Meetings in business can be tough. It’s hard to manage a mix of personalities and opinions, handle the resulting conflict, whilst ultimately trying to get some clear next steps. Our meetings were no exception. We were fortunate, however, to find a simple meeting system that really helped us to transform our weekly meetings from unmanaged conversations to effective, action focused discussions. And, dare I say it, they became enjoyable!
Danny, NeoMam’s Founder, came to the table with another new and innovative idea to help take the business to the next level. He stopped by my desk and told me I needed to read ‘Traction: Get a grip on your business’, right away. The book introduced me to The EOS business model that helps businesses take a simple and action focused look at the various aspects of running a business; people, issues, traction, process, data and vision.
We decided to start the journey straight away.
By following the EOS Process, we have already seen some major improvements, despite only starting the process less than 3 months ago.
Weekly Leadership ‘Level 10’ Meeting
One of the first things we had to put into practice is a weekly leadership meeting called the weekly level 10. The weekly level 10 meeting is a disciplined approach to running a weekly meeting with your leadership team. The objective of the meeting is to report on the status of the business, identify any issues, discuss and solve them, and keep the team accountable for ongoing actions. The agenda is beautifully simple and strict:
Segue: 10 mins
Everyone presents one personal, one professional update, segueing from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ it.
Scorecard: 5 mins
Everyone presents their weekly KPIs as ‘on track’ or ‘off track’. If the KPI is off target, this is ‘dropped down’ to the issues list, which is kept updated throughout the meeting whenever an issue is presented.
Rock Review: 5 mins
Everyone presents whether they are ‘on track’ with their rocks, which are the agreed set of goals for the quarter. This holds people to account against the company goals, and ensure progress is made. Again, if any rock is off track, it is ‘dropped down’ to the issues list.
Customer/Employee headlines: 5 mins
Everyone presents any key good news or bad news about employees or customers. Good news is celebrated, bad news is ‘dropped down’ to the issues list.
To-Do list: 5 mins
The to-do list from last week is reviewed to ensure actions are complete. The goal is for 90% of all to do lists to be completed in 1 week. If certain ‘to-dos’ are not dropping off, then it is to be ‘dropped down’ to the issues list.
IDS: 60 mins
A whole hour is dedicated to discussing the issues list. The first step is prioritising the issues on the list. Some days you get through the entire list, other days just one or two major issues. The objective is to really get to the heart of the issue, find a permanent solution and agree actions.
IDS stands for Identify, Discuss, Solve:
– Identifying the issue can be tough, you don’t want to just describe symptoms of a recurring problem. Is this issue an issue of something much bigger?
– Discussing can be difficult, as most people have an opinion and sometimes it’s hard to move to the solution stage. Defining discussion as ‘everyone has 1 chance to say what they think’ is a great way to keep the discussion focused.
– Solve: once an issue has been discussed, it is important to find the next appropriate actions, and who will be responsible. Sometimes, an issue won’t be solved, but the team needs to agree that it is not hugely impactful, and they are happy to ‘put up with it’.
Conclude: 5 mins
Recap the to-do list, discuss any cascading messages and Rate the Meeting (1-10). Rating the meeting allows for you to continue to identify how to improve the meeting in future.
How to Run a Level 10 Meeting Effectively
A team meeting leader
A dedicated person should be allocated to take the team through the meeting agenda every week, note the issues and actions and share these at the end of every meeting. This person is responsible for the ongoing running of the meeting.
Treat the meetings as sacred
For the meeting to be effective, you really need you and your team to treat the meetings as sacred. You must always have the meetings every week without fail, they must start on time and finish on time. We have one team member timing the sections to help us wrap up when we time is up and we need to move on.
Be open and honest
Good discussions require everyone to be willing to air their thoughts and opinions. There will be disagreements, but this is a good thing. The more views that can be aired, the more potential solutions will present themselves.
It also means that everyone is more likely to stand behind the agreed actions. If one person decides not to voice an opinion, but they don’t agree, often they won’t commit fully towards achieving the goals aimed for.
When we first started, we decided to use an ‘honest pig’ which is a squeaky small pig that if we pick up it means we have something to say that is open and honest. It says ‘I’m not here to cause offence, I just want to be able to say this to help us get where we need to be’. We are now less afraid of ruffled feathers, and see these as progress to all getting on the same page.
Always give meeting feedback
The only way a meeting will get better is if you can also agree next steps to how to improve. When we first started the meetings, we would rack our brains to think about our personal bests, or what employees did well that week. After rating the meeting and thinking about how to improve, the need for preparation become apparent, and we made sure we prepared next time.
What We Have Achieved
Since starting the level meetings 3 months ago, we have achieved and resolved some really big issues:
- We made the big business decision to focus our product offering towards direct clients only
- We did a complete office makeover with huge success
- We resolved some serious, ongoing staffing issues, which prior to the meetings no-one wanted to deal with
- We developed department budgets and tracking systems
- We identified some specific training needs for the sales team training and implemented them
- By following a clear and structured agenda, designed to help you tackle problems head on, you can help increase accountability, action and transparency.
- The weekly meeting is a sacred entity- it needs to start on time, stay on topic and finish on time.
- Keep conversation open and honest. Don’t move on at the first sign of trouble, try to find the core of the disagreement- has there been a misunderstanding? Does everyone understand what is being said? What’s the feeling behind it? By digging deeper, you can often get the bottom of issues that are likely to rear their head at a later stage, or even uncover other issues, such as communication or resentment problems between leadership team members. By dealing with this, you are making great progress.
I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for running a successful meeting, or the challenges you face in your meetings in the comments below.