Get on the same page

Any entrepreneur who has enjoyed sustainable growth will preach the virtues of getting the senior management team on the same page. A common feature of businesses that are constantly firefighting is there is no common purpose, shared vision or strategy that’s binds them together. These shortcomings become compounded by poor communication resulting from insufficient internal conversations. Tell tale signs are no regular meetings or structured agenda in management sessions, failure to monitor performance against targets, meetings cancelled, people avoiding them because they have to be somewhere else (?). It’s no surprises that the outcome is a dysfunctional organisation which changes direction like the wind – the situation ends up with no one having a clue as to what’s going on, misunderstandings, people making assumptions and more serious, lack of accountability.

Whilst I am not an advocate of meetings for meeting sake, the importance of getting together regularly to monitor the important things is critical. Weekly or monthly meetings to review financial performance, cash flow, profitability, debtors, creditors, sales pipeline, work in progress, customer feedback, people performance, successes and issues which need sorting are pivotal to good housekeeping. Failure to put these disciplines in place will lead to a mob mentality.

These meetings should go in the diary, they are not optional, the team must turn up – those accountable should provide a structured statement as to state of play. Failure to do so will result in a feeling of being all over the place. No one knows what’s going on and a fragile business creaking at the seams will rapidly present itself. It’s the leaders role to put these disciplines in place – it’s the heart of teamwork. Quarterly more strategic meetings must also be instigated to review the big picture. Questions such as are we heading in the right direction, plans for new products, investments, resources, new markets, cash requirements, new marketing initiatives and additions to the team should feature in the debate.

One of the missing ingredients I regularly see is meetings which have no minutes, actions or outputs with allocated responsibilities and timescales. Meetings become effective when what is agreed is reviewed and monitored. Actions must be documented as these form the basis of any follow-up sessions.

The above may seem like a statement of the obvious, but the obvious is often very deceptive. Poor communication is such a common problem in small growing companies. Meetings can be seen as something only big companies do, however, regular sessions reviewing what’s going on delivers a massive pay back to the entrepreneur and the team. Individuals become accountable, no one can hide and all together it delivers a smoother more efficient business where everyone is on the same page. Growth equals more meetings, can be painful, but got to be done.

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