As we move deeper and deeper into a digital society, the popular opinion on meetings is that they are becoming more and more obsolete. Meetings are generally viewed as wastes of time and bureaucratic with no real value. And a lot of meetings are like this.
The old structures of how meetings are run are a waste of time.
Spending an hour reporting and being talked at de-motivates a team and wastes everyone’s time.
The old school meeting system is broken.
But that doesn’t mean meetings should be thrown by the wayside and removed from all organizations.
Not all meetings have to suck.
When facilitated and ran correctly, meetings have the power to align a team, re-focus everyone, and provide valuable feedback for the organization. Great meetings allow a smart team to discuss issues, collaborate, iterate, and innovate new solutions.
Patrick Lencioni, best selling author of Death by Meeting, says, “Your meetings should be passionate, intense, exhausting, and never boring.”
And when done correctly, one meeting, in particular, has the power to completely transform your business.
The Weekly Action Meeting (W.A.M.)
I have personally seen (in my businesses and in all of my client’s businesses) the transformative impact the Weekly Action Meeting can have on a team.
When I was building my real estate development company with my co-founder, I thought meetings were going to slow us down. We were shooting from the hip and building a startup, we couldn’t afford to waste time on a team meeting.
The truth was, we couldn’t afford not to.
After about 5 months of grinding and hustling, we were struggling. I had a team of 6 and zero structure.
We were weeks away from going bankrupt when I knew I needed to change how we did things.
We needed structure.
I implemented a mandatory weekly all-hands meeting where we discussed issues and worked ON the business for an hour. It was a safe space to speak your mind.
Things changed fast.
After implementing this meeting, we started to solve big problems, ideate new initiatives, and really became a single unit. In a matter of weeks, we turned the company around and started to gain a ton of momentum. We finished at $450,000 that first year and never looked back.
Fast forward two years and the Weekly Action Meeting (W.A.M.) is now the cornerstone of every business I help.
The Weekly Action Meeting, or W.A.M. for short, is a weekly 1-1.5 hour meeting where the entire team gets together in a structured way to discuss numbers, projects, and issues. (If you are over 15 members, you’ll want to have leadership WAMs and departmental WAMs. leadership WAMs are open door though, meaning anyone can come if they want to and listen.)
I have seen issues that lingered for years solved in a single meeting, revenue more than double within 4 weeks, and teams go from missing their goals consistently to shattering goals regularly.
The Weekly Action Meeting is the most important meeting for a few reasons:
Every week the team is in the trenches fighting their own fights. This can feel isolating to some. Leaders struggle to gain visibility into exactly what is going on with their company and their team. How can you help someone when you don’t know what’s going on?
The WAM gives the team a rhythm to synchronize and get on the same page. Just like a football team gathering after each play, drive, quarter, and at halftime, your team needs to regularly get back on the same page so you can be aligned. When people know what each other are working on, it allows for better teamwork and more comradery
Annual performance reviews are dead. Businesses are moving to a rapid feedback, continuous improvement approach to management and leadership. The Weekly Action Meeting allows for a perfect opportunity to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of specific team members. Public recognition has been scientifically proven to improve work performance, engagement, and motivation. During the Weekly Action Meeting, leaders, as well as peers, have a chance to recognize and appreciate each other.
This is where the rubber meets the road for the W.A.M. Most weekly meetings only report, but what makes a Weekly Action Meeting so powerful is the collaboration that occurs. When team members can get out of the day to day and talk with each other about objectives, initiatives, projects, and issues, this allows for solutions that might have never come up otherwise. If someone is having a roadblock and they voice it, a member in another department may have the perfect solution, or just may ask the perfect question to lead to a solution. With a smart team, 1 +1 = 3. The Weekly Action Meeting gives your team the stage to make that magic happen.
Having an all-hands meeting every week allows everyone to get into a rhythm with each other. This rhythm allows the team to keep track of lingering issues or groundbreaking projects. What this leads to is a constant stream of discussion which leads to iteration after iteration.
Old method – John is having an issue and asks for a meeting with a few members. At the meeting, they come up with a solution and disperse. A few months later someone remembers the meeting and asks John how that solution panned out. He replies that it didn’t work and the problem has actually grown a bit worse, but he was just too embarrassed to tell people.
New Method – John brings up the issue during the WAM. The team discusses potential solutions and decides on the best one to implement. Next week, at the WAM, John tells the team that he implemented the solution, but an unexpected result happened and the solution did not work. The team gets back to the drawing board, with this new knowledge, and decides on another solution. The following week John enters the WAM and tells the team the solution worked. Problem solved.
Synchronization + Recognition + Collaboration + Iteration = Innovation. When the team has the space and time to be above the day to day whirlwind and think critically, innovation happens. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon (who has a famous meeting methodology) all rely heavily on team collaboration to drive innovation. Without the weekly meetings, the team rarely gets together to collaborate and innovate.
Common Objections to having a weekly meeting
- “We are too busy”
My most often heard excuse. If you are too busy to pause with your team for an hour a week, you need the meeting more than anyone else. I have never met a team that, when forced to schedule the weekly meeting, could not find time for it. If you really think you are too busy for this meeting, you don’t own your business, your business owns you. Having this meeting will allow you to solve the issues and implement the systems needed to take control back from your company.
2. “We have a small team so there is no point”
If you have a team of two, hold a weekly meeting. In a previous company, my co-founder and I started holding weekly meetings when it was just the two of us. These meetings were a place for us to look at the numbers, reflect, think strategically, and plan the week ahead. I guarantee that if you hold a weekly meeting with your small team, you will start adding to that team much faster than if you skipped this meeting.
3. “We are a remote team”
Use Zoom. Enough Said.
Business after business, startup after startup, I have seen the Weekly Action Meeting transform teams from hectic individuals doing their work in silos to an aligned, organized unit marching towards a common goal.
Teamwork truly makes the dream work, and nothing cultivates teamwork like the Weekly Action Meeting.
(If you want to learn how to effectively run a Weekly All Hands, click here to schedule a call with me)
Want a structured meeting guideline?
Check out this Meeting Rhythm Guide.