Well, I don’t want to alarm you but the chances are good that we DON’T have to meet anytime in the next couple weeks, as we move towards tax season.
(That is, unless something has changed with your Northern Virginia business, and you need our help. Give us a call: (571) 206-1807 or shoot me an email through the email us button at the top of the page, and we’ll get you on our calendar.)
No, today I am here with some thoughts on those necessary evils of running any kind of business at scale: meetings.
But before I get into that, and just in case you hadn’t heard, the IRS has still been running primary operations during the partial federal shutdown. That means that your taxes will still be due (sigh), including your estimated tax payments, and that as the IRS notified everyone last week, filing will begin on January 28th.
So let’s get as far as we can to be “ahead of the game” this year, shall we?
But speaking of getting ahead, I know you’re probably planning some “year-beginning” meetings with your team (perhaps you’ve already had them). May I suggest you keep these principles in mind?
Effective Meetings Guidelines For Northern Virginia Companies Looking For Efficiency
“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” – C. Northcote Parkinson
When was the last time you sat through a meeting thinking, “I do not need to be in this meeting”?
The double-whammy about meetings you don’t need to be in is that other projects that DO need your attention sit idle while you … do the same.
Today, we want to help you discern and decide what a healthy meeting structure looks like. Don’t run into 2019, with tasks and goals ahead, only to have useless meetings slow your momentum.
So how can you and your Northern Virginia team meet and collaborate with purpose? Here are my thoughts:
The First Decision
The first component of calling a meeting, or potentially accepting a meeting invite, is to ask yourself, “Is this meeting completely necessary?” More often than not, the answer should be easy: yes or no.
Is it a meeting that will help you and/or your team collaborate for the sake of a project’s success? Then yes, that’s an example of a necessary meeting. Is it a recurring meeting, from week-to-week, that you know is a time-sucker that turns into storytime with your coworkers? If so, it’s time to reevaluate if that meeting should take place at all.
Creating an Overall Plan
Discerning the necessity of each meeting is in and of itself a collaborative effort. This is where having a regular (perhaps quarterly) meeting to talk with your team about … well, meetings … can be valuable. Discuss with your team about which meetings are working well and which meetings need to kick the curb.
Where technology comes to the rescue is that many in-person meetings today can easily be reduced to simple interactions via Slack, Asana or other online organizational platforms. If you find yourself in 30- to 45-minute meetings that could take a mere few minutes with such a platform, let your team know that might be a worthwhile path to go down.
The second component of planning is to form an agenda for each meeting. Some companies will only require agendas for each meeting longer than 15 minutes, and some companies choose the Amazon approach: detailed reports to be read by every team member beforehand, to help the meeting itself be more informative and effective.
The “No Meeting Zone”
In planning your week-to-week flow, discuss what it would look like for you and your team to set aside “focus times.” These focus times can be up to your staff, and are designated as a specific time slot where no meetings will be held.
How does that sound? No meetings … only uninterrupted space for you to hone in and GET. STUFF. DONE.
Some organizations will make this an entire day (Monday to start the week, Wednesday to break up the week, etc.) or set aside chunks of time (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5pm) in an effort to create weekly rhythms.
Execute, Execute, Execute
We live in an age of distraction. When you lead meetings or simply participate, the last thing any party wants is for individuals to be distracted with their phones, laptops or worse … squeaky stress balls. Set firm rules you know will help keep your team on track — these rules will turn into a part of your culture and create efficiency.
And while efficiency is the goal, help you and your team out by switching up the setting from time-to-time. Meeting in your office on every occasion, no matter how sweet your office space is, can become dull. Go to a coffee shop or park and get some fresh air. This will help your team engage one another and the subject matter in a new, fresh way.
How do meetings look at your office? I would be interested to have you shoot me back an email through the email us button at the top of the page on ways that you run effective meetings, or ways we might help.
Feel free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.