Momentum Podcast: 73

Missing Meetings Is Hurting You

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Let's be honest most meetings suck. As a consultant to Fortune 500 for over 10 years I sat through more worthless and painful meetings than I want to admit.Most meetings I was in should've never been held. There was never a clear outcome, rarely did the entire room know what was trying to be achieved, and there was very little if any process.

It drove me crazy to be in a worthless meeting. I would always think about everything else I could be doing and everything I could be accomplishing if only I didn't have to be there. This isn't only in the Fortune 500, meetings are notoriously one of the things we all can't stand the most. Only a very small fraction of meetings actually are well-run and accomplish their intention.As a result many entrepreneurs fight against scheduled meetings of any kind. 

There are even some coaches out there who will tell you-you shouldn't have scheduled meetings or structure of any kind. This is one of the most dangerous ways to run a company. 

If you are running a business of any size, this episode could change everything for you. Let me explain how having these meetings will grow and scale your company like you never thought possible. 

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers. World makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy. And we are obsessed with creating momentum. So, we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.

Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.

While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we enter the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real.

We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution. And we always will be.

Thanks for being here, this podcast is Missing Meetings is Hurting You. Now, I tried for ever to come up with a better title for this because I'm challenged by the fact that, I think, so many entrepreneurs have required this aversion to having any meeting. That I might be driving people away with the very title of this podcast, Missing Meetings is Hurting You.

But, I felt compelled to do this one this week because this one got a little ... I guess I got a little emotionally connected to this topic this week because a friend of mine who runs a really fast growth company, just an absolute genius, has been reading a lot of materials from a coach that I went to a few years ago. One of the things that that coach says is that in your business you should have no scheduled meetings, like no rescheduled meetings. Like weekly meetings, monthly meetings. And now bureaucracy. So, no ... That's his quote.

But, see the problem is, there's a difference between having effective meetings, and building a bureaucracy. But he says them at the same time. So, entrepreneurs all say, "Great, I hate bureaucracy, so I won't have any meetings."

Here's the challenge, that just doesn't work. Let me present you with a counter argument because I know every entrepreneur out there wants to hear, "Hey, you don't have to have any meetings scheduled at all." I get it, I know how much we all hate meetings. I was a Fortune 500 consultant for over 10 years. I can't tell you how many times I sat through a meeting where nobody why they really were there, or what the outcome was. And it was one of those meetings where everybody just does their role but nobody really understands why they're still doing it. And it's a complete waste of time, I know.

For entrepreneurs, meetings make us uncomfortable. We don't like the whole structure, we don't like to do meetings. So, it's easy to sell us complete garbage like you don't have to have any regular meetings in your company.

Here's why, if you have a clear meeting [inaudible 00:03:35] and by the way, we don't even train meetings. We call the right type of meetings targeted interactions because there's a targeted outcome. It's not a meeting, because meeting implies we get together and we like, meet. No, this is a targeted interaction. We're getting together, we're interacting for a clear outcome. For targeted interactions and the content we teach, there's four things to these.

First, there's a clear intention. You know exactly what you're trying to do coming out of the meeting. They're scheduled in advance, so everybody knows it's coming so they can win in the meeting. They're prime. So, everyone knows ... We actually remind people coming up to these meetings so that they never walk and unprepared. Guys, we want our people to win. And then they're choreographed.

Every meeting has the exact same agenda. We call it choreography because what happens is the entire team learns the choreography, they anticipate the meetings, and then things start really going forward fast.

See, that type of a level playing field for your team, having clear meetings on a clear schedule with exactly what's expected, that creates a level playing field for your team. Now they know when they're going to have to communicate. They know when they're going to measure. There's built in milestones to their job.

And they know when they're checking in. As long as you have a clear outcome for the meeting, you know what everybody is supposed to be doing, then this is going to move your team forward. The other thing is, there's a clear expectation of timing and milestones because you've already set up meetings. Communication canyons around how things are going to happen. So, when you have a clear meeting cadence this will change the way that you do business.

Here's another reason, when you have ... If you go back through your life, if you just think about any time that you had momentum in your life, you're going to find that there was ... It always included predetermined milestones, meetings, and some type of routine.

Now, I know when you started your business it was crazy but think back. Like, meditate on it. You'll find you had a routine, we all did because in the beginning when you're doing everything you have to create it as you go along. Whether you wrote it down or not, you were doing something that was routine. And then that created momentum for you.

You know, periods of momentum in peoples lives are like when a woman ... A lot of women tell me it's when they got pregnant. Or when they first had a child. There definitely was a routine to it, there was a series of meetings. You met with your doctor, there's definitely a way that having those clear expectations for your team will put them in a period of momentum.

And then here's the other side, is that we need to look at this from the team perspective in a business, even if you have a small team. When you don't have meetings, or a clear process for communication, here's what happens.

One, if you grow a decent size company, people are going to have the meetings anyway, you're just not involved. So, if you don't have a clear process for how people are going to get things don't together, if you don't have a clear cadence for communication, you're going to have an informal process, or an informal cadence for communication. Those are terrible, that's why people start hating meetings because informal processes, where it's got a minute, and where it constantly doesn't feel right. It feels like an interruption, it drives everybody nuts.

When you don't have meetings or a process, when you buy into this thing that you don't have to have meetings here's what happens for your team. There's no expected, clear communication schedule because when you have weekly meetings where you update on projects, then everybody knows what's going on. When you have monthly meetings where everyone knows how the company did, sharing of the metrics, understanding what's important to you. What happens is, every time you communicate to your team, it's like getting word from on high.

Whether it's all day, it's too much. And when it's not on a schedule, it's always seen as an interruption but they don't know what's really important. You can come out and have a meeting with them one day, or the next day because here's what happens. A lot of entrepreneurs don't like to have meetings. As a result, maybe you haven't been having pre-scheduled meetings. You're running your business on a fly. That is called personality management. It is one of the hardest ways to run a company because it's also very transactional. So, it's personality management where you're telling everyone what to do. And it's absolutely transactional where you are telling people what to do.

Then you're seeing if it got done. And then you're telling them what to do again, that is the most painful way to run a business. And the way to transform your business, and to be a transformational leader instead of a transactional manager is to shift. And you can go back and listen to the podcast on this. But, shift to, giving clear outcomes, coaching success along the way, and then getting leveraged results.

Well, when you have clear meetings cadences people know exactly how to communicate with you, and then they know when you're going to communicate with them. This is crucial to them having momentum. Here's another reason, I want to make sure none of you buy into this garbage.

I'll tell you the right type of meeting. Like I said, it's a targeted interaction. But, let me explain a little bit more about that in a second because here's what will happen. What will happen is instead of your team having clear expectations, knowing when they're going to be measured, knowing when to communicate with you, having milestones. You're going to do this crazy thing where you just go randomly check with people.

And here's the problem. You are the CEO, you are the entrepreneur in charge, you're one of the partners. You're running things, or you're a leader in a company. You're managing people, you have responsibilities they don't have. I want you to understand something, what you say will be heard through a megaphone, and what you do will be seen through a microscope. So, when you go out and do random meetings, it always raises pressure and noise for people.

Here's what ... You know, there's this term, management by walking around, let me share a secret for growing really happy teams with you. Don't ever buy into that garbage. Management by walking around is insanity.

I know that this is one of the most long standing management practices, or leadership practices. I know that there's consultancies that actually train this. It's just complete BS. You've got to ... I was a consultant on both sides of the table to the CEO. But, then, I also worked with the teams. I can tell you that from the team perspective nobody pulls of management by walking around.

It is always seen as first, it's an interruption. Like, why am I getting interrupted right now? Because it was random to the person in the chair. And the more often, the more random it feels. It's like your team does not like this. They want to have a routine, they want to have a clear schedule, they want to be in momentum.

The second thing that they feel ... So, first it feels like an interruption, then it feels like an investigation because what are you going to do? You're going to end up asking questions. You're not just going to make definitive statements. So, you ask a few questions, you want to find out what's going on. And then the more it lasts, it feels like an interrogation. So, you've got interruption, investigation, interrogation. Your team is not happy.

And consultants will convince you that managing this way, and leading this way, it connects you to your team. And you're going to build relationships, and you're going to get to know them better. No, you can't do that.

I'm sorry. It doesn't work. Like, your team doesn't want random interruptions from you. They don't want interrogations. They want a clear way to win. When you set up a clear cadence targeted interactions in your company, where they have clarity and they know when they're going to be measured, when they're going to communicate, when they're going to get updates, then they can win in a system like that. They know when you're going to communicate with them.

They're not waiting for word from on high, and here's the key, you are infinitely more likely to be understood about where the company is going, what's really important to the entire team, what you really want the organization to know about what's happening. And they will hear it better because they know it's coming.

There's a reason people like episodic shows because they know what's coming. If you watch Friends enough times, and this is ... I know there's some people listening who probably know what that is. But, if you watch Friends enough times, you know there's a formula to exactly how that show works. Yet, you watch it again because it's familiar. How much would your company change if you made your meetings that familiar for your team and they felt that comfortable in the meetings. Where they could preform at their best, they could give you their best input.

They could really give you everything you need to grow the business because let's be honest guys, once you get past a few people, if you're making every decision on your own. If you're not getting team input, if you don't have a clear communications cadence with that team, then you're making mistakes that you could avoid because if they can communicate with you in a way that they can win, you're going to hear way more about what's going on in that company. And this doesn't mean that if you've gotten 250 or 100, or 200, or 300 without clear meeting communication cadence that you're winning. What it means is you're over coming the lack of clear structure that every team needs to be in momentum.

You're probably doing that because you have a really good product, and you have a really good market. And you've found a way to sell really well. But, I can tell you that looking at a hyper clear cadence, where everyone knows what's going on, it changes the entire business because when everyone understands the structure in which they can win, everyone in the company gets into momentum.

Think back to any period of momentum in your life, and you had a clear outcome. You had transparency, there was measurement. There was some sort of structure, some type of timing you understood along the way. And there was accountability for what you were doing and the people around you were doing. And when teams have a clear communication cadence, they have a disproportionate habit of winning like crazy. I work with some incredible companies. Like, right now, I'm working with companies that I've started with when they've been sub 10 million. Actually, one that I started with when they were subbed, I think, two million.

They are now hitting run rates where they're at the over 10 million dollar mark. And one of the processes I use every time is putting clear communication practices in place. Which means clear meetings, with clear understanding of when we're going to get updates from the CEO, on the schedule. And when this happens, it's amazing how teams show up. How they are excited to work. How they won't go home. And how, in a lot of cases, you start getting insane amounts of discretionary time. You know, in one of the companies I coach, they are actually ... They have to talk to their teams about taking weekends off because they're so pumped to work for the company that they're working seven days a week.

I know that happens in meetings without a clear cadence, but, I've been doing this for a long time. And the fastest way to get to this ideal condition for a company is to have a clear communication cadence. And here's the ideal condition for the company. When I was a management consultant, sometimes I was asked to evaluate organizations. A practice I would use is to go into the company, and I would find the most entry level, or lowest paid ... Because let's be honest, a lot of times I'm looking for the lowest paid person, who is actually a W2 employee, and not some type of a contractor. So, there might be a cleaning service that is contracted. But, I'm trying to find who is that entry level person?

In a lot of companies, it's like a receptionist, or somebody who is an office manager, or someone who is in a warehouse. Or someone who is in some type of entry level creative position. What I would do in every organization is go from that entry level designer to the guy who works in the warehouse. I would ask if they knew where the company was going. I knew that if I found an organization where all the way down to everyone in the organization had some understanding of where it was going I knew I was talking to an extraordinary company, and that they had a clear communication cadence. And their team had a clear structure to win within. I would follow up on that hypothesis by asking more targeted questions and my evaluations were really easy because if you find a company where everyone know, has some idea where the company is going, that company is going to win.

I'll ask you right now, in your organization, does everyone have real clarity about where you're going? Do they know how they're going to be measured? Do they know what to expect? Are you giving them everything they can to win? If not, don't buy into this no meetings or bureaucracy strategy.

Here's what you do, you have minimum effective dose meetings. You have a clear intention, you schedule them in advance. You prime them so everyone knows how to win, they know what the meeting is about. And then you have clear choreography where you get in, and you get out. And the meeting tasks as long as it has to, not as long as you scheduled.

And when you do this, I'll share some math with you. We show CEO's how to do this because here's what every CEO needs, they need more time. I just had a group here in town, this week, because when you start running a business and growing a team, the one thing you always feel like you could use more of is time. I'm not saying maybe time in the business, but, here's what all of us ... It's like, I want more time with my spouse, more time with my kids, more ... There's somewhere in our life that time could help us.

I've coached hundreds of entrepreneurs at all different levels. And one of the things that I can tell you is extraordinarily statistically similar is that when an entrepreneur does not have a clear communications cadence they're using about 50% - 70% of their time to manage and grow the business because they're doing it by personality. They're doing what I said earlier. To check if it got done, to do again. And their team really can't anticipate their moves like they should. Here's what we do with clear meeting guidelines, and making them targeted where you don't get off track. You go from spending 50% - 70% of your time.

Which, by the way, most CEO's work between 2,000, which is very low. And 3,000 which is still kind of low, but that's the highest measure I use. If it's 50% - 70% of your time, we're talking 1,000 to 1,500 hours a year. And for most of you it's probably more than 1,400 hours a year. It's probably more. It's probably higher than that because you're working more hours, and the percentage is probably higher.

So, what we do, with targeted interactions we show people how to do this in about 300 hours a year because you don't want to commit to no meetings. You want to commit to clear meetings, with a clear understanding of what's going on. Where everyone can win, and your team feels fully supported. And when you do that, you can take all of the time that you've been spending without wanting to, and without realizing it on personality base management.

And you can transition into transformational management. So, you go from personality to process, you will shift from transactional, to transformational leadership. When you do that, everything in the business will change because everyone, not just you, can start anticipating where things are going, knowing how to win. They get comfortable winning, they get more and more ... Winning starts feeling easier and easier. And if there's anything you want to do as a CEO, you want to condition your team to win. Believe me.

I've had both. I've had companies that have flown up like crazy, but I've also had companies that due to market condition, or due to other stuff, we've gone down. When a team is winning, it is infinitely easier to lead them, and to move them in the right direction. When a team starts losing, or feeling like they're losing, it's near impossible.

So, having this clear structure gives every person in your business an equal opportunity to win, and to move the company forward. So, don't buy into the whole no meetings thing. But, do make sure that you're doing it in the minimum effective dose possible because that means you're not wasting your teams time, you're not wasting your time, you're just creating the structure where everyone can win.

If you're running a business, where this is an issue. Where you want to understand how this works and be able to ... Instead of feeling like you're pushing or pulling your business everyday, you want to be able to call your shot, and have everyone on the team support you in getting there in a clear, cohesive way, we should talk. Contact our office, you can just go through our website it's

Let us know how big your company is, and what you're dealing with. And I'd love to connect with you. We have a mastermind that has just blown up in the past few weeks. I think Cadey booked six calls for it today. So, we are helping entrepreneurs put this process in place and it's been proven. I've tested on Fortune 500 companies, I've tested it with start-ups. We're now in the process of helping several businesses like I said, go from the low seven figure, or maybe around seven figure range to the 10 figure run rate.

And what's also important is a lot of businesses that were around 700 are now breaking into the 1 million plus. So, if you're in around 700 or more, and growing, and you know you have more opportunity, and you know the right infrastructure around you would help you get there, you've created enough opportunity that you can't fulfill it right now from 700 up to well over 10 million, the mastermind we have will help you radically change how you're leading, and radically change how much you're transforming your company.

Thanks for being here with you, I look forward to sharing again with you tomorrow.

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