their purpose that’s important to have a discussion around. They may explain why it matters to them and why it’s important.

The next step is to ask the group a question about this core value (or whatever element they have picked). For instance, you might ask “where have you seen this value lived really well in this organization?”, or “how does this value impact our customers?”.  

This is an incredibly powerful exercise for creating alignment around an element of your culture. Instead of doing a 2-hour training session during which you tell them about it, this sparks an interactive discussion that encourages reflection. 

Repetition matters, which is why doing this for 5-7 minutes weekly is far more effective. Pick a different value or different element of that value each week. When you’ve gone through all the values, do it again – there’s always a new angle to examine!

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #3: Action Item Review (5 minutes)

During this part of the meeting, it’s important to have your accountability system up and visible to everyone. Whether this is a project management tool, a spreadsheet, or something else, you must be able to see the actions and rocks being tracked.

This is where you review actions from the previous meeting that were to be done by this date and make sure that they’ve been done. By the way, action items are tasks that should be doable within a week. 

This part of the meeting is a crucial step in creating a culture of accountability in your business. You’re making it public whether people are doing the things they said they would do.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #4: Updates and Key Metrics (5 minutes)

Company-wide updates should be shared at the leadership level weekly meeting, and then this information will filter down to each team. This saves you from running a separate meeting just for one update with multiple people.

The next part of this session is a dashboard review of key metrics. Depending on the amount of data you cycle, you may want to alternate department reports by week (ex. Getting a sales update one week, and a production update another week). Like the previous agenda items, this is a FAST status update to gauge where you are by looking at a one-page dashboard.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #5: Quarterly Priority Review (10 minutes)

This step is where many of my clients stumble (you’ll see why in the below section about meeting facilitator tips). The quarterly priority review requires prep work to be done in advance. Rocks must be updated in the accountability system before the meeting.

You’ll go through each rock one by one. You pull it up on the screen and ask a simple question: ‘what’s the status of this rock?’. There are three possible answers:

  • It’s on track (all good!)
  • It’s off track (I need help!)
  • It’s recoverable (slightly off track, but it will be on track by next week)

This whole process should take no more than 15 to 30 seconds per rock. This is not the time to stop and ask why. In an average-sized business, the rock review should take around 10 minutes. If it takes longer, you should question your pacing.

Hint: if you have accountability problems around rocks and “on track” vs. “off track” is subjective, chances are, you have failed to create an execution plan. If there’s an execution plan, the answer is already there.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #6: Collective Intelligence (30-60 minutes)

In this part of the meeting, it’s time to slow the pace down slightly. Until now you’ve been a bit of a drill sergeant to move through the updates efficiently. The collective intelligence part of the meeting is the juicy stuff that can’t be done over email. It involves two sections:

1. Identify, discuss, and solve issues

In EOS Level 10 Meetings, this is known as IDS and is the time to brainstorm and prioritize issues. 

The first thing to tackle is any action item or rocks that were reported as off-track earlier in the meeting. Now is the time to ask why and discuss what the team can do to help it get back on track.

Next, we tackle issues inside the business (hence the term ‘collective intelligence’). This is an insanely valuable opportunity to ask the team how they would solve a problem, instead of punting it to the leader.

By asking the whole team to do the thinking and hold each other accountable for the solution, you create a cultural shift. You go from a situation in which a leader is a genius with some helpers to a scenario in which they are a leader surrounded by geniuses who can think for themselves. Spend as much time as you need on this.

2. Strategic discussions and presentations

This may not happen every week, but often there is an element of a rock that needs to be presented back to the leadership team. This is the time to facilitate team discussions around this kind of thing.

The presentation should be sent out to the team in advance. This way, they can see, digest, and understand it and come to the meeting prepared to discuss solutions. This allows the presentation during the meeting to be very brief and leaves more time for discussion and developing action from it.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #7: Action Item Review (5 minutes)

This one is self-explanatory – you quickly review action items that came up during the meeting and who is responsible for what by next week.

Weekly Meeting Agenda Item #8: Meeting Close (2 minutes)

This section may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be intentional about it. I recommend asking each person to rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10 and share one thing the facilitator can do to improve it for next week.

Note that you’re not asking why they rated it as they did. You ask how you can make it better. And you should track this on your dashboard so you can continuously track improvements or issues. These meetings get increasingly valuable as you get better at running them, which should show up as improving scores. 

Tips for Weekly Meeting Facilitators

As a business strategy consultant, I’ve seen firsthand what separates a great facilitator from an ineffective one. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind to run great meetings:

  • The meeting facilitator should always be the same. This is important to ensure continuity and drive constant improvement. I don’t recommend the facilitator be the company leader (though it often is in smaller businesses). The facilitator should be detail-oriented and a stickler for procedure.
  • Timing and tempo are crucial! The first five agenda items should be completed within 30 minutes. Establish a cadence and stick to it.
  • Begin on time, no matter what. Being punctual is a part of accountability. Even if the CEO is not in the room, you should start on time. 
  • Send everyone a reminder to make sure rocks are up to date. Preparatory work is required to ensure the meeting is valuable. 
  • Ensure the accountability system is visible to all. If your meeting is in person, project it so the entire team can see it. If the meeting is virtual, share the screen.

 

If you follow this agenda and stick to these facilitator tips, you’re well on your way to running weekly meetings that don’t suck! Want to talk any of this over? Get in touch

Mike Knapp

STRATEGIC PLANNING & EXECUTION

Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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