The Weekly Tactical Meeting
As part of a run down on the 4 Meeting structure which really comes out of Patrick Lencioni's book Death By Meeting (also referenced in his book The Advantage) last week we talked about the 5 minute meeting, this week it's the Weekly Tactical Meeting we're discussing.
You'll remember from our summary (check here if you don't!) that this is the 45-90 minute session every week focused 100% on the tactical issues of the business. The reason for this is simple, you need to make sure your actually executing the plan and give yourself time for a course correction if it's heading off course and it keeps you on focus.
We have all been (many times) to a meeting about something, then discuss 4 other things that weren't on the agenda but actually didn't solve or come to a decision about the one thing you really needed to discuss? Well the great thing about this session is that you are forced to stay on point and here's how.
The Meeting Agenda
This is easy, there is no fixed topic agenda! Ok well maybe that isn't exactly true but your intrigued right? So there is a structure but the main focus is 100% flexible and here is how it works:
- Start off with a "Lightning Round" around 5 -10 min this is basically a round the table section that is a summary of the top 2 or 3 things each member of the team has on their plate at the moment, this isn't a discussion it's just an information dump and maybe a clarification question or two but no full on discussion that would be later. So now everyone is on the same page. Anything of note here can be added to the Tactical agenda items by the meeting chair.
- Scoreboard Review - again around 5 minutes, here you look at the key metrics you are tracking for that quarter (yes quarter - they should change as you improve or find other area's needing focus!) this is where you get to say that you are simply on target or not on target with the metric, there may be some questions or disagreement here in the team on the actual position of a number if one of the team have more up to date information for example, Becky may say that the sales target is on track but David chimes in, are you kidding, didn't you know that customer X has just announced a restructure, there is no way they are taking their full forecast now. These things will happen and that's a good thing! You'll also review the Thematic Goal progress here as well, if you haven't yet grabbed our free template then grab it here. Anything of note here can be added to the Tactical agenda items by the meeting chair.
- Tactical Agenda Items - 40-60 Mins. This is the main part of the meeting and is created based on the output from the Lightening Round & the Scoreboard review, anything else that hasn't come up isn't really driving the issues right now. Here you can delve into the 2 or 3 biggest tactical issues you need to solve that week, the chairperson will assign the order based on any discussions that have been had and how big an impact on the tactical operation the issue has. Now a key here is everyone needs to comment on the final decision on the topic, if they stay quiet take that as disagreement, no one leaves the room until everyone weighs in on the issue, they don't have to all agree, in fact they wont all agree but again that's OK the leader of the group will make the final decision based on the discussion that's been had and the information to hand, then everyone round the table supports the hell out of it, it doesn't matter if they agree or disagree with the outcome they support it.
- Potential Strategic Topics - 0 Mins - that's right zero time.. this is a tactical session not a strategic session and you need to have them split out, you wouldn't mix a 1 hr documentary program with a 30 min sitcom and expect a great viewing experience so why would you mix Tactical and Strategic items in one meeting and expect a great meeting experience? The chairperson should take note of the items that pop up and just put them to the side for the next Strategic session.. don't worry it'll be a long soon!
- Decisions / Actions - 5 mins Review the decisions and actions that have come out of the meeting, these should be documented in the meeting notes, this is important, you have no idea, or maybe you do, how often people leave a meeting believing that the outcome was X then it was agreed it was Y. Assign any actions that need to be followed up and by when & who needs to know the outcomes, generally it's this team.
- Cascading Messages - 5 mins. this is probably the most important step of any meeting and it's the one that gets missed all the time. You need to discuss what needs to be communicated to the direct reports of the people in the room and of course what shouldn't be communicated. Agree on a time frame for this to happen, 24hrs max is a good rule of thumb if everyone is in the same time zone, if not then do what is sensible but really no more than 48hrs or the grapevine kicks into high speed!
The benefits of these meetings are huge.
- You have a weekly catch up with the whole team,
- Everyone is on the same page
- Everyone is working on the right things
- Everyone knows the Score
- Communication within the company is high which increases engagement
- No time is wasted in mixed up meetings
- Things get done!
Like the Daily Catchup it may take you a few weeks to get into the rhythm of these meetings and to feel the benefit but once you do you will wonder why something so simple can do so much in both saving you time and improving your team's performance.
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