David K. Williams
David K. Williams, Contributor
A life long entrepreneur, I write about my life and business lessons.
11/20/2013 @ 7:55AM |7,189 views
How Banishing Meetings Creates Great Leaders
34 comments, 34 called-out
The meeting chairs at Fishbowl are empty. Everyone is \”in the arena\” working to create a remarkable Q4
The meeting chairs at Fishbowl are empty. Everyone is “in the arena” working to create a remarkable Q4
When we announced that our company, Fishbowl, eliminated meetings in Q4 we received some interesting feedback that ranged from “you could ruin everything you have worked for all year” to “the best award I ever received at a company was ‘Most Likely Not to Show Up to a Meeting.’ If there wasn’t a clear agenda or actual decisions being made I did not show. I’m a trouble maker that way,” posted by Peter Bookman.
We’re halfway through the fourth quarter and we’ve experienced some interesting results that have definitely surprised us and might surprise you, too. At first we were excited about the prospect of no more meetings. We did not anticipate that it would push us all out of our comfort zones. Our meetings might not have been highly productive, but they were comfortable and part of our routine. The more time we had to ourselves, the more problems our minds could come up with to worry about. What we think about grows; our brains are wired to think negatively as a means of self-preservation (I’ll share more on this topic in a future column).We made it over the first hurdle by endeavoring to focus our attention on what we have been trained to do at our company. We sell and service our inventory management software. And all might have been well except for the fact that everything that could go wrong did in October.
Why Our Company Has Eliminated Meetings David K. Williams David K. Williams Contributor
The Secret To Sales Leadership: Abandoning The Lone Wolf–Discovering The Strength Of Teams David K. Williams David K. Williams Contributor
5 Things Every Employer Wants To Hear David K. Williams David K. Williams Contributor
Eleven Things Science Shows Will Make You Happier Every Day David K. Williams David K. Williams Contributor
October humbled and inspired us to create a better November. We also learned how to adjust quickly to unforeseen problems. We couldn’t have picked a more difficult month to cancel meetings. October kept us on our toes, brought us to our knees a few times, and provided ample reasons to celebrate.
Here’s a sample of our more interesting challenges and learning opportunities:
Our server went down during peak selling hours and our new phone system crashed and burned a few times.
An email that looked like it was from a customer launched a virus that shut down some of our internal systems.
At our annual Halloween party, the fog machines set off the smoke alarms and everyone was required to exit the building, including other tenants.
We barely made our revenue numbers. It wasn’t a chart-topping month, but we didn’t sink either.
These challenges provided us with an opportunity to take stock of how we could improve the company. Our October numbers were significantly higher than the previous year, but so were our costs of doing business. Without a single meeting, we knew exactly where to focus to finish the year strong. In business collaboration, the critical commodity is trust , and our team didn’t need meetings to resolve the items listed above.
Our Most Important Discoveries:
Without meetings there was no management drama-fest.
We discovered that some of our meetings caused us to over-analyze situations and to do everything but ask ourselves the most important question: How can we, as individuals, get up after a few stumbles and do better? We are only defeated when we start making excuses or blaming others. Life will always serve up an ample buffet of excuses that are great fodder for meetings. Instead of holding meetings, we acted quickly:
- We implemented new programs to ensure our systems are better protected in the future. The decision to make the changes only took 30 minutes and the phones, email, and website are now working fine.
- We all agreed to sell more today and not worry about what we didn’t sell in October. November is off to a great start. Our people are happier, more focused, and seem to be enjoying work more.
- We accepted responsibility and apologized for our Halloween mishap that displaced several hundred workers. When it was all said and done, we made a few more friends and invited them to next year’s festivities (which we promised would be fog-free).
- With or without meetings, we discovered that communication and connection is essential for companies to achieve lasting success.
No more meetings means leaders spend their time serving their employees, customers, and prospects.
Mary Michelle Scott, Fishbowl President, and I discovered that we could also use the gift of time to serve more internally and externally. We used the time to serve our employees by cleaning the kitchen areas, helping to plan holiday parties, and connecting with our employees who requested some personal time. We shared lunch breaks with employees who recently joined the company or were visiting from their New York and Australian offices. We found time to play a few games of pool and shuffleboard with the teams. We worked on developing new relationships for the company and even managed to add a few new partners and customers.
Some of our best decisions are not the result of management meetings or strategic planning.
Some of our best moves at our company are not well-thought-out, researched plans but just good old-fashioned luck and intuition. One of our employees recently introduced yoga to free the mind from judgment and worry. We also discovered that providing cereal and clean, filtered water around the clock for all employees leads to happier workers. We set aside a small area of our building for exercise equipment and another area to relax and play pool, shuffleboard, mini-basketball, and golf.
These decisions required no meetings to micromanage or assess, and the costs involved are quite small while the returns are priceless. The ideas didn’t come from our leadership team, but from our employees who simply wanted to help their fellow coworkers.
We can work independently and yet in unison.
Our company is committed to our 7 Non-Negotiables, which we worked together to develop. We govern ourselves based on clear agreements with one another. I will admit that in October there were times when I wondered if everything would be all right. But everyone acted independently and in unison to pull us through the challenges. We are a team that is starting to come into its own.
November is looking good and I am happy to report that everyone seems happy, focused, and able to finish their work at a reasonable hour so they can get home to their friends and families, which is important to us. We respect that everyone at Fishbowl has commitments outside of work. As Thanksgiving approaches, we are especially grateful that our “no more meetings” policy freed up a little more time for our people.
David K. Williams is CEO of Fishbowl. Mary Michelle Scott is Fishbowl President. The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, from Wiley Publishing, is one of Amazon’s Top 10 Recommended books and is available from Amazon.com.
12 Tips For Better Telephone Meetings
12 Tips For Better Telephone Meetings
Some employees don’t like using the phone; while others just aren’t any good at it. But if you’re a business professional, it’s imperative that you know how to speak with impact on the phone.
According to Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc. and author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, it only takes a few simple techniques to turn a potentially bad telephone call into a productive meeting with tangible results and measurable outcomes. Here are 12 tips for optimizing meetings over the phone.