Tips for More Productive Meetings

“You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”

– Bill Gates

Business meetings for many can be one of the least appealing aspects of day to day business activity. The often unstructured, seemingly never-ending meetings that many experiences on a regular basis is creating more and more beliefs that meetings should be done away with almost entirely, or at least relegated to a new form of communication. However, face-to-face group meetings can still have significant value and prove to be an effective form of communication when done properly. Here are a few tips to achieve more productive meetings.

Having an agenda is key. This is perhaps the most crucial element of conducting a productive meeting. Having an agenda does not mean polling the room once the meeting has begun and creating one on the spot, but rather having a prepared, structured agenda detailing issues that may need to be addressed. The agenda isn’t just for the person conducting the meeting, but rather something written up and given to everyone involved before the meeting has begun. Understanding there is a concrete end point allows employees to be more focused and reach that point without as much disengagement.

It is important to make each person attending the meeting a necessary component of the agenda. Many times, employees are frustrated because they sit through full meetings where they are not needed and could be getting other work done. This also is key for the person conducting the meeting, as in he or she should be aware of every person attending the meeting. Preparation depends not only on the content of the meeting but also the people.

Lastly, an effective follow up on the meeting can have extraordinary value. No matter how well you prepare, not everyone will always be engaged for every meeting. This could mean briefly going over the previous meeting at the current meeting, an email briefly detailing the topics discussed, or just taking notes for yourself. No surprise, it’s all about constant and clear communication. Being proactive in how you conduct business and communicate with those with which you work, allows you as a business leader to have more control over your business and be put in a better position to achieve your goals.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Taking Your Business in A New Direction

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

– John F Kennedy

There are a number of telltale signs that may let you know it’s time to take your business in a new direction. However, deciding to pivot your business in one way or another can seem daunting, so it’s natural for many of us to avoid these signs and operate at a disadvantage and wait too long to enact change. This is why it is essential to be able to not only identify signs of trouble but also have potential plans of action if change is necessary.

What are signs that may necessitate a new direction? Well, there are no clear answers, but there are a few common situations that may cause need for a pivot. For one, competition may be growing too strong. Of course, competition is natural in business, but understanding your competitors’ effect on your potential business cannot be understated. A new direction for some may mean pivoting their efforts contrary to their competitors, making sure their business is unaffected by oppositional efforts. Often times, a crowded market can be a dangerous one for a thriving business, so making sure you have control of your marketplace can be paramount to success.

The need for a new direction doesn’t even necessarily only come about in times of crisis. Sometimes your particular avenue of success can forecast future troubles and pivoting early can help sustain your current success. This is why it is important to constantly examine what is working in your business. It may be that only a certain service or product in your business is responsible for the majority of profit, or that other areas are simply using up too much valuable time and effort. Recognizing the successful and unsuccessful aspects of your business can allow you to pivot and focus on what is actually creating the most amount of profit.

Lastly, it is important to remember that identifying the problem is only the first step of the process. When the time comes, you will need to know what particular kind of direction you want to take your business. For this reason, it is essential to be constantly gathering customer and internal feedback about your business. Understanding what does and doesn’t work in your business is the key to discovering the right kind of innovation that can help take your business in a new direction.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

What Makes a Modern CEO?

“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.”

– Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google

As a CEO and leader of your business, you likely possess a diverse skill set and employ said skills how you see best fit. However, as time goes on, you may notice your approach to business seems less effective as other more ‘modern’ practices. In the ever-growing professional business landscape, what is deemed to be ‘modern’ seems to change from day to day. However, there appears to be common traits and abilities of a successful, modern CEO that may be of use.

The most obvious trend for a CEO is the embracing and understanding of new technology. It is one thing to decide to integrate newer technology into your business, but it’s another thing to fully understand their capabilities. Gaining a solid comprehension of the tool’s technology provides leads to not only an increase of future innovations, but also a greater efficiency across a multitude of areas for your business. Just like most aspects of the business world, technology is always evolving, so having a base understanding of the modern landscape can only better prepare you for the innovations to come.

With a higher turnover rate and relatively faster pace of business, many modern CEO’s possess quick decision-making skills and flexible strategies. As a leader you not only have to deal with a crisis with clientele or other businesses, but also internally. Being able to quickly find solutions, whether it be attacking the issue personally or delegating responsibility to other employees, is essential in retaining control of crucial situations. Along with being able to find smart, quick solutions, is communicating your decisions to those you lead. More and more people are beginning to reject the cold, firm CEO of old and feel they are able to work more productively when having a clear mutual understanding of leadership goals. This does not necessarily mean explaining every little choice, nor does it mean a lack of respect, but rather simply a consistent and honest communication between all the involved parties.

A stronger, modern sense of communication doesn’t just stop at the internal level. Many CEOs have found that an increase of communication with other CEO’s have yield increasingly positive results all around. According to a 2017 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data, Vistage member companies grew 2.2 times faster than average small and medium-sized U.S. businesses. This is why organizations such as Vistage can be such a vital resource. Gaining new knowledge and feedback from a diverse group of people that best understand your struggles and successes as a CEO can only serve to better your business in a variety of ways.

Achieving success as a CEO in today’s world means a consistent pursuit of innovation and profitability. Understanding the variety of skills modern CEO’s possess is just one step of many to succeed in the ever-changing business market. Not being afraid to constantly learn, change, and adapt when necessary, can better ensure future prosperity for you and those you lead.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Addressing Personnel Problems in Your Business

“You’re only as good as the people you hire.”

– Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s

Leaders are often faced with tough decisions, some of the hardest being the letting go of personnel. But as a business leader, you are responsible for cultivating a quality culture within your company. And sometimes there are people internally that become a threat to the collective culture and goals of your business. Not taking action and expecting the problem to go away can cause even more damage, so when it becomes clear that this person is beyond reprieve, the choice must be made to resolve the issue. However, the handling of the termination can be just as, if not more, important than the actual decision itself. Here are a few tips to make sure this process is done with care and effectiveness.

As mentioned earlier, clarity and timeliness are imperative. Once the decision has been made, putting the termination off can only serve to escalate things unnecessarily. No matter how serious the reason of firing (with some exceptions) it is essential to treat the former employee with thoughtful respect. In most cases, it’s better not to coldly push them out of the door, but rather allow them to express themselves (up to a point) if they so desire. How you handle this firing serves as an example not only to the person being terminated, but also all other employees.

While the news of a firing can have a significant effect on your team in the moment, it is important to be mindful of the whole process even outside the initial termination. The threat of losing one’s job can, of course, have a negative effect on work performance, which is why being open about employee performance is often a necessary habit. By the time of termination, no employee, if it is preventable, should be completely blindsided by your dissatisfaction with their performance. Employees should have consistent feedback in both negative and positive performance.

Everyone involved with your business should have a clear understanding what is and isn’t satisfactory performance. It can also be important to remind yourself of this expectation, especially when it comes to filling the role of the person you decide to part ways with. Approaching the firing process with a firm sense of humanity and openness goes an incredibly long way for all parties involved. Being conscious of how this process affects everyone in your business (both directly and indirectly) is the key to creating a better and more successful work environment.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization