Run an Effective Weekly Meeting

In an operations-intensive environment where the most important thing is the urgent thing, it is hard to get decision makers together to talk about high-level strategic initiatives. Although it’s difficult to slow-down or hold up operations, I caution against getting into the habit of allowing day to day operations to always trump strategic meetings. The reason is simple: the only way to ensure that operational issues are being handled in a way that moves the business forward is by focusing on strategic initiatives. 

Effective food service management meeting

Let's look at an example:

Paradise Catering has been slammed all summer long; most employees have been working 10-12 hour days and the key employees are working on solving one operational problem after another. For the entire summer the weekly management meeting has been skipped because it didn’t seem fair to ask the key employees to work an additional hour after already having worked so much overtime or to put operational issues on the back burner for an hour when their operations teams are waiting on them to be fixed to move forward.

Here's what's really being missed by skipping these meetings: How do the key employees know if things are going good or bad? They are working long hours and they are busy but does this necessarily mean the company is doing well? Do the new customers fit into the vision of the company?

For instance, if the plan is to focus on high-margin weddings and most of the summer business has been corporate catering should they keep saying yes to new business or say no to some and refocus on driving wedding catering? It’s possible that some of these issues are addressed in one-on-one conversations, but it is imperative that the entire team is getting the same message. This is the difference between one person trying to pull the company forward and the entire team driving it forward in the same direction. Imagine being able to do all that in less than an hour a week! If you prioritize routinely aligning your team on strategic initiatives it can happen. 

3 keys to running an effective strategic meeting:

  1. TIME: Be on time & keep time- don’t start late and don’t end late, keep a running clock, and hold everyone to exactly the amount of time they were allotted 
  2. ENGAGEMENT: Employees should be prepared to present their progress and to ask questions of others; accountability is key!
  3. SAY NO: These meetings are not for operational issues, small talk, or things that are only relevant to one person. When these happen say no as quickly as possible and funnel the conversation to a better suited interaction: separate meeting, one-on-one, email memo, etc.