6 Types of Meetings and How to Use Them Successfully

Let’s get honest – most of us are tired of meetings because they seem pointless. However, when leveraged correctly, meetings can be a powerful tool for feeling connected, driving fruitful collaboration, and achieving goals. Start by understanding the six main types of meetings and then scheduling them at a thoughtful cadence.

One-on-One

Don’t wait until these are needed. Schedule a standing one-on-one meeting depending on your needs – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Examples of one-on-one meetings:

  • Team member check-ins
  • Feedback sessions
  • Coaching or training meetings

Team Progress

These are regularly scheduled update meetings. The cadence and style will depend on your team size. Weekly meetings work well for highly-independent teams or during peak capacity times. Biweekly may work well for smaller teams that collaborate frequently. You may choose to run your meetings on the EOS Meeting format or as a simple round-robin. The agenda format relies heavily on the team’s style and size. Examples of team progress meetings:

  • Leadership Team Meeting
  • Broad Team Meeting
  • Project Team Meeting

Team Development

Whether educational development (hello, Lunch n’ Learn) or bonding (teambuilding), a team development session should be strategically planned in advance to ensure these efforts don’t get lost in the daily shuffle. Examples of team development meetings:

  • Training Session
  • Team Building Session
  • Celebratory Event

Ad Hoc

As the name suggests, ad hoc meetings are scheduled as needed and have one clearly defined goal. If it’s a brainstorming session, that’s all that is done in that meeting. If it’s to address an issue, focus solely on the issue. If it’s a decision-making session, only work on that decision. Don’t cram multiple goals into an ad hoc meeting. Examples of ad hoc meetings:

  • Brainstorming 
  • Decision Making
  • Address Issues

Quarterly Planning

Step away from the day-to-day completely to realign your team, strategy, and projects. Quarterly Planning or Business meetings are ideal for recapping what went well over the past quarter, the adjustments that need to be made to goals and the way work gets done (e.g., Quarterly Process Review), and being proactive about the coming months. Examples of quarterly planning meetings:

  • Strategic/goal planning
  • Content/campaign planning
  • Project planning

Annual Strategic

The big one. Shut down operations, go to a neutral location, and get down to it. Review your values, vision, goals, strategic initiatives, project plan, key measurements, and anything else that sets the business up for success in the coming year. 

How to Use Meetings Successfully

A few quick guidelines to ensure your meetings are effective:

  • Map your meetings on a calendar and schedule them well in advance. You can always adjust throughout the year, but at least it will be on the radar.
  • Keep tabs on the time investment. High Frequency = Shorter Meetings. If you’re meeting weekly, keep the meetings to 30 minutes or less. 
  • Have an agenda. Whether an itemized agenda or a framework to guide the conversation, have a structure in place.
  • Limit attendees and ensure everyone understands why they are included.
  • Pay attention to the clock. Start on time, end on time.
  • Have a Parking Lot to maintain focus.
  • Develop an accountability system. Have someone take notes, track tasks, and follow up. (A powerful task management tool is your best friend here!)

Now take the time to think about what meetings you need for your team and what cadence makes the most sense. If you need assistance with strategically planning your team connections, my Intensives are the perfect opportunity to get another set of eyes on your plan.

3 Behaviors that Scare Contractors Away

Building a team of independent contractors is a great way to start building your business efficiency and capacity. You can add (wo)manpower to address a project or ongoing needs without getting bogged down in the Human Resources process. However, the unspoken and great risk with contractors is they aren’t employees, so their emotional buy-in, loyalty, and trust are easier to break. To ensure you attract and keep your team, avoid these three behaviors that scare contractors away.

Not Being Available for Questions or Approvals

Delegation does not mean dumping everything on your team and walking away. Particularly during training windows, business owners need to be available for questions and approvals. Even the highest skilled contractors will need your involvement and input because, newsflash, you’re the business owner – not them. The most talented team will continue to turn to you for guidance to ensure they are delivering the work you would like. 

Scope Creep 

You creep – creep yeeeah – and keep adding items to their list. From the offset, be transparent about what you expect from the role, what responsibilities are needed, and what growth areas are on deck when they master the initial set of tasks. If, at some point, you decide you need more or different work from them, you have to ask – and be prepared for them to say no. If they do say yes, be prepared to pay. 

Treating them like an employee

This seems to be a difficult one for business owners to wrap their heads around. Hiring independent contractors comes with a handful of restrictions that business owners need to be aware of and respect. Contractors are running their own businesses, and their service to you should work for both parties – but you cannot control the way they do business. Stringent work schedules, consistent urgent turnaround times, and unrealistic performance expectations all fall into this category. Factors such as schedules and response time may be discussed and negotiated, but the contractor holds the power in these discussions.

Scope creep, lack of access, and creating too many parameters for performance are all key behaviors that will scare contractors away. If you’re struggling with your contractor team, take time to reflect on what you actually need from the roles and if it’s possibly time to hire employees. 

Want to improve your leadership skills? Learn more about your management style, how you can effectively direct and delegate, and much more with Efficiency and Effectiveness Coaching. Learn more here.

How to Implement a New System Successfully

Implementing a new system or process can be frustrating if all the hard work put in doesn’t stick. We evaluate, design, implement, and then, disappointingly, nothing works how we hoped. Why? Most systems and processes fail because the team is not aligned for the new system rollout. Team members don’t understand the context of the change, the importance of the improvement, the goals of the project, or their role in bringing the new system to reality. The good news is this is easily solved. Implement a new system successfully by ensuring your team is involved, informed, and well-equipped.

Here are five things you can do to ensure your new system or process is embraced and sticks.

Align your team around the vision

Your team should understand why this new system is needed. Provide context, including the pain points, and how this new system will ease the way they work. Also, communicate the anticipated timeline and what success will look like.

Involve your team

When brainstorming about a new system, or deciding what features and functions are included, involve your team in the process. Collect their feedback to ensure they not only feel heard, but you are also solving true issues for their work environment. 

Set expectations

Often new systems are brought in to replace old ways of doing things or technology. Set expectations with the team about the timeline of implementation and when old systems or old ways of doing things should discontinue. 

Have a training plan

Train your team on the new system or processes immediately. The first training session should be simply an orientation to help the team understand the various functions and features of the system or a process. From this initial session, provide training opportunities or materials for ongoing development, such as sending out related webinars and tutorials. Take it a step further by adding training lunch and learns or other ad hoc training opportunities to build the team’s confidence with the system.

Review and revise

Regularly come back to your system to evaluate its efficiency and effectiveness for your current business needs and goals. This can be done well in a quarterly process review or annual systems review. Ask your team to individually provide feedback on how the system is working and what improvements would be helpful. Combine this feedback, and in a meeting together, sift through the themes and create a plan to adjust the system.

All the effort put into system and process improvement should be done with the end in mind. Not only should you focus on what the system will achieve, but also how it will be used. Thoughtfully involve and train the team members who will be using the system to improve implementation success greatly.

As you work to improve your operations, a strategic partner can make all the difference in successful design and implementation. My services help you optimize your people, processes, and technology to ensure sustainable operational excellence. Learn more about how I can support you here.

3 Fundamentals of Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness

Achieving operational efficiency and effectiveness can be frustrating for new and veteran leaders alike. As business moves through environmental and resource changes, the strategy to manage workflows has to adjust as well.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between operational efficiency and effectiveness. This blog post can help you with that.

Next, adopt a framework that allows you to quickly evaluate your operational health and where the workflows are no longer working. The fundamentals of the PPT framework are ideal for all business sizes and models to achieve operational excellence.

The PPT Framework

One of the most popular theories for improving efficiency and effectiveness has been the People, Processes, and Technology (PPT) framework. PPT has been around since the early 1960s and has been applied across industries to maintain a balanced operational strategy.

For the PPT framework to be applied well, it needs to be treated like a three-legged stool. Too much emphasis on one area or neglecting another will unbalance the organization. Often, small businesses that are looking to grow and scale will hyperfocus on either people or technology and, in the end, struggle to rebalance themselves after their investment.

To ensure a strategy is executed with the overall operational health in mind, use the PPT framework as a guidepost. Here’s what each of the three fundamentals includes.

People

“People” is every person available to deliver goods, services, and operational support inside an organization. Ensuring your people are all contributing to your organization’s effectiveness, consider the following:

  • Are people being utilized well?
  • Are they the right people? (Culture and values fit)
  • Are they in the right role? (Role and skill alignment)
  • Do team members have clarity on their roles and responsibilities?
  • Is additional training needed to improve performance?
  • Are team members able to leverage their natural talents?
  • Is the team culture healthy?

Processes

“Processes” is how the work gets done and goals are achieved utilizing the resources available. Workflows often get broken because processes are not updated to reflect changes in People and Technology. Continue to improve your operational processes by considering the following:

  • How can the process be streamlined to minimize friction?
  • How can the process be streamlined to maximize client touch points?
  • Do team members understand how they fit into the process? 
  • Is the process well defined and documented?
  • Does the process have a measurement of success that is understood?
  • How can the process be improved with existing or new people or technology?

Technology

“Technology” refers to all the digital services used to support business functions, such as hardware, software, and apps. Often, technology gets out of alignment with operational goals due to redundancy, misuse, or missed opportunities for optimization. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your technology by considering:

  • Are there multiple systems that do the same functions?
  • Are there systems that are not needed?
  • Is it clear how each software is intended to be used?
  • Are systems optimized and integrated to streamline work?
  • Have systems been audited for effectiveness in the past year?
  • Have the operational needs outgrown what current systems are capable of?

How to use the PPT Framework?

When seeking to improve or address sticky operations, first, ask yourself, “Is this a People, Process, or Technology issue?” This will help you narrow down to the root of where focused attention would be most effective. Then continually revisit the PPT framework as you build and change workflows to ensure you’re maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of all three fundamentals. 

As you work through your operations improvement, an external perspective may be helpful. As an Operations Consultant, I can help you identify areas of opportunity and assist you in developing a strategic and effective plan of attack. Learn more about my services here.

Better Manage Communication with Habit Stacking

Most of us struggle to keep up with the constant influx of communication – emails, texts, chat messages, and social media. It’s a lot of conversing that can be disruptive to our productive flow and overwhelm our desire to socialize. A commonly recommended solution to controlling how much time and attention we allocate to communication is to turn off notifications. A great suggestion and one I highly recommend. However, if you’re even slightly paranoid, you may worry about missing something important, which keeps you checking your inbox even with notifications turned off. Additionally, there never seems to be enough time in the day to dedicate solely to correspondence. To solve this, wrangle the communication chaos by habit stacking it.

What is habit stacking?

Simply put, habit stacking is aligning multiple tasks that make sense to do together, anchored by something you already routinely do.

How to habit stack communication?

There are many things you can habit stack your communication management with. However, I have found the most successful habit anchor to be drinking beverages. 

Try adding blocks to your calendar designated for responding to all of those emails, texts, and messages, but also align it with a soothing beverage break. 

Here are a few fun names to make the blocks of time more appealing – and easy to remember!

  • Coffee + Correspondence
  • Tea + Touch Base
  • Sips + Scribbles

You may only need 15 minutes to enjoy your beverage and get through all of your messages, but if you need longer, book it in your calendar! Set it up as a recurring task and keep it like a meeting. That means not double-booking yourself, but moving it to accommodate other items that pop up on your calendar. Tip: Put your communication block on your calendar as a “free/available” event so scheduling assistants won’t see it as busy.

Need additional tips for managing your emails? Start with my free download to help you clean out your inbox or this post about the five email templates you need to use.

How to Hold a Successful Project Debrief

When wrapping up a project, it’s easy just to let the work be marked “completed” and move on to the next big thing. However, a project debrief is essential to learning from the experience and growing as a team. Conduct a successful Project Debrief by setting aside the time to review and discuss.

Prior to the Debrief Meeting

In preparation for the debrief meeting, have team members submit feedback in a way that allows all team members to feel safe being candid. Depending on the team dynamic, this may look like a survey form, contributing to a shared document, or simply sending an email to a point of contact. Then consolidate all feedback to be reviewed during the session. This prework not only saves time but also helps prevent groupthink during the session.

The 3 Critical Questions

Ask team members to answer these three questions to ensure the Project Debrief is a productive use of time.

  1. What went well and contributed to the success of the project?
  2. What hindered the project workflows?
  3. What improvements are suggested for next time?

Set the Agenda

A key component of a successful Project Debrief meeting is keeping the agenda tight and streamlined. The purpose of gathering together should be a constructive discussion of the feedback and to celebrate a job well done. Below is a sample agenda for a Project Debrief:

  • Review Objectives and Goals
  • Review Responses “What went well and contributed to the success of the project?”
  • Review Responses “What hindered the project workflows?”
  • Review Responses “What improvements are suggested for next time?”
  • General Discussion
  • Celebrate Wins and Contributions

Tips

  • Keep the Project Debrief positive by moderating the conversation toward constructive feedback.
  • Truly celebrate by providing food and thank yous.
  • Share the feedback and wins via email, highlighting key contributions from the team members.

A project management tool like ClickUp can help keep all the feedback and notes in one place. It’s the perfect system for your full project lifecycle, providing support with sharing documents, chatting, building task lists, and more. Learn more about ClickUp here.

How to Hold a Successful Project Kick-Off Meeting

Starting a new project? Don’t jump right in until you’ve held a kick-off meeting. A Project Kick-Off Meeting is essential to set expectations, address concerns, and engage all parties in the goals and objectives. Without this meeting, your project may veer off the intended course, take more effort than necessary, or may not even achieve its goal. A Project Kick-Off Meeting ensures you start with the end in mind and direct everyone’s energy toward success.

Why should you have a Project Kick-Off Meeting?

A Project Kick-Off Meeting is the opportunity to evaluate the project from all angles. Bring together your team (or sit down solo!) and work your way through the entire project from start to finish considering the players, tasks, communications, and timelines. This meeting also opens the door for team members to gain clarity, share concerns, and buy into the purpose and expectations. As a bonus, details get a heavy evaluation – setting your project up for huge success.

Who should be involved?

You, colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders who will be participating in the project life. Please note that you can have a Project Kick-Off Meeting even if you’re running a project solo. 

What should be covered?

Depending on the scope of the project, these meetings can be quite quick or take a bit of time to cover. Prior to the meeting, consider how robust the project will be and plan the meeting time accordingly. Below is a sample agenda of the Project Kick-Off Meeting

  • Introductions – who is in attendance and will be involved?
  • Context – what is the project history?
  • Objectives and Goals – what are you hoping to achieve?
  • Scope and Plan – what are the timeline and deliverables needed to achieve the goals?
  • Roles and Responsibilities – who is doing what?
  • Communication – how will you will together, including check-in meetings, tracking, and document sharing?
  • Questions – what clarifications need to be made?

Once the Project Kick-Off Meeting is complete, share notes from the session with the team and schedule check-in meetings. If you need a tool to keep everyone on track and communication, ClickUp is the perfect system to share documents, chat, build task lists, and more. Learn more about ClickUp here.

Make the Most of Networking Events with a Post-Event Plan

If you’ve ever had a conference hangover, you know how hard it can be to reenter the real world and not be exhausted and overwhelmed. Between the physical recovery, digesting all the valuable information, and following up on conversations, simply put, it can be a lot. Then stack all of this on top of your everyday life obligations, and it’s hard to truly reap the benefits of the event. To ensure you get the most out of networking and professional development events, create a post-event plan

Here are three simple ideas to get you started:

Physically Recover

Traveling, getting up early/staying up late, walking around, engaging in conversations, and generally exerting energy can drain you. Know your limits and set aside time following the event to recover physically. This may mean taking the next day off of work or simply keeping your calendar clear of obligations.

Do a Debrief

Within a few days of the event, while everything is still fresh, go over your notes. Review big ideas and resources, then create a game plan to implement your favorites. Capture to-dos on your task list and set due dates. This is also a great time to go through all the takeaways from the conferences, such as gift bags and digital downloads, and look up any referenced materials, such as a good book recommendation. Also, how did you do on the goals? Check-in and see.

Tip: Schedule the debrief on your calendar immediately after you buy your ticket to ensure the time is set aside.

Follow Up

You made all those great connections – don’t let them go stale! Connect on social media and send emails to connect. Schedule coffee dates or video chats to follow up on conversations or simply continue connecting. 

Tip: It’s likely the people you’re reaching out to also made a number of connections, so give context about how you met, what you talked about/how you connected, and what you’d like to gain from the relationship.

And finally, if you’re into sharing your experience on social media, the perfect time to write that post-event social or blog post about your key takeaways is within a few days of the event. 

Whatever your goals for a networking event, setting aside time and energy to properly process your time and learning will ensure you make the most of it. 

Tips to Be Present at a Networking Event

One big challenge with going to networking events is staying present and engaged. With the outside world constantly threatening to pull our attention and energy away, it’s important to create boundaries that keep you focused on the task at hand – learning and networking. If you want to maximize your experience at a networking event, be present.

Here are a few tips for setting effective boundaries so you can make the most of your time at a networking event. 

Set Your Out of Office

And go fully out of the office. Don’t check your email throughout the day. Don’t schedule calls for your breaks. You can’t be fully present with possible new connections or your learning if you’re constantly connected to work and other obligations. Prep your team and clients for your absence just as you would for a vacation and fully sign off.

Get Out of Live Share Mode

Unless you’re in the breaking news media industry, you don’t need to live tweet/post/share from the event. Additionally, focusing on your posting may cause you to miss some seriously good content. Instead, take notes during presentations and post your favorite tidbits later. Speaking of…

Batch Your Posting and Sharing

Resist the urge to post on social media or send learnings emails to your team members during presentations and workshops. Instead, identify gaps in the agenda or wait until the end of the day to share your favorite pictures, videos, quotes, and learnings from the day. However, don’t do this during meal times – that’s prime networking time! Select a time when you can truly evaluate everything you have to share and put together thoughtful bits.

A final tip, review your networking event goals throughout the day to course-correct your focus and energy. Learn how to create your networking event goals here.

How do you maintain your focus during a networking event? Let me know your tips below.

Find More Success at Networking Events by Setting Goals

Are you stuck in an unfruitful networking cycle? Attend a networking event. Exchange information with a bunch of people. Gain a bunch of social media followers. Never connect with those followers. Feel like something is missing. Sign up for another networking event… and the cycle starts over. Imagine how different this would look and feel if you set goals before attending the event.

To make the most of networking events and the relationships you form, set goals for your time there. This may seem simple, but creating a few clear goals will ensure you’re spending time and energy in the right conversations and presentations.

Prior to the event, write out three goals you hope to accomplish. You may find it helpful to have the agenda at hand so you can align your goals with specific speakers, workshops, or other attendees. 

Make your goals clear and specific. A few ideas for goals to get you started:

  1. The type of connections you want to make
  2. Specific people you’d like to speak with and the topic to cover
  3. Skills or topics you want to learn more about
  4. Questions you’d like to find the answers to 
  5. How you want to feel during and after the event

A word of caution – be wary of quantifiable goals such as “get business cards from 10 potential customers.” These types of goals may taint the development of authentic relationships and also may create the impression of “collecting leads.” Instead, focus on creating genuine connections with people based on mutually beneficial needs/wants.

Finally, keep the list with you at the event as a reminder of your goals. You can even check them off as you go! 

Armed with your list of goals, it’s time to network better. Check out this post for tips to level up your networking skills.