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Meeting of the ways

We attended a client meeting recently where the business owner chaired a biannual update for the management team. Meeting twice a year may not seem frequent enough but for this company with five operating sites the sessions work well. Every company and every person has their own way of behaving in meetings – and this was no exception.

Each attendee, including the heads of each site and functional managers, provided an update on their area of the business and a perspective on the year ahead. All routine stuff but it was interesting how each person, all of whom have spent their working lives in small businesses, prepared for the meeting and conducted themselves during the session.

Preparation is driven by how the meeting was set-up and communicated – in this case by the MD owner – and by the habits cultivated from previous meetings. Our advice was to ensure the managers knew they were expected to provide an update but to let everyone independently determine the form it took.

These were not ‘corporate’ career people but operational and production managers more at ease in a factory than positioned between an audience and a PowerPoint presentation. Accordingly, each update was conducted from the individual’s seat with no visual aids and varying degrees of prepared notes. And it worked. It worked because the format was appropriate for the session and allowed each person to be themselves.

Importantly they shared updates on the ways in which they were tackling the opportunities and challenges they face. This sharing of the ways proved to be the most potent part of the session. Immediately afterwards side conversations were struck up along the lines of, “You know that system you are using, tell me more about it.”

The MD provided a great update on the successful acquisitions and growth of the business and we provided a short perspective on the progress of the business in relation to its overall strategy, emphasising how proud the team can be of their achievements and how excited they might be for the journey still to come. But the biggest bonus was the collaboration the session sparked and the opportunity for each to take away a new and improved way of doing something in their business area.

So, how do your teams collaborate and share ideas? Is there a regular meeting like the one we have described, which provides an open forum to learn about different perspectives? Or perhaps it’s something you have been meaning to do for some time.

There’s no reason why that time isn’t now so contact us if you would like us to share some ideas on how you can get the best from people.

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We have talked to other business owners and they are taken aback that we forecast our revenues, costs and cash flow

Meret Maynard
Outspoken Projects

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