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Five ways to have more productive team meetings

Productive team meetings isn’t an urban legends, no, they actually exist. If you want to have meetings that follow Steve Jobs’ method, here is how to actually implement an effective plan.

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More productive team meetings

You’ve heard all of the advice about meetings – hold stand up meetings in the hall, invite only essential personnel, invite everyone, have snacks, nix snacks, use technology, don’t use technology, but only one thing holds true – with more productivity surrounding your company’s meeting process, there is more doing and less meeting. Period.

While some people reference Steve Jobs or Donald Trump as the inspiration for their meeting style, there is so much more context than simply a single quote from each as to how they run their own meetings. And their process wasn’t born overnight, it was through trial and error, just as yours should be. If you’re a florist in Nashville, having a Boiler Room style environment won’t have the same impact as at a financial firm on Wall Street. And if you’re a fast paced public relations team in D.C., a touchy feely 30 minute team building meeting every morning will hurt your business.

So how do you decide what to do for more productive team meetings? Andy Bailey, serial entrepreneur who is the CEO and Founder of Petra Coach, an entrepreneurial coaching firm offers some pointers.

Bailey affirms that Steve Jobs had a unique meeting management style, wherein only the brightest minds who are directly involved with the project or topic of discussion are invited to attend; anyone else will be asked to leave.

“Do I agree with Steve Jobs’s meeting management philosophy?” Bailey asks. “50 percent of the time, yes.”

Bailey outlines the two primary types of meetings, with Jobs’ philosophy applying to the second:

  • Update or rhythm “huddle.” These are short (typically 15 minutes at the most) meetings, we call them huddles, where everyone meets to discuss four primary check-in topics: 1. What’s up, 2. Stucks or needs, 3. Goal or project fulfillment reports, and 4. Daily top priorities. These to-the-point meetings keep everyone on the same page, establish routine and create accountability. It’s key that everyone from the janitor to the CEO attend a huddle.
  • Strategic challenge-solution meeting. These are more in-depth meetings that require the brightest and most in-tuned team members who can directly affect the mechanics of the business. This is Steve’s type of meeting.

Five ways to have more productive strategic challenge-solution meetings

With that in mind, Bailey offers the following five guidelines in his own words, to ensure your strategic challenge-solution meetings are purposeful and effective, “the way Steve would want them.”

1. Start on time. So often, meeting times end up being more of a suggestion than a rule. I see it all the time. Focused members arrive as scheduled and then wait for everyone else to show up. Subsequently, as if their time wasn’t already wasted enough, those punctual people are then forced to round up the troops. How stupid is that. Further, by continuing this cycle of accepting late arrivals you enable the slackers and perpetuate the faulty system. After all, why would people show up on time if they know someone will come get them and be their personal calendar alert? “It’s ok. Andy will come get me when it’s time to actually start the meeting…”

2. End on time. If you say you will end a meeting at 11 a.m., do everything in your power to end the meeting at 11 a.m. If you abuse the privilege of taking up other’s valuable time too often, you will consequently lose it FOREVER. If you must run over, you must get a consensus from the group that the subject matter you’re discussing is important enough to yield additional time. If it’s not—shut up and end the meeting.

3. Present an agenda. Don’t waste meeting time thinking about why you’re holding the meeting in the first place. Know what the meeting is about before you start it. Have a set agenda that describes the orders of business and follow it. Remember: No agenda. No attenda.

4. Delineate an expected result. Share your desired outcome at your meeting’s commencement—Put it in writing if you have to. “We are here today to XYZ.” By doing this you give those in attendance a true reason to be there and a purpose to work toward.

5. Set them free. Often times, meetings have subtopics that are only relevant to a handful of attendees. Schedule those discussions later on the agenda so those not involved may leave. Makes sense, right? Right.

The takeaway

To emulate the Steve Jobs method, don’t go into it blindly. Follow Andy Bailey’s advice, and be mindful of the details, because the truth is that Jobs was extremely detail oriented, practicing for an upcoming speech over 100 times before hitting that stage – put the work in so that your meetings look effortless, and create more opportunities for your team to be productive.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roland Estrada

    November 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Nice post. I’ll add a correction of sorts base on what I have read of Steve’s meetings. People within Apple and agencies that delt with Apple new that there had better not be anyone in a meeting that didn’t belong there – small groups of smart people. The best book I’ve read on the these insights is “Insanely Simple by Ken Segall”. This is a must read for anyone that wants simplify the way they do business.

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Better.com CEO fires nearly 900 folks over Zoom, right before the holidays

(NEWS) Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy, but now he emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via Zoom.

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Better.com CEO Garg

The ironically named website, Better.com, is a mortgage originator with a 4 Billion dollar valuation. Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy not only for alleged fraudulent activities at two previous business ventures and for allegedly misappropriating tens of millions of dollars, but also for the mistreatment of his employees. His now-infamous email, which was leaked by Forbes where he berated his staff, calling them “Dumb Dolphins” and claimed they were “embarrassing him”. One of his “most loyal lieutenants” had to be placed on administrative leave for, surprise-surprise, bullying.

Once again, Garg is making headlines for the mistreatment of his employees. He emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via a Zoom call. Garg cites “stealing from co-workers and customers by only working two hours per week the as a reason for the mass lay off, claiming that some of his staff only worked two hours per week. What is important to remember, however, is that much of his staff are comprised of underwriters, who are capped at a certain number of files per day, and once they have completed those files, they cannot work again until the next day. This obviously means that “productivity” would look very different for underwriters as opposed to other members of staff.

He also laid off the entire diversity, equity, and inclusion recruiting team, showing what values are actually important to him, and apparently, it is not diversity and inclusion. He claims that Human Resources will be in touch with the recently laid off staff about severance, however, it is unclear what their severance packages will look like. To make matters worse this mass firing occurred just weeks before Christmas. Better.com recently became publicly traded and is prepping to end the year with more than a one BILLION dollar balance sheet.

To treat your employees so callously, and with no regard is totally unacceptable, and the common practice of treating your staff as commodities is becoming increasingly more intolerable. This behavior however is unfortunately not uncommon among CEOs, with an estimated 4%-12% of ALL CEOs exhibiting psychopathic traits, a statistic I was hesitant to believe prior to learning about Garg. And if you feel like you’ve been wrongfully terminated, check out our article to find the best next steps. 

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Business News

Toys R Us is coming back with a vengeance after a rough bankruptcy

(NEWS) Toys R Us is opening their newest store complete with a 2-story slide and ice cream parlor, as well as an exclusive partnership with Macy’s.

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Toys R Us

Millennials rejoice!

Toys R Us is back and better than ever. The toy giant filed for bankruptcy in 2017, which resulted in many nostalgic adults lamenting the loss of their favorite childhood toy store. Not only is Toys R US opening up a new 20,000 square foot location inside New Jersey’s Dream Mall, which will boast a two-story slide and an ice cream parlor, they are also partnering with Macy’s to have products available in 400 stores across the United States, as well as maintaining their presence abroad and online.

This store will be the first Toys R Us owned by WHP Global, who bought a controlling stake this year, but also the only store in the United States. Between big box retailers and one-click ordering with practically instantaneous shipping, many brick-and-mortar retailers just can’t compete. If that wasn’t challenging enough, many businesses face ever-shifting consumer demands, a dragging economy, and a global pandemic, making maintaining brick and mortar stores and businesses, even large ones, incredibly difficult.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses including JC Penney, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have faced the same fate and had to declare bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy is rarely the end for many companies. For companies, bankruptcy can mean many things, from reorganization to liquidation, and in some cases other companies get an opportunity to purchase these businesses, meaning consumers may see their favorite businesses return. Other companies choose to completely eliminate their brick and mortar stores entirely and return solely online.

Many stores and businesses are shifting their offerings, creating limited-edition offerings, and going to great lengths to stay in hopes to compete and stay relevant. For example, PetSmart is targeting pet parents this holiday season by offering matching, customizable pet and human sweaters, and holiday pet portraits. In keeping with the “ugly” holiday sweater craze, Microsoft created and sold out a minesweeper “ugly” sweater. Proactiv, which is a famous skincare brand known for its acne healing effects, is rebranding as Alcheeme and is expanding its product lines to offer solutions to many common skincare issues, including eczema, rosacea. And the Container Store is partnering with vendors such as Circuit, The Home Edit, and Blueland. Their Chief Merchandising Officer, John Gehre, said “Sustainability and the support of small businesses are not only priorities for our company, but our customers, too.”

Businesses are attempting to keep up with the needs and interests of the consumer in many creative and well-researched ways during one of the most difficult times for businesses in history

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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