Productivity

How to design an effective internal meeting schedule

As your team grows, communication becomes the connective tissue of your organization.  

When you have three employees, everyone knows everything. But when you grow larger, communication structure suddenly becomes incredibly important.  

I learned this the hard way. I struggled to manage the transition from a handful of people to having multiple teams and organizations. Over time, I got advice and found a format and meeting schedule that works well for most small organizations. 

Here’s how you can design an effective internal meeting schedule.

Offsite meetings every six months 

Let’s imagine you run a company with 15 employees. You might think that everyone should understand the strategy intuitively. Fifteen people doesn’t sound huge. After all, it’s not some multi-national conglomerate with offices speckled across the globe.    

Yet, even in small businesses, team members are intentionally focused on shorter-term goals. They’re focused on what they need to get done that day, week, or month. Your job as a business owner is to be the megaphone of the longer term strategy. 

A helpful way to do this is with offsite meetings twice a year. These are usually full-day sessions where you provide an overview of the organization’s strategy, reinforce the mission, and collaborate on how you’re going to get there. They are 80 percent about alignment and 20 percent about inspiring everyone to hit the goals. 

And yes, as the name alludes to, these should be somewhere that’s not your office. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy, but you want to switch your physical context to reinforce the importance of this day. Some local libraries have space that would work. Getting outside your normal workplace ensures people don’t get distracted by their day-to-day work.

Monthly all-hands meetings 

Talking about the business strategy every six months isn’t enough.  

You also want to have a company-wide meeting every month to go over current goals and how you’re tracking towards meeting them. This meeting should be onsite and much shorter.  

There’s a temptation to make these long, but 60–90 minutes seems to be a sweet spot. This gives you time to delve into the meat of any essential topics or ideas and people can still stay engaged. 

This is also an excellent time for people to show off. If there is a new product or initiative launched, have the team that created it present it in this meeting. 

Weekly team meeting 

As soon as your company has teams with multiple people, each team should have a weekly meeting to review active projects. These meetings should be 30–60 minutes and focused on project KPIs and status updates.  

If your company doesn’t yet have multiple teams, you should have a quick weekly gathering each week. This session will provide more real-time updates of what is happening at the company as a whole.  

Weekly 1:1 meetings  

While weekly meetings will keep functional teams working well together, you also need time each week with your direct reports. Yes, this should be every week.  

This time establishes an operating rhythm. Counterintuitively, this discussion reduces needless communication. Since people know they will talk to you at a specific time every week, they’ll hold off on scheduling one-off meetings for small things that could wait for the next the one-on-one.

For 1:1s, many leaders do an hour, but 30 minutes can work if you have a large number of direct reports (think eight or more). The time should be structured by the team members, and they should be in charge of setting the agenda. Your job is to listen, engage, and ask how you can be helpful. Use this opportunity for any coaching that needs to happen.  

Meetings, meetings, meetings 

Now, you may be reading this and thinking, “Jeez, that’s a lot.” And it is!  

Keeping an organization aligned is tricky. As your team grows and you open additional offices, it only gets harder and harder. But, when I’ve had organizational hiccups (and I’ve had plenty), it’s often from a lack of communication. Invest your time in designing and maintaining a clear internal meeting calendar because it will pay off.   

About the author

Allen Gannett

Allen Gannett is the author of The Creative Curve (Penguin Random House), a book about creating the right idea at the right time. It has been translated into eight languages and featured on CNBC, Forbes, and many more. Previously he was the founder and CEO of TrackMaven, a marketing analytics platform whose clients included Microsoft, Marriott, Saks Fifth Avenue, Home Depot, Aetna, Honda, and GE. In 2018 it merged with Skyword to form the leading content marketing platform. He has been on the “30 Under 30” lists for both Inc. and Forbes.

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