#24: Meetings That Move The Firm Forward

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There are a few dreaded phrases in the corporate world, find time on my calendar, hop on a call, etc. that usually boil down to the same thing: time-sucking meetings. Meetings can be a strain on many employees and executives alike, especially when they don’t serve an obvious or applicable purpose. 

Bad meetings not only drain an hour, but they have a direct result on productivity, creativity, focused-work, and overall job satisfaction. How can you prioritize meetings that push your team forward as opposed to pulling them backward?  

Let’s find out.

Start With a Plan, But Don’t Be Afraid to Change It

The business landscape is full of innovation and opportunity. By taking full advantage of those opportunities, you can tailor your products and services to meet the changing needs of your clients. A disinterest in adaptability and change can leave you falling behind.

Take our industry as an example. Recently, we were told by a major RIA custodian that nearly ¾ of assets on their platform were solely invested in mutual funds. Mutual funds were introduced in 1924, and while they can play a vital role in diversifying your portfolio, there are numerous other vehicles like exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual securities that present low-cost alternatives or additions. ETFs have been around for the past 30 years, and this custodian is leaving great options on the table. 

Sticking to the status quo might be the easy path, but, not as Robert Frost would put it, “the road less traveled,” and let’s not forget that road, “made all the difference.” Embracing progress and growth requires at least two things:

  • Intention
  • Implementation

While it might sound easy, change is difficult. The intention to make the plan is probably the most straightforward part. Saying that you want to double your business or serve 50 more executives is simpler than the actions you need to get you there. Building out effective systems is the first step, but what does that have to do with meetings?

Systems and Meetings Are Synonyms

A system is a repeatable process to achieve a certain outcome, and meetings are a fundamental part of that system. The idea of meetings as a type of system derives from Matthew Kelly’s The Culture Solution. Kelly says that a law of organizational life is that systems drive behavior. If your meetings are a system, they can drive the behavior that leads to the implementation of your plan.

But let’s be real, most modern meetings don’t achieve those lofty goals. A study in the Harvard Business Review found that many people actively dislike and disengaged from meetings. Out of 182 senior managers, 65% cited that meetings keep them from their work and 71% said that meetings were unproductive and inefficient. The same article recounted a story from an executive who stabbed herself in the leg with a pencil to stop from screaming during a tortuous staff meeting.

It’s safe to say that the meeting was likely not driving behavior that accomplished the company’s goals. Bad meetings lead to bad outcomes, but the same is true for good meetings. Productive meetings can lead to strong outcomes. You want to ensure your meetings drive the behavior that helps you double your business or serve the 50 more executives you are targeting. 

What Makes a Meeting, Good?

For a good meeting, turn to the three c’s:

  • Collaborative
  • Conditional
  • Coordinated 

Each of these elements enforces positive, productive behavior, which as we know advances your plan. Let’s start by exploring the collaborative piece. For our wealth management teams, as an example, this involves reviewing client service needs, upcoming appointments, or follow-up from recent goal review meetings. Advisors, para-planners, and client care coordinators have different meetings to discuss how to help clients and prospects achieve their goals, allocate tasks, and assign responsibility.

What does a conditional meeting mean? Conditional meetings are there to solve problems, answer specific questions, break logjams, or improve processes. The hallmark of these meetings is that they aren’t recurring. A Credent, we utilize this through our distinctive taskforces. 

An example is our client service task force, who convened to update our service experience. This group included wealth management, a success coach, compliance, and finance. Each member contributed their unique experience and perspective until we accomplished the task. After reaching our goal, the task force disbanded and the meetings stopped.

Coordinated meetings have explicit purposes and ensure that each member gets something out of the experience. You must coordinate your meetings properly so as not to run overtime or get off track. 

The Meetings We Prioritize at Credent Wealth

It’s time to revolutionize the way businesses hold meetings. The main goal should be to drive behavior and accomplish a plan, not crowd your calendar. We are intentional about our meetings here at Credent Wealth to ensure that each has purpose and value. To do that, we employ several types of meetings in our company. Let’s take a closer look. 

  • Collaborative
    • Daily stand-up meetings for the wealth management department as an example.  
  • Accountability
    • We emphasize self-reporting for accountability. Each person has an opportunity to discuss their work, whether with their supervisor or the larger team. Accountability gives everyone a chance to gain recognition for a job well done or gentle peer pressure to improve if they aren’t happy with their results.
  • Communication
    • Everyone needs to know about company initiatives, the state of the firm, and tactical changes to the strategic plan. We want to limit the amount of time spent in one-way communication, so there is real value in everyone hearing the same message at the same time.
  • Board Meeting
    • This is a small group with a narrow agenda, which deals with the budget, quarterly distributions, and a shortlist of other items. 
  • Executive Team Meeting
    • This team is responsible for helping the company execute its strategic plan and achieve its goals. Executives meet weekly to collaborate and to support the rest of the company.
  • Investment Policy Committee
    • IPC meets monthly to set the direction for the investment department. The IPC does not guide individual security selection, so they don’t make buying and selling decisions, but rather think strategically about what investment strategies the firm needs to help guide clients.
  • Voice Meeting
    • Since we operate as one firm in multiple locations, have a unified approach to client experience, and a single investment management team, we need a universal opinion about the economy and the markets. We call this single message the company’s voice. Each week the advisors meet to craft our message and then we practice handling tough conversations or tricky client situations.
  • Black-ops
    • Back-ops is the fun name that the para-planners and operations teams came up with for their weekly collaboration. They work on detailed operational questions and find ways to make life smoother for our clients.

When done right, meetings can enrich your company

Meetings don’t have to be yours or your employees’ least favorite task. When you hold meetings that are focused and intentional, you help drive the behavior you want to see. For us at Credent Wealth, we want all our meetings to take our broad company goals and identify specific actions our employees can take to make progress toward those goals. 

Then, when you get 20, 30, 40, or even 50 people making daily progress, your broad company goals can be met, and that makes meetings fun, not dreadful. No pencil stabbing in our offices!

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