10 Tips for Making your Operations Meetings More Effective
Every Monday morning tens of thousands of companies around the world head into the office for the often dreaded “Monday morning operations meeting.” This meeting can be an equally boring and unproductive gathering of tired minds for many, but for some, it’s an opportunity to get going past the competition. Whether it’s on Monday or another day of the week, having effective operations meetings is key to running a healthy and profitable organization.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 ways to make your operations meeting more effective, and share some resources within Function Point that can help.
1. Have a Calendar Invite
A calendar invite is an essential tool for keeping everyone on the same page. While often utilized by older millennials and young Gen X’rs, more and more business professionals are embracing the use of calendar invites to confirm meeting attendance. By utilizing calendar invites, you’re able to officially confirm who is and isn’t coming to a meeting so you can plan accordingly.
Setting a recurring meeting ensures no one can use the “I didn’t get the calendar invite” excuse, and as the meeting leader, it gives you the ability to attach an agenda and make updates to the meeting without having to email everyone separately.
Here are a couple guidelines for rolling out calendar invites in your organization:
- Calendar Invites for Gmail
- Calendar Invites for Outlook
- Sending & Using Calendar Invites on the iPhone
2. Prepare Cost Reports in Advance
One of the main benefits of using Function Point to manage your projects is its ability to output reports that give incredible insights that you can use to run an operations meeting. The whole point of tracking expenses and time is to have greater insight into the profitability, or lack thereof, of your jobs. For my company, Clum Creative, a corporate video production company, we use the “Gross Profit Analysis” to essentially serve as a meeting agenda.
Using these reports are important, but by the time the meeting starts, it’s too late to run the report. It should be printed in advance and handed to each meeting attendee so it can be referenced. This will ensure you kick the meeting off smoothly, instead of having to wait around for copies to be printed, stapled and handed out.
Here are some tips on how Function Point can be utilized to help with the running of a smooth operations meeting:
3. Set the Meeting Earlier Than You Want It to Start
If your meeting is set to start at 9, chances are, between people stumbling in a few minutes late and trying to quiet all the side conversations, it’s really starting at 9:10. In order to keep the day moving, schedule the meeting for 15 minutes before you actually want to it to start.
In addition to doing this, setting a serious tone and culture around start times will help increase productivity. If your company has been plagued with a culture of tardiness, here’s a resource for working on reversing it.
4. Start on a Positive Note
Creating teams that root for each other and have camaraderie is vital to team longevity, especially in the straining agency world. Starting each meeting with prompted positive sharing time allows each member of the meeting to feel listened to, expressed, and part of the greater picture.
The first agenda item of every meeting should be to go around the room and allow each person to share one piece of positive business news from the past week
Everyone will take a slightly different approach to “positive” news, but keeping things open-ended allows each person to express themselves and share a little bit more about who they are each week. Including this in the first 15 minutes of your meeting adds a boost a positivity to your week, and keeps people focused on what’s working instead of always focusing on rectifying mistakes.
Really want to get into this? Dive into specific words that can increase positivity in your next meeting.
5. Have a Defined Meeting Leader
There should be clear leadership of the meeting, with each of these three roles clearly defined for your operations meeting:
- Team Leader: The team leader is typically the most ‘senior’ person in the room and the one who answers the high-level questions. They have the most experience and authority in being a final opinion on decisions. The team leader introduces the meeting, passes off to the discussion leader, and then observes and take notes for ways to improve and coach the meeting moving forward. The team leader also oversees the meeting and makes sure nothing is missed by the discussion leader.
- Discussion Leader: The discussion leader is in charge of the flow of the meeting and ensures conversation move smoothly, on time and that each agenda item is covered.
- Scribe: The scribe takes notes, tracks action items, and is responsible for assisting with follow-up items post-meeting.
With these roles defined, your meeting should pass cleanly from team leader to discussion leader, and move swiftly through each agenda item. Without this definition, your meeting is at risk of becoming a free-for-all and having no clear final voice when it comes to disagreements.
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6. Keep Conversations Purposeful
Do not let side conversations run beyond 20 seconds. It’s okay to have a quick side comment or make a little joke here and there, but the team leader should keep side conversations to a minimum in order to keep the focus on the purpose of the operations meeting.
Conversations in the operations meeting should revolve around these particular talking points:
- Project deadline
- Next action items on the project
- Expense approvals
- Client morale
- High-level project creative discussions
- Scheduling of internal resources
Conversation topics to avoid are:
- Opinions on the client (set this aside for a separate 15-minute meeting, if necessary)
- Opinions on the project creative (set this aside for a separate 15-minute meeting)
- Random and pointless conversation lasting over 20 seconds
- Large-scale policy & process changes (keep track of this and set a 25-minute meeting to discuss later)
- Complaints about other team members, the project, the budget, or the client (set a 15-minute follow-up meeting to clear the air)
If these topics do come up, respectfully remind the group of the purpose of the meeting and offer to arrange a follow-up discussion to be had later.
7. Set a Separate Operations Meeting for Those Who Can’t Attend
Especially in smaller agencies, there will be times when vital team members can’t attend the operations meeting. This is one kind of meeting where you don’t want to just say “okay, see you next week.” Set up a condensed version of the operations meeting that includes the team leader, discussion leader, the scribe and the specific individual who couldn’t make it.
8. Set a Culture Around Expenses
One of the main components of an operations meeting is making sure your projects are profitable. Profitability will fall apart unless your team has a strict culture around expenses. The operations meeting is the perfect channel for integrating a meaningful culture around expenses and expense approval.
When discussing each project, as the team or discussion leader, ask penetrating questions about each and every expense. Show that you care about the money and time being spent by directing an appropriate level of criticism towards each expense and time allocation. This will also help promote using a critical eye when they consider spending money and time (which is money) on behalf of the company.
9. Do Quick Tasks in the Moment
Another element of the operations meeting is figuring out the next steps of each project. While some tasks are things like “complete the creative brief” or “export a rough draft for the client’s review”, there are a lot of tasks that can be completed within 10-25 seconds, such as sending a follow-up email.
These tasks should be done immediately and here’s why: coming out of a 90-minute operations meeting, most of the staff will be barraged with emails, new tasks, new client requests and more. The more quick tasks you can complete in the operations meeting, the better. Just make sure these tasks don’t deter the process and flow of the overall operation.
10. End on Time
Ending on time is almost as important as starting on time. Allowing meetings to drift off into the abyss encourages unproductivity and a lack of structure. Ending the meeting on time will staff that their time is respected and will set the tone for future meetings. If there are essential items that still need to be discussed at the end, schedule a follow-up operations meeting for later that day or within the next few days.
These 10 tips have helped our organization drive down costs, improve meeting communications, and making the team more effective and productive. Let us know your tips for keeping operations meetings effective in the comments below!
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President & Founder, Clum Creative
Mike Clum is a media entrepreneur who leads Clum Creative, founded in 2011. The company serves corporations and entrepreneurs around the world producing powerful video assets that drive revenue and solve business problems. He and his company’s work have been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc.com, Business Insider and more.