Can you manage your entire company in one day per week? I know, this sounds impossible but it isn’t. Establishing a meeting rhythm that allows you to align your organization while reducing 80% of communication throughout the day seems like the dream. Consistent communication creates transparency and moves information quickly through an organization.
The CEOs who work with me often get a complete schedule makeover so they can spend most of their time on the important (not urgent) things such as strategic thinking, execution planning, and building big relationships. Rather than people chasing each other to find a time to talk or discuss important updates, meetings are recurring and pre-scheduled, preventing people from randomly interrupting each other during the week. If your team is not communicating on a regular basis, it’s difficult for everyone to stay aligned with the company priorities and critical numbers when setting their individual objectives.
Implementing daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings with individuals, teams, as well as the entire company may seem like overhead at first… and it is. But without a proper management system that assures consistent communication, a scaling organization will create execution issues and lots of drama as it grows. Trying to keep up with what’s going on without blocking designated times for it, is a recipe for disaster.
Below, you can find a meeting framework based on Verne Harnish’s book Scaling Up — which has been implemented by over 70.000 companies globally, Matt Mochary’s book The great CEO Within, and my own experience working with CEOs and their executive teams. Here some of the most apparent benefits:
- Continuously communicating strategic priorities and keeping the organization aligned
- Progress updates and accountability on OKRs (Objectives and Key results)
- Bringing the company’s core values and purpose alive and shaping the culture
- Providing continuous feedback to drive individual performance and develop managers
- Strengthening teams with members understanding each other’s differences and styles
- On-boarding new employees smoothly and helping them realize their potential
… and the list goes on. Bluntly, if you’re not implementing some version of the meeting rhythm below, you’re leaving tremendous amounts of time, money, and unrealized potential on the table. For any questions or comments, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Daily Huddle (also called Daily Standup) is a 10–15 minute meeting to discuss tactical issues and updates. Bringing the entire team together daily / every other day saves everyone an average of an hour of email updates and interruptions throughout the rest of the day. Big issues that arise will be addressed at weekly team meetings (see below). This meeting tracks progress and brings out sticking points that are blocking execution. Leaders participate in two daily huddles every day, one with their peers and one with the team they manage. This meeting doesn’t take place on the day of the weekly team meeting. Each person covers the agenda below in no more than 1,5 minutes.
- Big news/wins to share from yesterday? Not required and not detailed. Only big, notable updates.
- What’s will happen today? Determine the main objective/priority for the day. It’s important to share specifics about the progress goal of what’s going to happen — what, who, why, when, how. Generalities make the daily huddle unproductive and defeat the purpose of information flow.
- What will make today successful? At the end of the day, what will be accomplished that will make the day successful. The goal of #2 is what helps achieve this outcome.
- Where are you stuck, what are the challenges? If a person doesn’t get stuck at least once a week, they’re either not being honest or not making progress. Who or what is holding you back from moving forward?
Weekly Team Meeting
The Weekly Meeting brings together each team for 60–90 min to review progress on quarterly priorities (OKRs) and tap into the team’s collective brainpower to address one or two main topics. By reviewing the Scoreboard — a dashboard that displays current progress by tracking KPIs and OKRs, the weekly meeting keeps priorities top-of-mind. Leaders participate in two weekly team meetings, one with their peers and one with the team they manage.
3 minutes: Share Good News — Sharing good, both professional and personal news, creates a positive start to the day and lets people connect on a human level with one another. Don’t ever skip this step. It sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.
2 minutes: Values — Team leaders highlight the principle / behavior of the week, give context and examples how to bring it “alive”.
5 minutes: Review OKRs (strategic & operational). — Review the status of quarterly team OKRs and discuss any gaps in progress.
30–60 minutes: Discuss and Solve Issues Collectively (operational / tactical). — This is where the team focuses only on one (or two) key topics and solves issues collectively. Create an issues list to collect any patterns and trends from the daily huddles, feedback from customers and employees, unrealized potential and/or the opportunities and challenges that have surfaced. Make sure to always choose the most important and urgent topic to address, otherwise the team wastes valuable time discussing something irrelevant. This is also the time where current projects, client deliverables, etc. are discussed. The main reason why everyone came together to move things forward fast.
Who What When summary. — Just before the meeting ends, take a few minutes to summarize, “Who said they are going to do What, and When,” and take notes (in a shared document) or email the notes to everyone. This drives accountability since the actions for the upcoming week will be reviewed the next time.
Weekly One-On-One Meetings
Reports need to prepare for this meeting 10 min in advance. These 25 minute meetings are scheduled back to back, with 5 min breaks, between managers and their direct reports. Depending on the size of their team, each manager spends up to one day per week in meetings with their peers, their manager, and their direct reports. This day helps clear the remaining four days of the week for productive execution and prevents people working on the wrong things. A team is too big if it can’t be managed in one day (60–90 min peer team meeting, 25 min with their manager, and up to 8 direct reports in 1-on-1s).
Move quickly through the agenda below:
Accountability (goals and actions): 5 min
- For each of your weekly actions from last week, did you get them done, yes/no?
- If not, what blocked you? What do you think you/we can do differently to not hit this obstacle again?
- For each of your OKRs, which actions will you take this week to work towards achieving them?
- How can the manager enable / support their direct report to fulfill the action?
Issues and solutions: 10 min
- Identify any urgent or important issues. This could be related to their OKRs or a more general issue to be resolved that has not gotten the time it deserves. This could be a roadblock, issue with team members, approach, flawed process, projects, customer feedback, in their own life, etc.
- Let direct reports propose a solution that includes what the direct report can do to solve the issue and what the manager can do to help unblock. Even if you are unsure of what the right course of action is, take a stab at a definitive roadmap to fixing/improving. It will help advance the conversation.
Ensure that their proposed solutions are the straightest line to solving the issue.
Values: 2 min
- How did you live one of the company’s values last week?
Feedback: 5 min
- What did you like that I did as a manager?
- What do you wish that I would do differently as a manager? — Please think of the feedback that you are afraid to give me because you think that it will hurt my feelings. Please give me that feedback. (The purpose of this is to be transparent and to help each other work better together).
- What actions did you like that the report did? Be specific
- What actions you wish that your report would do differently. State these as specific future actions.
Who What When summary: 3 min
Weekly Council Meeting / Founder Forum
This is a very strategic meeting. The executive team gets together on a weekly basis for one hour to “look ahead” and spend time in the market, discussing long-term plans, challenges, and opportunities outside and within the the company. This is also the meeting to work on becoming a a better leadership team, supporting each other, giving peer feedback, and working on improving the company as a whole.
Monthly Company Wide Meeting / All Hands
Once a month, it is important to have an hour long company-wide meeting to address a couple of larger issues, share the results of the weekly leadership team meetings and give direction — continuously revisit the Strategic Plan. The CEO highlights notable accomplishments, both by the company and individuals (public praise is a huge motivator for people), shares insights from board meetings and big partnerships, etc. The heads of departments give progress updates of department OKRs, big news and challenges.
Allow time for anyone in the company to bring up their own issues and to provide feedback. In this meeting people come together to share ideas, learn, find solutions, and grow as a team.
Quarterly Strategic Planning Meeting
Once a quarter, the leadership team meet offsite for a day to update the Strategic Plan and set OKRs for all departments. The outcomes then get passed on to middle and frontline management during the next company wide meeting to keep everyone aligned and focused on the main priorities. Here a more detailed version.
The Past — Do a retrospective on the prior quarter.
- How did we do against our OKRs and KPIs?
- How did we function as a team?
The Future. Plan for the future quarter
- Update the One Page Strategic Plan. (Purpose, Values, Vision, etc.).
- Review and check of the Rockefeller Habits Checklist.
- Dig into bigger issues/proposed solutions
- Update the Org Chart and Areas of Responsibilities for each department and Scorecards (responsibilities and measurable outcomes for each leader).
- Review financials in Cash Flow Story and use the CASh and Power of One worksheet.
- Set the new company OKRs (which then will cascade to Departments, Teams and Individuals).
Bond. Get to know and like each other as human beings.
- DISC, Kolbe, Myers Briggs, CliftonStrengths, High5 Test, ELI™ Assessment, and other assessments that help leaders understand each other’s strengths, differences, and styles.
- Peer Feedback session (tools for improving team dynamics — Five Dysfunctions of a Team)
- Structural activities — Collect superficial personal information (to generate more interesting personal conversations)
- Unstructured activities — Dinners and Drinks, Sports, activities, etc., Events with spouses.
Annual Strategic Company Offsite
A 2–3 day long offsite retreat of strategic planning for the upcoming year and to update longer term objectives. This meeting is similar in agenda to the quarterly executive team meeting, however it’s more strategic in scope focusing on the core ideologies and the company’s BHAG™ while strengthening the leadership team and letting members bond with each other.
A consistent meeting rhythm plays a big part in effective execution in a scaling organization. It sets the foundation for communicating the company’s strategic priorities, keeping everyone aligned and updated on progress of OKRs. It creates a culture of accountability, transparency, and feedback. A communication rhythm is the heartbeat of an organization, the faster it grows, the more frequent people need to meet to stay on track.