What managers should be communicating to their teams and how often
Are you communicating in rhythm?
Over the past few months, I’ve had many conversations about what managers should be communicating to their teams and how often. Countless companies feel they’re doing a great job of communicating only to find out they’re not.
Do a little test for me. Right now, walk around your company and ask each employee, “What’s your goal today?” How close are they to what you’d want them to say? The reality is many employees don’t even know what’s expected of them each time they come to work. How do we change that? You “communicate in rhythm.”
Communicating in rhythm means everyone knows and is working toward the same goal. Your entire staff needs to know exactly what’s expected of them and what their roles are in helping your organization meet its goals. This is critical to the success of your company.
To “communicate in rhythm” you should conduct routine meetings with your teams to ensure all your employees know exactly what’s expected of them each day. These daily goals aren’t something you should come up with just because they sound good. They’re goals that management has developed and approved.
I can hear what you’re thinking. “Here we go again. I need to add another meeting to my schedule?” Yes, but focus on the outcome of these meetings, which is a clear understanding of what needs to be done to achieve the goals you’ve laid out. Focus on changing the outcome of today so you can improve on the results from yesterday. If you didn’t hit the goal yesterday and don’t change the course, how can you expect different results? The goal is to have meetings with clear objectives.
Now that you understand the importance of this meeting, don’t stop there. You need more meetings! Collectively, they’ll change the direction of your company because you’ll be communicating in rhythm.
1. Hold annual strategic planning sessions with all management and key players to identify annual goals.
2. Break these annual goals into quarterly goals to be discussed in quarterly check-in meetings.
3. Break these quarterly goals into monthly goals to be discussed in monthly check-in meetings.
4. Break these monthly goals into weekly goals to be discussed in weekly check-in meetings.
5. Break these weekly goals into daily goals to be discussed in daily huddles.
Let’s look at each of these meetings and what you’ll get out of them.
Annual strategic planning session
I often ask contractors how frequently they conduct annual strategic planning sessions. The majority say never; in fact, most don’t have a plan of any kind. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you expect to get there? Would you take your family on a trip across the country without having some type of plan or roadmap to get you to your destination? I would hope not. So why do you expect your business to be what you want without a roadmap?
This annual planning session should be designed to build your roadmap, complete with revenue, gross margin, overhead and net-income goals. Some of you refer to this as a budget. Notice that I didn’t use the word “budget” in the title for this section. Accountants can prepare budgets for us relatively easily. A plan, however, should be built from the ground up with the budget as a byproduct.
Start with the number of calls you need to run in a year and work your way up to a revenue number. Then strategically look at things you can do to improve margins and overhead spend. Staffing plans also should be generated. We all know how hard it is to find good employees these days. If you have a solid plan, you’ll be ahead of the staffing requirements to achieve your plan.
Once the annual plan is in place, you need to break it down into 100-day plans. On this trip across the country we discussed earlier, you’ll likely check in from time to time. This is what the quarterly meetings are for.
Let’s say you’re running behind schedule on the first segment of your trip and need to pick up some time. In these quarterly meetings you’ll make adjustments that will keep you on track toward your annual goal. These meetings should be general in nature; you should focus on the big-picture items that need to be accomplished during the current 100 days. The monthly meetings, described below, will focus on the specifics.
Would you attend a football game that has no scoreboard? Would the game be as exciting if you didn’t know the score? Then how could you expect your employees to be excited about all their accomplishments if you don’t give them a scoreboard?
Monthly meetings are when you review and discuss how you finished each month and agree on your objectives for the next month. I personally like the idea of having monthly meetings with the entire company. If you don’t address how the company is performing with everyone, many of your employees won’t know how you’re doing.
Don’t meet just to have another meeting; meet with the intention of making changes and providing clear direction for the next month.
I know how busy you are each day and that before you know it the month is almost over and you’ve not started working on your objectives. Weekly meetings are essential to keeping your plans on track.
These meetings usually are done on Monday afternoons. Your entire management team needs to check in on the progress they’re making toward their monthly goals. Everyone needs to talk about what they’ve accomplished and what they’re working on. The purpose is to make sure you’re staying on course and not falling behind on your plan.
This is arguably the most important meeting you should have. Why? This is the meeting where you make decisions that will change the outcome of each day.
I frequently ask contractors how their daily huddles are going. A typical response is, “It’s going good.” I usually follow with, “What’s your goal today?” Usually what I learn is that their plans aren’t specific enough to change the outcome of each day. Too many times, daily huddles are where managers just report on what happened yesterday; they don’t focus on changing the outcome of today.
What’s the purpose of having a meeting where you only reflect on yesterday? There’s nothing you can do about yesterday. What you can do is take all the opportunities you missed yesterday and do something different today.
This meeting has to be mandatory for your management team so that you make sure everyone knows their goal for the day and what it will take for you to “win the day.” When the management team leaves this meeting they should go directly to their teams and communicate what needs to be done. Effectively doing this typically uncovers where your problems are, which is the critical first step in figuring out how to fix them.
A 15-minute daily meeting can mean millions in additional revenue at the end of the year.
Let’s get to work
These meetings I’ve described will change the outcome of your year if you conduct them with the attitude that you’re providing clear direction. Again, don’t meet just to meet. Meet to provide direction for your company. Don’t drive across the country with no plan. It will take you longer to get there and cost a lot more money.
Follow my advice and you’ll get to your goals in less time and by spending less money.