Internal Meetings: Scheduling and Scaling Touchpoints to Amplify Team Investment and Growth
Invest in team members’ growth, and business growth will follow
When we talk about company leadership, we often talk about focusing “upward and outward.” Instead of driving output by yourself, you ought to be driving output across your team so that as the leader, you can take on new opportunities and continue to grow the business.
Naturally, as that growth happens and the demand for the business’s products increases, the demands on your time increase, too—speaking with more customers, representing the brand at more events and conferences, networking in new sectors, bringing in new sales—the list goes on.
To do all that well, your team needs to be able to run smoothly without your constant input. But sometimes, especially in growth-phase start-ups and smaller businesses, they’re not quite able to keep up. They end up taking too long to complete action steps or not completing them to the level you’d hope for. They stall on certain decisions or pass the buck up to you. Ultimately, the work gets backlogged—and you’re the bottleneck.
You can, however, avoid this bottlenecking by creating a clear internal management system that proactively invests in the team by coaching them up to accomplish their increasing demands at a consistently high level on their own, while you focus on what you need to do to grow the business.
Creating an internal management system that works
What does this mean? It means dedicating the time from the get-go to teaching and coaching them through their roles and responsibilities, along with giving them a regular platform within which they can work through their challenges with you.
Too many leaders don’t do this. We assume when we hire someone fresh, the employee will save the day with just a few simple instructions: “Welcome aboard, new salesperson! Go sell! Do your thing!”
But no new recruits can read minds! Without leaders clarifying team members’ roles and providing a space for them to communicate their questions and needs, they can’t deliver the results you expect, because they don’t know what your expectations are to begin with.
Investment and growth
When you invest in your team, you gain a compound return on your investment. Because in prioritizing their growth as professionals and implementing a supportive management system, you both exponentially increase their capacity for decision-making and you make them feel valued and further inspire them to invest in the common vision and goals of the company. It helps establish and maintain a unified direction among the whole company, instead of having each employee running amok in their own disparate directions.
Think about it this way: When you teach a man to fish, he will bring in fish. But when you teach a man to fish and then coach him through improved technique and tactics, he will bring in not just ten fish each day, but 100. And he’ll be able to adapt to the tides as they change.
So how do you do all that? You set up weekly, one-on-one meetings with every employee that reports directly to you, as well as weekly team meetings, in which all of your direct reports are with you in the same place to discuss problems and priorities and then facilitate solutions.
In the one-on-one meetings, each employee gets the opportunity to discuss the challenges they’re facing in their work with you. You then get the opportunity to help walk them through those challenges and help them figure out what they should focus on and how they can solve the problems for themselves. It’s a dedicated, uninterrupted time for that employee to be the focus and be heard.
The meetings also function as a reinforcement of the team member’s responsibilities and your trust in their ability to handle them and scale up when ready. The point is not for leaders to delegate work and give to-do lists for the week. It’s also not for leaders to absorb the work of their employees. Instead, it’s to make clear that you trust them to be able to deliver the work. If leaders take their employees’ work on for themselves, it robs employees of opportunities to grow and breakthrough their own barriers (and creates unnecessary work for the leaders).
Weekly team meetings
The weekly team meetings bring leaders together with all of their direct reports to get everyone communicating on a common set of goals or objectives for the week, the month, or the quarter. The discussions should lead to and be in line with the answers to questions like: Where are we going? What are the discussions we need to have moving forward?
Leaders facilitate this meeting by default, although you can delegate facilitation away to someone else as the management system gets further built into the company’s process and culture. We want to separate from the notion that you have to run the ship yourself; rather, an effective management system makes it so the ship runs well without you always at the wheel.
Schedule a meeting day
What’s been successful for companies I’ve worked with is setting up one designated “meeting day,” on which all one-on-one meetings, department-level meetings, and company-level meetings take place. It gets everyone organized and on the same page so they can go off and execute sufficiently for the entire week.
It’s important that in these meetings, leaders aren’t setting the agenda. The meetings are, again, for direct reports to discuss issues affecting the team. So, as you have one-on-ones, your direct reports should be proposing the meeting agenda to you—not the other way around.
As Elad Gil describes in his book, High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups from 10 to 10,000 People, the best managers stay in sync with their teams and give them enough rope to run independently. They effectively strategize in the company’s interest, reroute action items between team members and away from themselves, and problem-solve to help bring everyone back on track when issues arise.
A well-oiled meeting structure helps ensure the team is clear about which skills they need to improve, what projects they need to prioritize, and where these projects and skills are leading to in the longer run of the company