As a business consultant, I often observe executive team meetings to offer ways to improve their effectiveness. When a team has worked together for years, they can get in a rut by checking off the box that says “executive meeting” without really adding value to one another. They can lose sight of what is pertinent for business growth. New executive teams can struggle to find exactly how to structure their meetings and may over communicate in fear of missing something.
In all cases, all executives can benefit from understanding how to communicate with one another in the best way to build bridges and reduce conflict. I’ve written plenty on the different communication and leadership styles and believe they should be at the foundation of your meetings. Reach out to me should you want to start with an executive retreat that will transform your leadership team. For the purposes of this article, however, I wanted to provide a quick way to increase your executive meeting’s relevance for the day-to-day drive to achieve results for your business growth: root cause analysis.
This concept is not new, especially to larger organizations. Not knowing the size, scope, or complexity of your business, I will simplify this process down to four (4) points that will revolutionize your executive team meetings by eliminating the personal attacks and elevating metrics.
Before I give them to you, let’s have some executive meeting ground rules:
1) You may need to meet weekly but many can and should meet bi-weekly.
2) Each member is given 10 minutes to report on their department/business unit. Have someone be the timer.
3) Someone should facilitate the meeting, keeping topics on hand and tabling any discussions that derail or dive into the weeds. Not sure how this works, I can come in and get you started.
4) Reports should be prepared in advance with copies distributed at the meeting with PowerPoint slides to show any data/metrics.
5) Items identified to report go through a filter of relevance to the overall growth initiatives of the company and how they impact/affect the other executive and their respective teams.
6) Reports are concise, to the point, yet clear.
7) Issues, challenges, and mistakes should be brought to the team but it’s the HOW that should utilize the Root Cause Analysis.
Root Cause Analysis:
Executive team meetings should not be a gripe session, nor should they be an opportunity to blame or throw people under the bus. Truly professional executives take responsibility with the Root Cause Analysis, and here’s how:
1) Each participant openly and honestly shares what went wrong. They communicate what happened and why. They offer insights or facts if known as to what caused production dates to be missed or why a sales forecast is off target.
2) Members immediately offer what actions are being taken right now to correct the issue. They have measures in place already to remedy the situation and course correct.
3) Executives have already developed a strategy to implement moving forward that will prevent this from happening again in the future. It is here that they will petition necessary help from other departments or business units to achieve improved results. They may need to hire additional collection agents, and human resources will be asked to assist them with the search.
4) Each person will have metrics and data that will be used to monitor progress, and they will commit to bringing these metrics to every executive meeting for accountability and responsibility.
I have seen petty, dysfunctional executive teams turn around and become professional and prosperous by implementing this process. Data and metrics take the personal out of it. The numbers are the numbers! You’ve either hit the target or you have missed it. This process is never ending and allows for immediate course correction rather than waiting for something to really go wrong.
One last thing I highly encourage you to add to your executive meetings is having everyone also share one win. We can get fixated on the problems and forget to celebrate the victories. As leaders, your win isn’t your own, and this gives you an opportunity to toot the horn of your team members!
Perhaps your executive team meetings have become stale and are being viewed as a waste of everyone’s time. Time to elevate them and accelerate your success!