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4 purposes of business meetings

4 purposes of business meetings

Strengthen Communication Within the Team

While strong and clear communication is essential in any business environment, it becomes particularly crucial when team dynamics and project success are at stake. For instance, I noticed a particularly high emphasis on open communication during our quarterly strategic planning sessions at the mid-sized software development company where I used to work.

The meetings were used to break down barriers between different departments. They would usually start with presentations from each department on their recent successes and challenges. For example, during one such session, the development team reported that they had shortened the average time between software releases from six weeks to four weeks. Nevertheless, they still struggled with effectively incorporating the customer service department’s feedback in time.

The presentations were followed by smaller breakout groups, which were specifically allocated to address the identified issues. Here, team leaders and members defined their exact goals and means of communication. Several suggestions could be made on the spot, which could be immediately put into action.

An example of such actionable planning was when we decided to implement a new ticketing system to enable the customer service representatives to submit bugs directly into the development team’s internal tracking system.

Develop Actionable Plans with Immediate Effect

Clear, actionable planning was another key element of my effective business meetings. While it is generally applicable, it was particularly effective in project kickoff meetings, as having a structured and actionable plan from the start is crucial. For each such meeting, I would make sure that clear roles are defined and immediate tasks are allocated. For example, when we were planning the launch of a new mobile application, the marketing team was tasked with preparing a marketing campaign to start three weeks before the launch and aimed to reach 500,000 eventual users, based on the best of our previous campaigns.

Facts of Life

Meetings are inevitable and will always serve the basic functions of business life: sharing information, making decisions, and planning for the future. As such, the goal of any of such gatherings is not only to finish by establishing a united goal that all parties are aware of, bu tto increase feasibility of the commitments and the depth of the pool of possible solutions. In case of one particular problem phase of the project, two months after onboarding, the client satisfaction scoreshave dropped pretty significantly by approximately 15% and, naturally, a client meeting had been called. All team members from sales, customer service and technical support were invited to contribute to resolution of the issue were highly encouraged to share their insights, as much fun as the proposal to fill out a form, the comments included. The realization that lack of attention to great inter-departmental communication and the delay in responses being the issue. As a direct result of the meeting, new communication protocol between departments had been established and weekly cross department meet-up were instated. Andrew Pometnev shared that the idea about constantly looking for innovations and implementing them during the meeting came to him during annual review meetings. Atwe get a chance to propose ideas on how to improve our workflow or suggest possible changes. One of those ideas, born in the mind of our software engineer, backed up by the AI specialist, helped to reduce our client complaints by 20%.

Align Team Goals and Vision

I believe successful business meetings are critical for aligning the vision and goals of a team. While such alignment is even more important during large strategic shifts or launches of big new initiatives, regular meetings are still to be held at any point of time. At a digital marketing firm I have previously worked, we established quarterly alignment meetings to synchronize each team’s work with the company objectives. Usually, the meeting was opened with the leadership describing the current state of the company affairs and the strategic objectives for the next quarter. If the company objective was to increase the market share by 15% in six months, the alignment meeting would focus on how the objective is broken down into each team’s goal to accomplish during the quarter. For example, the sales team would be responsible for increasing the lead generation by 20% while the product team would be required to improve a few of its features, as it was suggested by the last market research, and so on.

Break Down Large Goals to Manageable Chunks

The key outcome of the meeting is to break a large goal into manageable pieces of work for each team, and even each team member, to have an understanding of what their work contributes to the company’s larger goal. During one of the first meetings, we discussed our next product we were to launch and decided to conduct research before the development work. Our project manager prepared a Gantt chart where each team and each team member were assigned several tasks with a timeline: research team was to deliver the results of the market research of a competitor’s, B2B customer’s and final consumer’s product in three weeks, afterward, the product development team was to conduct sprints once every two weeks.

Regularly Review Objectives and Progress

Another essential part of the alignment meeting is the discussion of actual work progress in regards to the goals set several months ago. The regularity of such discussions helps to initiate them timely in the case teams are lagging. For example, at the same digital marketing company, we used to hold regular monthly meetings for each team separately to discuss their recent progress and set up a new month’s objective. During objective review, the stakeholders of each team were presented with such data as sales growth, customer engagement score, and product development milestones. If any team was lagging behind the schedule, brainstorming sessions would help to initiate the search for solutions like reshaping resources or extending deadline .

Strengthen Relationships and Morale

Effective business meetings are not only concerned with the objectives and outcomes of the discussions but also an essential part of relationship building and increasing team morale. My previous company, which was a mid-sized tech startup, had a regular monthly meeting structure that addressed the work-related topics and included team-building activities. One of the first items on the agenda was a success circle, where people reported on their personal or professional achievements over the last month. It was beneficial for recognizing individual efforts and group celebration of the small victories. For instance, on one of the previous sprints, when we upgraded the core platform and launched the whole logistics software without any critical bugs, it was acknowledged at the meeting.

Engage in Activities’ Team Building

Interactive activities are essential for creating the atmosphere of community and collaboration. My favorite example is the “Escape Room Challenge” when people were divided into random groups that included all the departments, and the task was to solve a series of puzzles and “escape” from the room within a limited time . Although simple and fun, it helped to “break the ice,” especially with the people one had less interaction at work and resulted in developing the problem-solving skills in a stress-free environment.

Create Opportunities for Open Feedback

A reliable way to build relationships is to allow open feedback and create a safe working place when people are allowed to voice their concerns. Due to the regular rhythm of these meetings and the anonymous feedback system, the problematic areas were frequently exposed. For instance, at one of the meetings, it was reported by several team members that they were overwhelmed with project load and were unable to fulfill their responsibilities in a timely manner. This feedback led to adjustments in project management and changes in project deadlines and re-allocation of human resources to facilitate the workload for our specialists.

Celebrate Individual and Group Achievements

Last but not least, it is important to celebrate individual and group achievements. The vivid example of these is when a team member working on my project stayed late to complete one specific task due on the next day. At the meeting, it was told as an example of utmost dedication to the job and the company in general, which was a confident morale boost for this person.

Cultivate Creative Solutions

Meetings, at which creative solutions are being discussed, are essential for any business but especially for the industries, where innovation is the key to success. At my leading design companies, the management organized monthly “Innovation Days”. The main purpose of such a gathering was to discuss, brainstorm, and produce creative and innovative solutions for both existing and potential issues. This activity was not only a booster for creativity but also crucial for keeping our services high-standard and competitive.

One of the tasks, which we tried to tackle during such a conference, was the engagement of users on the app, which was developed for one of our clients. Our team included designers, developers, and marketers. We had a table topped with colorful sharpies and papers; and we also employed techniques like mind maps and role-playing. One of the most useful ideas, which emerged from such a discussion, was personal push-notifications, which the users could customize themselves. This feature, implemented within the first three months, raised the overall level of users’ engagement by 30%.

Implement Structured Brainstorming Techniques

A principal step toward usable ideas is discipline in structuring the process of brainstorming . Often we used a method called “six thinking hats” invented by Edward de Bono . Different hats symbolized different ways of thinking, they were: emotional, factual, creative, and critical. The proportion of the time, spent at the session, based on each of the thinking types was equal. It helped us to provide not only creative but also “down-to-earth” ideas and generate, for instance, new forms of digital marketing, which should incorporate new augmented reality features.

Encourage Cross-Departmental Solutions

Cross-departmental work was crucial for nurturing creativity because only such a combination could provide us with a full picture of the problem. During one of the meetings, the leading team asked the members of the financial and customer service departments to join the creatives at such a meeting. The new design of the box, which was developed along with the finance team, used 15% less materials. This decision was made based on the customers’ feedback about the packaging. They also compared the price of the old and the new models and there was no noticeable change for the customer. If not for the finance team, this idea would be left untouched.

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