Leadership

7 Ways to Improve Meeting Productivity

How familiar does this sound? “Why do we have to have so many meetings?” or “I hate meetings.”

Anybody involved with being a leader in an organization know that meetings take up as much as 50% of the average workday. And for those that are in the start-up phase of an entrepreneurial endeavor know that number is often even higher. But how closely do we examine our meeting habits to determine the value they bring to our bottom lines?

Rereading a piece in Inc. Magazine from several years ago on the subject was a great reminder of how important it is to understand the impact meetings have on my organization’s productivity.

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For example, as the first quarter of 2019 comes to a close and you look back on what went right during the first three months of the year, entrepreneurs, leaders and managers automatically look at predictable indicators, including sales numbers, achievement of cost savings or maybe the success of your marketing campaigns.

While all of these indicators are important, it is how are meetings are conducted and organized that can serve as a “real time” KPI and help steer your organization towards success. Just as you “entrepreneurial elevator pitch” can open up doors to start-up investment, good management of your organization’s meeting culture can help leaders maintain a steady cadence towards business success.

I know, meetings seem like the least important activities businesses (and their leaders) participate in. In fact, we’ve previous noted in this blog that the four major activities businesses must master are Decision Making, Organizing, Controlling and Leading. Establishing a meeting structure is an essential subset of the Management Process.

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Below are 7 ways you can improve effectiveness and impact of your meetings: 

Establish the ‘why’

Make sure each meeting that is convened has a clear objective or purpose. Don’t just meet for meeting’s sake. If there is no discernible outcome that you are aiming for, the meeting isn’t worth happening.

Pick the right people

Make sure that the right people are in the meeting. That means people who have decision-making authority; people who’s creativity on the subject can offer unseen alternative solutions; and key leaders of the activities being discussed should be the core members of important meetings.

Keep it short

There are no rules that say every meeting must last at least an hour. Meetings as short as 15 minutes can be very effective, provided you prepare well for each.

Build an agenda

An agenda is important for the flow of meetings. It is also important for memorializing decisions and assignments. But maybe the most important, agendas are designed to help you (and your team) be productive.

Design the structure

Whether it’s a reporting-out meeting, an update meeting or a brainstorming session, each meeting should be designed in a way where there are pre-specifications that are measurable. This allows meeting facilitators to opportunity to evaluate the relative success of their meeting styles.

Everyone participates

If you have the right people in a room, then every voice in the room has an important contribution to the success of the meeting. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to share their perspectives.

Get agreement and follow up

An effective agenda helps participants get agreement on the relevance of specific issues, thereby allowing for the editing of items to be discussed. Once decisions are made in a meeting, there needs to be an acknowledgment of all of the follow up activities that are assigned.

 If you have other meeting design suggestions to increase productivity, please share your ideas in the comment section below.

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Borderless Leadership

Taking calculated risks are an every day thing in business. Entrepreneurs around the world face similar challenges when considering whether to go into business for themselves, regardless of the market they are in. Many of the lessons learned opening up a business are universal. 

Recently, OVP Management Consulting Group got a chance to meet a new entrepreneur in the health & fitness arena in Europe. We sat down with Ash "Coach Ash" Hoctor, the co-owner of Viribus CrossFit, in Dublin, Ireland, to talk about his experience being a leader of a new business venture.

Coach Ash, along with his business partners Stephen Crockett and Marty Crockett opened a "CrossFit box" earlier this year in the Smithfield neighborhood of Dublin. 

OVP Management Consulting Group (OVP): What is the meaning of your company's name Viribus CrossFit and how did you select it for your business? 

Ashland Hoctor (Coach Ash)Viribus is latin for strength. Myself, Marty and Stevey have been passionate about sport and fitness. Played soccer and boxing and weight training at a young age. It was about getting stronger a motto that we have in the gym – getting stronger. That relates to Viribus.

OVP CONSULTING: What is your role in your organization?

Coach Ash: I'm a co-owner. There are three of us, Stevey and Marty. We've known each other since we were in school together; over 20 years. When we were growing up and training together, it was a dream of ours to set up a gym. We’re from Derry in Ireland. We chose Dublin because we wanted to come home after having lived abroad for so many years. Now, we can get the experience we had (with CrossFit abroad), but now its at home. This is an opportunity that gives us the ability to meet different people from different cultures.

Left to right: Stephen Crockett, Ash Hoctor, Marty Crockett.

Left to right: Stephen Crockett, Ash Hoctor, Marty Crockett.

OVP CONSULTING: Why did you decide to get into the business that you’re in?

Coach Ash: To be able to do something on a daily basis that you enjoy is something that not everyone can do. We’ve worked as teachers and were in the corporate world. About three years ago, we were in NY and we saw we could make that dream a reality. We started saving our pennies. We all enjoy it and believe in it. For us, Viribus is all about creating a community where the members can build friendships, motivate each other and achieve their fitness goals together. This is very important to us. 

OVP CONSULTING: In your own words, what is leadership and what does it mean to be a leader, in your organization?

Coach Ash: I think for me, leadership is being an example for others to follow. You’re an ambassador for your company. You’re also a role model for how you want your business to be perceived. From a grander scale to the finer details, you are a reflection of that business. Being a leader is about being an ambassador for the business.

Not many have this opportunity (to be a business owner). You want to make it work. If you're not doing the hard work, the business won’t work. Of course, you want to make money from the business and you want it to be successful. But you need to put in the hard work.

OVP CONSULTING: What would you say are the top 3 qualities good leaders should possess and why?

-       Being resilient: You take set backs, but you keep moving forward and you learn how to problem solve and work around obstacles. Its not the end of the world if you come upon an obstacle. Its not all smooth sailing. You have to try to remain positive.

-       Being a good listener: Listen and look around what’s happening in your industry. You really have to become an expert in the field you choose to do business in. For us, that's CrossFit. Listen to your customers. We’re a new gym and we have a growing customer base. On a day-to-day basis you have to get their feedback. Also, listen to your suppliers. Being a good listener means taking the time to listen to somebody who could have a big impact on the business.

-       Being practical: Between the three of us, you always have a voice of reason. We all come up with ideas. But we can't implement all of them. You need to have someone that will tell you when they think something could be done a better way.

OVP CONSULTING: Is there a leader (in any arena) that you look up to? If so, who and why?

Coach Ash: Within CrossFit there isn’t one particular person. But, one person for me would be Arnold Schwarzenegger. I saw him at the Arnold Classic (Arnold Sports Festival event) and I read his book about body building and the effort that he put in to become successful. One of the things he did was he did his market research for every business venture that he went into.  You need to do your market research. I read his book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story and I learned a lot from that. It is very inspiring for any aspiring entrepreneur. You can take a lot away from it.

OVP CONSULTING: What is the best piece of advice about leadership that you’ve ever gotten?

Coach Ash: When I worked in the corporate world, a previous manager said “it always helps to build a good network of people.” Network within your business and find experts. Now we’ve taken this to Viribus CrossFit. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We want to be the best CrossFit gym in Dublin, and the people we work with should reflect that aspiration. It’s based on friendship.

OVP CONSULTING: In closing, what advice would you give people that are either new leaders of people or people that are looking to improve their leadership skills in the future? 

Coach Ash: For me, within CrossFit the learning never stops. Always keep on top of what’s happening in your industry. Without that, you have very little. (In CrossFit) People are relying on you to give them good programming and good workouts. You always have to keep on top of the latest trends and information. Become an expert about your industry. And always keep learning.

For us at Viribus, being the Best means that our reputation is solid and people are achieving the personal goals they set for themselves when they came to us. Member satisfaction is key. It is a passion project for us. 

OVP CONSULTING: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Designing Your Leadership Vision

Greetings friends!

In his book Design for the Real World, famed author and design philosopher Victor Papanek noted that "design is a conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order. Design is both the underlying matrix of order and the tool that creates it."

This is a reminder that leadership is not just about processes, data and decision making. Great leaders must show some "heart and soul" as well as technical skills, for team members to follow them. 

Effective leaders are intentional about designing workplace eco-systems where employees are made to feel like full-fledged members of an exclusive club. To design these kinds of environments, leaders have to know and understand the talents of each team member. 

According to one Gallup survey of employers, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.

They also have to surround team members with systems and processes that support the amplification of those talents. This is where creative team design results in the establishment of group culture. 

To see how design "intentionally shows up" in great leaders, listen to Simon Sinek in this fascinating TED Talk from 2015.

If you are interested in getting leadership and team coaching through OVP Management Consulting Group, let us know by clicking on the Contact Us button. We strive to provide our clients with the Optimal Value Proposition (OVP) for their consulting and coaching needs.

Have a great and productive week!

Establishing Trust

My favorite part of being a leader is coaching and guiding people towards personal and team success. In fact, I believe how a leader "leads" is one of the most critical metrics for success in organizations. 

Yes, being responsibile for projects, budgets and processes is important to being a successful leader in any environment. But, being able to help people realize their potential and offer a system by which they can measure their own progress is quite satisfying.

For clients of OVP Management Consulting Group, we stress the idea that coaching is a process of observing a team member's behaviors, comparing those actions to a set of agreed upon standards and talking about how best to achieve those standards. To do this effectively, leaders have to develop trusting relationships with their teams. 

One of our individual clients is a mid-level manager for an internet content hub. She oversees a team of about five writers with varying degrees of professional experience.

One of her big challenges has been to find ways to help each of her direct reports find ways to gain new insights about how they do their jobs in a fast-paced, ever-changing industry where clicks are currency and a premium is placed on producing "fresh" content. 

We recommended that she consider restructuring how the team meetings are run.

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Specifically, we suggested that the manager carve out a section of time during their weekly staff meetings, perhaps 20 minutes, dedicated to the sharing of new ideas on how best to reach the team's goals. And to ensure that this new structure isn't viewed as a "mandated" process, we've encouraged our client to let her team design the meeting and lead it themselves.

Our client recently noted that members of her team seem to be more willing to bring up issues about how they do their work that typically don't get surfaced in other meeting environments. We believe investing in her employees by paying attention to them and actively listening to employees fosters a level of trust that is necessary in a leader/employee relationship.

Thus far, our client has been able to gain greater insights on how her employees prefer to engaging in solving problems. We believe this is an important step in the process of leaders developing a coaching philosophy or methodology. 

Here are some other tips you might want to employ to improve your coaching outcomes with your teams:

  • Consider alternating the leader of each staff meeting
  • Get agreement on the structure of staff meetings with input from the team
  • For meeting 15 minutes or less, have a "standing huddle" where participants stand around the team activity board or whiteboard
  • Always recap the "to do list" at the end of meetings to ensure you have agreement on assignments and deadlines

Have questions about how to become a more effective leader/coach? Interested in learning ways to get the most from your teams? We would love to work with you! Just go to www.OVPConsulting.com and click on Contact Us. Someone will get back to you quickly!