Making Meetings Count

by Zach Montroy

Is it even worth it to state that everyone hates meetings? Truth be told, I tried to think of a joke and couldn’t even come up with any “office meeting humor” that doesn’t immediately cause groans. That’s why tools like Slack and Loom exist – to eliminate as many meetings as possible, right? But here’s the catch – if you ever lead any sort of team, you know the truth – sometimes we need to get together to talk.

It’s an ugly truth, but it’s unavoidable – meetings can’t be entirely eliminated. However, we can eliminate meetings that suck everyone’s time for little to no benefit. There is a way to create weekly touch points with your team that are built on effective communication. These types of meetings – let’s call them “Weekly Syncs” – can be wildly helpful in tracking progress, addressing challenges, and staying focused on objectives

Let’s do a meeting rebrand.

The Purpose of the Weekly Sync:

If done correctly, the Weekly Sync will actually save time for the entire organization. If you’re strategic about addressing objectives, opportunities, and obstacles in this short, set weekly time slot, you can avoid urgent side-conversations that disrupt productivity during the rest of the time.

Further – as a great leader, you need to communicate with your people. You need to stay in touch with their highs, lows, success, and challenges. Any separation leaves you at risk of losing their trust, and thereby their productivity and talent. A Weekly Sync lets everyone know that they can expect a time to talk through any pressing issues.

Implementing the Weekly Sync

The Weekly Sync meeting is initially recommended for the executive or senior leadership team before cascading down to departmental teams. Here are some best practices for conducting effective Weekly Syncs:

  1. Operator’s Meeting:

Designate an Operator who will lead the meeting. They can delegate facilitation, assign a scribe, or take charge of running the session. This individual ensures the meeting runs smoothly and stays on track.

  1. Consistency and Timeliness:

Schedule the Weekly Sync meeting for the same time each week, with a predetermined length. Start and end the meeting promptly to respect everyone’s time and encourage punctuality.

  1. Mandatory Attendance:

Make attendance mandatory for all team members involved. This ensures that critical information is shared, and everyone remains aligned on objectives and progress.

  1. Open and Honest Communication:

Foster an environment of open and honest communication during the meeting. Encourage team members to share their perspectives, challenges, and ideas without fear of judgment. This enables collaborative problem-solving and creates a culture of trust.

  1. Operator as Tie-Breaker:

In case of unresolved issues or disagreements, empower the Operator to act as a tie-breaker. Their role is to make the final decision or guide the team towards a resolution.

  1. Defining Key Terms:

To facilitate effective discussions during the Weekly Sync, establish clear definitions for key terms:

  1. Opportunities & Obstacles:

These refer to challenges, problems, or potential issues that team members identify, which may impact the organization positively or negatively. Maintain a shared list where Opportunities & Obstacles are recorded. Anyone can add items to the list, but the team collectively decides which ones to prioritize during the meeting.

  1. D.A.T. Method:

D.A.T. stands for Define the Opportunity, Align to S2 Roadmap, and Take Action. It serves as a structured approach for addressing Opportunities during the meeting.

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty…

Recommended Agenda for the Weekly Sync:

The agenda for the Weekly Sync meeting may vary depending on the team’s size and the organization’s maturity. Here is a suggested agenda to help structure the session:

  • Connect (10 mins):
    • Share one word to describe how you’re feeling.
    • Discuss the biggest win from the previous week.
    • Give shout-outs to team members exemplifying core values.
  • Cadence (5-10 mins):
    • Review the scoreboard, addressing any items that have been off-track for more than 2 weeks by adding them to the Opportunities list.
    • Review Objectives, responding only if they are on-track or off-track.
    • Note completed or pending actions, typically allowing 7 days for completion. Overdue actions can be dropped or given additional time based on team consensus.
  • Opportunities (45-60 mins):
    • Prioritize the Opportunities & Obstacles list and choose three to focus on during the meeting.
    • Utilize the D.A.T. method to address each user opportunity. Define the Opportunity by clearly articulating the issue or idea at hand, ensuring everyone has a common understanding.
    • Align to S2 Roadmap. Evaluate how the identified opportunity aligns with the organization’s strategic roadmap and objectives. Consider the potential impact and relevance to prioritize effectively.
    • Take Action. Determine actionable steps to address the opportunity, assign responsibilities, and set deadlines. Ensure that decisions are documented and communicated to the relevant stakeholders.
  • Commit and Conclude (5-10 mins):
    • Review new actions assigned during the meeting, clarifying any potential ambiguities.
    • Rate the Sync meeting as a team, using a scale of 1-4 to evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.

Application of the Weekly Sync:

Encourage your team to leverage the S2 Sync™ app, which provides guidance throughout the agenda and serves as a central hub for recording data and outcomes from these conversations. This helps streamline information and facilitates better collaboration.

I hope this sets the tone for some rebranded meetings within your organization. If you need  more assistance, we’re here to help. Schedule a consult with us.

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