The Missing Critical Meeting
What is a Strategic Meeting Anyway?
Before we get to that really critical meeting that you are not having let's talk about the dumb ones you probably are having, The Strategic Meeting. For much of the time when someone says a meeting is strategic, they are saying that to make it sound important, to try and get everyone there and to make sure they appear more important than they really are. Let's face it when you get told you must do it because it's strategic your eyes roll, and you shake your head just a little. This is compounded only by having these weekly Strategic meetings. If it really was a strategic meeting you would be able to point to something in the organisational strategic plan that would support the meeting and it would be looking at a range of 1-5 years. The reality is it's probably more of a tactical "Oh buggar" meeting because something has gone wrong and they just don't want to say that. These sessions typically add zero value and you really should avoid them or take a buzzword bingo card to them and see if you can outscore your friends.
The Myriad of Other Meetings
There are of course a bunch of other meetings that happen, planning meetings, finance meetings, budget reviews (apparently different from finance ones), Budget planning (seemingly different but indistinguishable from budget reviews), team meetings, safety meetings, quality meetings (where we get to beat up the token victim who failed to meet the standard) and the list goes one. Don't get me wrong some of these are important, most not so much, they live in the past looking at things that have happened that can no longer be changed. Why not set up a meeting about what you will do in the future? Share the past results that you can review prior to the meeting and come only to talk about the future steps and learnings, what a breath of fresh are would that be? Even better what if you looked at your meetings and sent someone else to them? Grow the knowledge of your team and free up time! (I must confess I used to just not turn up to meetings to see if anyone noticed, I would then go to those that people missed me at and not the others, it cut my meeting schedule by 40%!)
The Real Critical Meeting
I've been a little unkind about meetings so far and it really is done, to an extent, with tongue in cheek. There some meetings you must have but as I say find a way of changing them from historical to future meetings and we'll talk more about that in an upcoming post.
The real meeting you need to be having however is the one that you are almost certainly not having and it's critical to the success of you, your team and your organisation and that critical meeting is the meeting you have with yourself. I know, it sounds dumb but hear me out. The aim of this meeting is to ensure that you do a few critical things:
- Take time to genuinely reflect on how things are going with you, I'm not talking about the business stuff here I'm talking about the you stuff. Are you stressed, are you getting balance, time with the family, friends, to exercise, are you eating properly and so on? This is important because firstly if you want to achieve anything in work then your head needs to be in the game and you need to be fit and not stressed, you need to be looking at building those resilience muscles!
- One you have checked in with yourself then turn to work, before you dive into the detail stop and ask yourself two questions, am I still benefiting / growing by being here and is the organisation benefiting / growing by me being here. As long as you can answer both those things with a yes then you are in good shape, if there is no or a maybe in there it's time to think deeper about that and you should ignore everything else and focus on that. If you aren't bought into what you are doing how can you lead others?
- Now we are ready to think about the business. It's time to pull out your plan that you have put together (you did put together a plan for the year right? don't worry we'll cover that in an upcoming blog as well just in case!) here you want to look at how you are tracking towards the goals / kpi's that have been set, what's your numbers telling you about the performance of you and your team. Take a hard-critical look at it, where are the gaps. Sometimes if helps to rank these things on a scale to help figure out where the biggest and most pressing challenge is that needs addressed.
- Once you have those things narrowed down to highlight where you need to focus to recover you also need to think about what things absolutely need to happen next, this is about building a mini action plan to take the next steps towards your goals. These shouldn't be huge giant steps that are unachievable these should be realistic steps that you and your team can take.
- I like to try and picture things in 5 years time, what does it look like, and then work back to make sure that the actions and steps I'm taking now support that, I've found it really helpful for figuring out what is really important. I also do this with most of my clients and they all tell me it really helps them to get clarity on the timing of actions they know they need to take to get that end result.
- The 2nd to last thing you should do is reflect on the successes that you have had over the last week, list them out on a separate bit of paper which is your ongoing success list. Add to this at every meeting and watch it grow, it's pretty inspiring when you look back at the list of success you have over a short period of time, they don't have to be earth shattering, every little win helps!
- So far you have check with your own well being, decided if you should still be in the company, looked back at what went well and what didn't, focused down on a few things to really drive for the next week and listed out your wins, that's quite a list of things that you have done and chances are it's taken you all of an hour at most, now for the most important part. Take the last 10 minutes and just drink a cuppa and relax.
Why this Helps
By having this meeting you are able to return to work refreshed, relaxed and focused which means that this flows on to your team, they get the direction they need about the important things that they need to work on, that means that 'critical things become the minority of what you work on because you are organised. If you are relaxed, then it automatically helps your team feel more relaxed and relaxed people do better (and safer) work.
The push back I normally get however is that people are too busy they have too many meetings to go to and too many things to do. The thing is, having this weekly session (and a slightly more in-depth monthly one) will reduce the other meetings and the firefighting, you just need to be willing to break the cycle.
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