Are you setting the tempo for growth in your company – on purpose?
We typically get involved in coaching a CEO and senior team when the business is in the midst of rapid growth – 20% or more per year. In some instances the pace of growth has been absolutely intentional. But often the pace is a happy surprise that brings with it some challenges –
- Concerns about whether the company’s execution can meet client expectations
- Pressure on team members who may not be equipped for expanding or changing roles
- Cash constraints – jumps in sales require investments in materials and/or the ability to carry higher receivables during the cash conversion cycle
- Strategy that is preempted by rapidly changing conditions
One of your primary tools for managing the pulse of your operation is your structure around communication with your team. Structure becomes more and more important with every increase in the pace. It’s easy to become distracted, or “too busy” so that meetings are pushed off or skipped on behalf of something else.
The huddle is the key to a faster pulse in your company. It’s a 10 minute stand up meeting with the whole team, and it has a simple, recurring agenda:
- What’s up? (Alternatively, good news)
- What’s your top priority for today?
- Where are you stuck?
Starting with good news conditions your team to see what’s right in the company. That builds engagement. Sharing top priorities builds understanding of the work flow, and enhances respect among peers. The stuck items aren’t dealt with in the huddle, but rather are referred out to a separate problem solving conversation. Prompt daily identification of the stuck items and quick resolution of them keeps issues as small as possible and minimizes disruption to the operation.
The Weekly Meeting The weekly meeting is used to address larger operational concerns. Depending on the size of the business, various departments will do their own. The weekly meeting also creates the opportunity to insert regular training topics into the agenda. Growing companies can’t afford to use stale information.
The Monthly Meeting This is usually for the leadership team, and is a combination of cross-functional communication, ongoing training and discussion of strategic issues. Peter Drucker said the role of management is to “Think, change, and operate.” Without structured opportunities to talk strategy, leaders get sucked into operating without thinking or changing. And ultimately, competitors who are choosing to be more intentional and more nimble can come along and eat the company’s lunch while its leadership is head down in the day to day.
The Quarterly Meeting Remember earlier when we talked about the strategy becoming obsolete? Conditions change inside and outside your business. Furthermore, when you developed your plan you made some assumptions which may be proven valid or invalid. If your company is growing rapidly you look at your plan quarterly, to make course corrections if necessary or to capitalize on opportunities. The quarterly meeting enables you to execute your longer term strategy through a series of 13-week races.
The Annual Meeting The foundation of your business will probably stay consistent over several years. Your core purpose and core values are probably not going to change dramatically, but you may want to refine them to reflect your company culture. If your growth is fast and appears to be sustainable, you may rethink your Really Big Goal (BHAG) to make it even bigger. Ultimately, though, the annual meeting gives your leadership team the forum to recenter around the big picture (36 months) and set the agenda for the coming 12 months.
Does this sound like a lot of meetings to you? If so, it might be because you have participated in meetings that drift and that do not result in decisions and action. This is why a growth coach can be helpful during times of rapid growth – to apply structure, guide your team, keep it focused, and enable every member of the leadership team to be a full participant in the process.