Today’s topic is the value of team meetings. I really didn’t use them until the last five years or so. As I look back, that was a stupid mistake in my business. Yes, I’ve done very well, but what I finally realized was that everyone that worked for me was working pretty much on their own. There was no real coordination. Now that I know better, that was terribly inefficient and I can’t imagine how much money I’ve blown over the years because of this inefficiency.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 157
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Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[04:55] Tom's introduction to Team Meetings [06:55] How to start team meetings [08:05] Benefits of having team meetings [12:54] Problem solving during meetings [15:55] How to do team meetings [17:27] Sponsor message
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Episode 157 Team Meetings are great and even if you’re a solopreneur, this is worth listening to because even if you eventually bring on one or two people to help you either inhouse or remotely, you will want to start these immediately and not make the mistake of waiting ten years like I did.
Episode 156 Andrew Allemann was here. He’s the founder of podcastguests.com and he’s going to talk about the great value of being a guest on other people’s podcasts and I can certainly vouch for that. I’ve made a fortune being on other shows besides screw the commute and I also make money for the show hosts through affiliate commissions which is one reason I get invited back. I even recently did a Facebook live called “How to Be a Terrible Podcast Guest and What to Do About it. I’ll have the link to that in the show notes. So, I can’t wait to hear about what Andrew has to say about it.
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OK. Today’s topic is the value of team meetings. I really didn’t use them until the last five years or so. As I look back that was a stupid mistake in my business. Yes, I’ve done very well, but what I finally realized was that everyone that worked for me was working pretty much on their own. There was no real coordination. Now that I know better that was terribly inefficient and I can’t imagine how much money I’ve blown over the years because of this inefficiency. It’s really lucky that for most of my business life, I’ve been selling really high profit products and services that had plenty of room for mistakes like this. If I was in a low profit business, I may not have done so well.
Anyway, let’s talk about what you can do to start team meetings. I just announced it to everyone. I started with two meetings a week and we’re still doing that today. For me remote meetings made the most sense since I have people in two buildings 8 miles apart from each other and contractors a couple miles away and hundreds of miles away.
It may make sense for you to have in person meetings if everyone works in one location and even if they did it might make sense for you to have the capability of video conferencing one or more other team members that might be on the road working, home sick or taking advantage of a flex day where they work from home if you offer that.
The main thing I want to talk about today is the value of doing this. Yes, it takes time out of the work week, but I believe, as do many others, that the benefits far outweigh the short-term loss of productivity.
OK. From my selfish point of view as the business owner the meetings are a time saver. Prior to this I’d have to have 5 or 6 individual meetings, depending on how many employees I had at the time to every one team meeting. God only knows how many meetings between individual team members were going on when one person needed to know what the other was doing. I imagine there was at least 10-15 meetings going on in my organization to every one team meeting that we now have. How incredibly inefficient that was. And I had already been in business for a long time. So, don’t think just because you’ve been in business for a while that you can’t learn something or something is going on right in front of your nose and you didn’t notice it because you say to yourself, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
So, it should be obvious that the first benefit I’ve just outlined is that everyone is informed of what’s going on in a much more efficient manner. Also, after starting the team meetings I learned that there was frustration in the ranks that someone would tell me something assuming I would pass it on to the appropriate person. I’d get busy or not even realize they wanted me to pass it on and the person that needed to know didn’t get the memo. With the team meetings everyone hears what everyone else is doing all at one time. If the point needs briefly discussed, everyone hears that too. If deeper discussion is needed between certain team members, they can do it together outside the team meeting time.
Another benefit of team meetings is that some may feel isolated and some really great people may not have the personality to pipe up on their own with ideas and accounting of what they’re working on. When they are expected to speak at scheduled meetings, they have their chance to shine.
One side benefit of team meetings is that it allows people that may have boring jobs to get out of the drudgery in my case a couple times a week. For instance, one of my people has to do a brief audio teaser blurb and set it to video three times a week for so far almost 160 episodes of this podcast. Even though we’ve got great and interesting guests, I can only imagine that gets a little tiresome after a while. The team meetings besides being informative are usually fun with lots of laughter mixed in with the business at hand. Here’s how to make sure that happens.
Shortly after starting team meetings I noticed they were a little dry and even though they were solving the inefficiency problem, they weren’t really that much fun and they also didn’t help with another tenet of my business…..I wanted to teach these young people a concept I live by of continuous improvement.
So, after each person spoke at our twice a week meetings, I started having them tell what they did to improve themselves that week. Bingo and talk about a fancy team building exercise. Everyone learned much more about each other and I believe built better bonds with each other and the company. We have very little turnover here. Sometimes the things are funny and sometimes serious, which lends itself to friendly teasing and joking around like when Lakia and her husband bought a blow up boat and I don’t think either one of them can swim that well and Marc was thinking about building a chicken coop to go along with the pallet fort he built for his kids. Marc also builds and rehabs surf boards and he bought an old beat up one that smelled like a chicken coop. Lakia had a picture and was bragging about the pair of Sunglasses she got at the dollar store which prompted me to tell all the young people on the line about the song, “Cheap Sunglasses” which they had never heard of. Everyone went to YouTube to listen to it and it’s a constant tease item for Lakia. We know Larry has been working out a lot on the treadmill and we all commiserated on his wife’s knee issue. We were all around when Travis’s cat passed away after 19 years and so on. All of this was spawned by simply asking people to tell what they’ve done to improve themselves.
And don’t think I just sit back and listen. I’m held to the same standard and they hear about what I’ve been working on as the owner and my improvement stuff like I’m learning air-conditioning and heating techniques because coming from a blue-collar background I just can’t stand paying $1500.00 for something I could fix myself for $400. They hear about my weight loss exploits, my bicycle trips and my dog training.
Now let’s talk about problem solving. The old saying is “Two heads are better than one.” Well six heads are better than one. When myself or one of the others presents a problem, they’re having in a team meeting we have everyone’s experience and creativity in play to help solve the problem. I may know something they don’t know, one of the others may have experience I don’t have. Another person may be really interested in the topic of the problem and volunteer to research it. By having a team involved, you will breeze through fixing many problems that otherwise could have nagged at you for months.
Another thing open meetings help you do is catch mistakes early instead of them causing problems past the point of no return. If someone is working on a project….let’s say they are helping me create a Kindle eBook. And they are telling of their progress and I find out they are doing it all manually. I can pipe up and tell them about how Amazon just came out with a Kindle Creator software that automates the production process. Or I might hear how one of my contractors is helping a mentee with a particular problem and the contractor doesn’t know I sent the mentee in a different direction and that problem is not worth working on anymore. Or anything myself or another team member that sees is wrong. It’s fixed sooner than later saving lots of time and money that would have been wasted.
A spin off of catching mistakes is that it’s a great training opportunity or everyone at once to learn something rather than try to tell them individually ….which never happens. That way if I or one of the other team members learns something new, they can share it on the meeting and now everyone knows.
From a legal standpoint we can make sure everyone is following our policies and procedures for instance what we’re doing about that European GDPR regulation and making sure all our emails are compliant with the old Can Spam act and that our Chatbot broadcasts don’t violate Facebook rules, etc.
From a leadership standpoint the team can see that I’m working just as hard as they are and I’m improving myself just as I’m asking them to. Also, how many times have you heard about bosses where the employee never hears from them unless they screwed up. I want to be there to celebrate their great work and correct their substandard work. All along the way helping them to better themselves both personally and professionally.
How to Do It
So, let’s talk about how to do it. I only have experience of doing it remotely so that’s what I’ll talk about, but I do think if it’s appropriate that face to face meetings are very valuable too.
We used to use Skype. Heck, I’ve used Skype for many, many years for all kinds of meetings and calls both domestic and abroad. I hate to say it, but in my not so humble opinion it has gone down hill with poor sound quality, drop offs altogether and general unreliability. We have now switched to Zoom not only for my team meetings but for this podcast when I do Interviews. The sound quality is far superior and I’ve only experienced one glitch in the past year. The free version limits you to 40 minutes which Marc uses to lead our team meetings. That’s usually enough. If we need to go longer, we just click back into the meeting through a link. I use the pro version on the podcast. They have tons of training and of course YouTube is full of video tutorials.
OK. There you have it. If you’re not doing team meetings right now start them immediately and bottom line is, they are a great reminder that we are not alone. We are a team.
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