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Imagine a business that runs without you, yet benefits from your powerful leadership as the chief executive officer. You craft the vision and energize aligned action. Inevitably, you realize the rewards. Sounds awesome, right?
And then—Bam! The reality of where you are right now knocks the dream out of focus. A terrific team member quits. A customer calls and complains. The phone stops ringing (or never quits). My hope is that, in spite of problems and confusion, you hang on to the dream and act as if a smooth-sailing company is your true reality. If you keep slipping into crisis mode, what you’ve got is what you’ll get: more drama. Can you keep calm and problem-solve? Sure you can. And your team will do most of the solving ... if you don’t blow it by taking your frustrations out on them.
Your weekly executive meeting is one cool tool for pulling yourself out of the ditch and getting back on track. No matter what, every week, meet with the executive team to review the financials and the top projects. This is what successful executives do. Here is how to have a rockin’ productive weekly executive meeting.
You, as the CEO, along with all owners, the controller, office manager, service manager, install manager and field supervisors. One of my clients invites a frontline team member to participate in the meeting for a month, then another rotates in. Nice way to get everyone involved.
If you are a small company, invite yourself, all owners, the bookkeeper and one other person. It’s important to have someone other than you at the meeting. To live the dream, someone else needs to share it and help achieve it. It could be you and one part-time intern.
The same day and time every week, for one hour. From 4:00-5:00p.m. works nicely. Put it on your calendar and invite those who will attend.
To check in on the company “scorecard,” i.e., the financial reports, and to assign and complete projects that will move the financials to budgeted goals for profitability and cash.
Start with the money. Review the current month-to-date and year-to-date numbers for sales, cost of goods sold (labor, materials, subcontractors), gross profit, overhead and profit. Notice dollars and percentages. Become familiar with your company's patterns. Compare actual financial performance to the budget. Look for accounting errors and numbers that raise a red flag. Check your cash flow position. Match up cash and accounts receivable and current liabilities.
Then look at the goals. Make a profit every month. Don’t lose money. Maintain a solid cash position. Hit budget and maintain profitable percentages for the key numbers.
NOTE: You can assemble the key numbers on a one-page “snapshot” report. I’ll share my customizable Financial Quick Check Excel form. Send me a message on Facebook (facebook.com/ellenrohr), and I’ll send you the file.
Next, update the top projects and the master project list. As you and your team come up with ideas, park them on the master project list. This list includes any project that may help you increase sales, manage expenses, handle operations or grow the company. Review your top projects. Top status means these projects will get energized. The others wait on the list until a top project is completed. Team members can champion their project for the next top project. Use good delegation habits. Make sure each project leader knows the what, why, by when, by whom and how much for each project. Require a brief status report from each project leader.
NOTE: I just started using Trello for our master project and top projects list, and I love it. The online access and collaborative features make it easy for team members to stay in the loop. Be careful of getting too wordy, and keep in mind you don’t need to engage every feature. Other options are Evernote, Asansa, Basecamp and Google Keep. Or you can keep it old school: notebooks, flip charts and dry erase boards work.
Finally, update your calendars. Everyone at the executive meeting is in charge of his or her own tasks and calendar. However, as the CEO, make sure people are writing things down and updating appointments. We are too old to remember stuff.
Start and end all meetings on time. If you go over, your team doesn’t come with you. They are punched out and texting surreptitiously under the conference table. Let them go home. What you don’t discuss can wait for another meeting. Focus on being concise, and hold others to succinct communication, too.
Also, this is not your only weekly meeting. As the owner and CEO, you will meet weekly with those who report directly to you. You will also attend meetings, as required and desired, run by your managers and team members. You’ll meet to work on projects to which you are assigned. Invite the appropriate people for each meeting, have an agenda and use the time to communicate with and help each other.
It’s a meeting, not a beating!
Lighten up a little. Goals are just goals. It’s a game and the financials are the indicators that you are winning or losing. You get to play! That’s the important part for you and your team. No one is going to come and take your dog if you don’t hit your goals. Don’t turn the weekly meeting into a weekly beating. Let off steam by running around the block or punching a bag at the gym. Help team members succeed by facilitating their creativity and encouraging them to take bold action. Assure them they won’t get fired for making a decision. This is leadership.
Ellen Rohr provides “in the trenches” insight that business owners can relate to. Comments? Questions? A different view? Reach her at 417-753-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the Bare Bones Biz community at www.ellenrohr.com for free tips, problem-solving webinars, money-making tools and lots of love. You can like her on Facebook www.facebook.com/ellenrohr and she will like you right back!