Updated: Aug 28, 2018
Ahhhh the dreaded meetings.
Why are they always so terrible? If you feel like you've been wasting your time attending yet another meeting where big ideas are pushed down your throat and yet, nothing ever seems to happen, fear not. You are not alone.
Businesses waste approximately $37 billion on ineffective meetings every year.
That's BILLION. With a B.
And I'm pretty sure I've sat in my fair share of those. Also...to be honest...pretty sure I've hosted my fair share of those.
So what's a leader to do to make more of an impact?
I started tinkering with a new idea of meetings a few months ago during a corporate coaching session on employee engagement. How do you get employees to buy-in to the idea, as if it is their idea, in an empowering way that you as a leader, can support?
Awhile back, I read SPIN SELLING by Neil Rackham. It's not necessarily a typical sales book, as it delves deep into smart questioning to ask potential buyers to selectively sell your services. However, the magic in this mastery, is in the daily ways you can utilize this concept to create results. I've applied these principles to my personal life as well, which is why the love of my life, who has never had a puppy before and was adamant never would, is now the proud owner of a 2.5 lb teacup pomeranian. Manly.
So back to meetings.... (meeting size matters, I'm usually hosting more 1-3 people size meetings so if it's larger keep in mind some situations need more strategy).
1. Establish common ground by asking a relatively simple and straight forward question.
For sales training, I like to ask: What are the 9 steps in your sales call that happen every call in a perfect situation?
2. Then establish the current point of skill for the very thing you want to improve. For sales training, I've asked: Out of those 9, where do you see the most room for you to improve? Or out of those 9, which categories do you think you want to learn more about? Or what do you feel you do best in on those (because that will by default, tell you what is their least performing category). Now...
Some of you may have an employee who thinks that they are perfect and needs no change. When that happens, I play to their strengths and then by omission of what they are best at, I learn where they have perceived room for improvement. Maybe that'll be a different #blog.
Some of you may be thinking it's a huge risk to let employees be able to pinpoint their areas of improvement (gasp! What if they think something different than you had in mind?) Do NOT let this be a deterrent. You can simply mention, that you will do all you can to increase their skillset with what they think needs improvement and you want to add perspective onto another area for the next meeting (and then list your feedback).
3. Establish what areas specifically they see the most room for growth and WANT to improve on.
4. Out of those established areas, have them write out or dream up, the ideal situation.
Example: for sales training, I had employees list out their ideal call. What would happen in a call where they felt the sale went smoothly? How confident did they sound on the phone? How much value did they add to the customer? Etc etc. GET DETAILED on this example with them. This should take up the majority of the meeting as you figure out a "perfect" scenario.
5. Take your top 3 things from the perfect scenario and write them out as GOALS.
For sales training, one employee needed help overcoming the objection of price, so we wrote out what a call would be like if he sold initially on value and didn't immediately start talking price with the customer.
6. Under the goals, have 3 actionable strategies and a deadline (usually by next meeting) to get to those goals. For above example, we discussed 3 questions the employee could ask the customer on the phone, to drive feelings of value about the product. Only when those 3 questions were asked, could price be brought up.
6. Under the goals, have 3 actionable strategies and a deadline (usually by next meeting) to get to those goals accomplished or at least, in the right trajectory. For above example, we discussed 3 questions the employee could ask the customer on the phone, to drive feelings of value about the product. Only when those 3 questions were asked, could price be brought up.
7. Discuss the "why".
Tie the ideal sales call into something that matters for the employee. For example, increased performance and closing ratio means better pay, means you can send your children to private school. RELATE the growth back to the person who will be growing. It doesn't do you any favors to tell them that by growing and working harder, your company will be more profitable. They want to know how it helps them to improve.
For the above example, make sure to start off the next scheduled meeting with the question, "how are you doing in your goals that you established last time we met?"
9. Build credibility by scheduling meetings at least 48 hours in advance. Stick to a start and stop time. Do not cancel or reschedule a meeting unless absolutely required. These meetings are "sacred" time. Come with a well-prepared agenda and plan. It's estimated 37% of meetings start late...don't be in the 37%.
To summarize for you:
1. Establish common ground
2. Establish current point of skill
3. Establish their perception of room for improvement
4. Create ideal situation
5. Create goals
6. Create action strategies per goals
7. Discuss WHY
8. Track performance
9. Build and maintain credibility
The thing is, meetings don't have to be terrible.
They usually aren't effective due to lack of credibility, lack of structure, and employees not feeling like they have adequate buy in or control over how to take the ideas and run with them.
Try these tactics out for your next meeting, I'm here if you have questions.
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