Keep team meetings short and sweet with an effective system that fosters collaboration and engagement.
Barry Raber, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Portland, Oregon, is president and CEO of Business Property Trust, a Portland-based real estate investment firm that owns and manages covered RV and self-storage in Arizona and Texas. He’s a thought leader who shares resources for businesses, so we asked him how he simplifies meetings in his company.
How many meetings have you been to? Now think about this: How many truly effective, engaging, productive, and short meetings have you attended?
If your answers are “too many” and “almost none,” that was my experience, too — until I started my own business.
Once I was in charge, I searched for a different approach — a better philosophy to guide my weekly meetings. I read books, brainstormed with my team, and visited other companies to see how they handled the “dreaded meeting.” Consistent themes emerged — keep it productive, keep it quick, and most of all, make it enjoyable.
And so began “Meetings by Post-it,” my innovative approach to radically shorten regular meetings while engaging staff and getting things done. The concept is simple: Write and review four bullet points on a Post-it twice a week, in 10 minutes or less for the entire meeting. Suddenly, our meetings were focused, productive, and energizing! Here’s what our typical meetings look like:
At our “Monday in the Loop” at 9 a.m. everyone shares their bullets, which are the things they want to accomplish for the week. They also mention something they’re stuck on. And that’s it! Short, sweet, and effective. On Wednesdays, we hold a “Greatest Hits” meeting. That’s when everyone shares three things they or a fellow team member accomplished, or other good news from the previous seven days — two business items and one personal. Each employee also shares one thing they are engaged in for the week that relates to company goals.
Simple, right? Here’s why it works:
- Monday in the Loop helps everyone set weekly priorities and allows others to understand what each person is pursuing. This promotes collaboration and helps everyone feel like they are contributing beyond their individual projects. Team members respect each other more because they can see how everyone is contributing. When someone has a project that isn’t moving forward in a timely fashion or has an item they are stuck on, another employee can offer suggestions or insights to re-energize the effort offline after the meeting.
- Monday in the Loop also helps jump-start the week and maintain productivity. Employees plan in earnest, so they come to the meeting prepared, which in turn allows them to focus during the week to accomplish key goals. There is an unwritten rule that items on the Post-it list will get done that week. If an employee mentions the same task the following week, it is subtly obvious who is performing (and who isn’t).
- Our Greatest Hits meeting is a cheerleading session. It allows employees to brag about their own or other team members’ accomplishments or positive developments for the week, and it helps everyone see progress within the company. Immediately, the manager can tell from the business-related Greatest Hits if an employee is really committed and accomplishing critical work or if he or she is disinterested and working around the edges. Personal Greatest Hits aren’t trivial either — an employee’s answer illustrates a level of engagement toward life while providing the team with a better understanding of priorities and what motivates them as a person.
- Greatest Hits has predictable outcomes. By answering what each employee is doing toward achieving company goals, it reconnects them with the annual roadmap that all too often becomes forgotten and irrelevant in the bustle of daily activities. It also keeps everyone working on that important plan. Sharing something personal builds trust and camaraderie in the office. Each week, the group feels better about the company’s direction and success because they hear 15 to 30 good things that happened the prior week, creating a positive and infectious atmosphere and boosting confidence all around.
The “Meetings by Post-it” concept is simple. And it works, especially for companies where leadership is three to 10 employees. It would also work well for a single department in a company. Quick, quality meetings are within your grasp — just reach for a Post-it!
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