July 6/13; Volume 30/Number 2
By David Romano
There are good meetings and there are bad meetings. Bad meetings drone on forever, you never seem to get to the point, and you leave wondering why you were even present. Effective ones leave you energized and feeling like you’ve really accomplished something.
One essential quality of a good leader is the ability to run an effective meeting, unlike poorly skilled managers who have little respect for their teams’ time. Running an effective meeting takes more than sending out a notice; it requires structure and order. With a solid objective in mind, a tight agenda and a commitment to involving participants in the planning, you are well on your way to chairing great meetings.
I know many of you may think you do not run a “corporation” and this does not apply to your family-run business. You may even think your dozens of impromptu meetings are actually effective and motivating. In reality, that style is annoying to sales associates, hinders productivity and is extremely ineffective. It is even more debilitating to expect your business to improve when you do not communicate well or meet often with your team.
According to a substantiated survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred floor covering business owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013, independent flooring stores that held monthly management meetings:
- Were on average 48% larger ($3.9 million vs. $2.6 million)
- Had a higher gross profit (36% vs. 35.1%)
- Owners earned $12,228 more in annual income
- Sales productivity or average sales per associate was nearly $60,000 greater
- Employee productivity or average volume handled by each full-time equivalent was nearly $26,000 greater
- Number of days receivable was lower
- Close rates were identical (45% respectively)
So what does an effective meeting look like in the flooring industry?
They provide an agenda. The agenda should list topics to be covered and contributors.
They start and end on time. Disciplined meetings are about mindset—a shared conviction among all participants that meetings are real work. That all-too-frequent expression of relief, “Meeting’s over, let’s get back to work,” is the enemy of good meetings. They should last no longer than 90 minutes.
No one wanders off topic. Participants should spend more time discussing than digressing. Stick to your agenda.
Set objectives for the near future. Convert from “meeting” to “doing” by creating task lists to be completed by a certain date and hold the team accountable.
Real results are discussed. Get data—not just furniture—into meeting rooms. Look at sales, traffic, close rates, average transaction, margins by customer type, margins by product, cash flow, actual vs. budget, sales associate performance and any other measure you feel is critical to track.
They have an element of continual improvement. Require your management team to read a book or attend a seminar and present to the group what they learned from it.