The Ed Eppley Experience
The Ed Eppley Experience

Episode · 2 months ago

Maximizing Meeting Performance #2

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Structure is how a business deploys all of its assets. Some of the most valuable assets of any business are the time of its executive team and the collective wisdom and thinking they bring to the business. Meetings are where truly great teams bring out the best in each other's thinking so that the business can advance. Sam and Dan Wiley, both time-proven executives and former guests on this podcast share what they have learned about running truly effective meetings. You'll love their "lessons learned"!

Number one mistake I've always made many meeting. Probably still like today's talk too much. Welcome to the ED epley experience. Twenty minutes that simplifies the complex job of managing and leading people and inspires you to take action on what you probably already know to build and sustain a smart and healthy business. Here's your host Ed Epley to introduce this week's guest and business leader. Welcome everyone to the Ed Epley experience, your opportunity to learn from successful, seasoned prose about different things that will help you run a more successful, sustainable, profitable business. These gentlemen that are joining me today are no stranger to the ED epley experience. You've heard them before, but never together. Maybe they were on once before together. there. I can't remember, but there Dan and Sam Wiley. Is this the first time I've had you guys on at the same time? Yeah, yeah, first time. Yeah. So one of the things that's interesting about you, guys, is you're about as curious as anybody that I know. You're constantly learning challenging yourselves. You have gone on to different things since we were last together. So, Sam, what what's the latest in your life? Where are you? What are you doing today? Well, I'm busy working for myself. I'm an entrepreneur. I run a small little firm that's just myself and a few others called Sky Sale Foods. We do consulting, so we do commercial solutions for the food and supplement industry and then we also do some new, brand new consumer brand development and food and supplements and a lot of cool projects there. But nothing I can talk about yet. Nothing has been announced. You have to kill our audience looking forward to looking forward to the future and now. All right, so, so you kill our audience if we told them now. So we don't want that. There's there's about twenty eight people out there that we want to continue on with their lives. Dan, what's the latest with you in your world? Yes, I'm with a company called Katie Farming Group. That's a European based contract development and Manufacturing Organization in the R C DMO firm and the Pharma Space. Active in the Pharma Space. They are the largest producer of pharmaceutical omega, three products that are sold in two pharmacies around the world. So I am a VP of special projects there, which means they have a very multifaceted role right now I'm focused on trying to help commercialize some cannabinoid extracts and some algae, Omega three extracts that we produce is also working with some of their consumer products. So it's been a lot of fun. So the reason I like having I like having Dan and Salmon podcast is because they're very smart guys, that you can tell, and they are in a space that I know virtually nothing about, and yet they humor me and let me pick their brains and I think they're going to have some information for you today that I think is important because this is the second of two podcasts all about maximizing meeting performance. The whole idea about meetings is one that, as the audience has heard me say before, I've come to way too late in my career to understand the importance and critical nature of it. I have gotten to the place now where I think I know a little bit about what people can do to run affected meetings. But guys, when did when did you become aware of, one the importance of meetings? And then when would you say you got a line of sight as to some kind of strategy for the kinds of meetings you wanted to run? And and what works and doesn't. So I don't care who goes first. So you know, I started my career at a fortune company and meetings were just part of life and you kind of went through them. And I think as I continue to go in career and I start to under stand, like this is where we're doing things, I would say...

...it was not until you introduced us to the advantage by Patrick Lyncioni that I really started to see like, okay, here's this structured model for meetings. Okay, this resonates with me. I get it now. You know, happened twenty years too late, but now I understand why we're having meetings. Sam, how about for you? But you know, it's interesting as a as a leader. It was my exposure to lots of failures or working with a team and just being so frustrated. I can't get I can't get results, I can't get things to happen and in meetings and people don't seem like they're engaged to paying attention. And you know it's you come from a place of how do I solve this? Right, so I need to figure out how to be better at doing this. Activity are clearly Um. I'm not good at or it wasn't good at Um as a as an employee. I remember many years ago when I worked in UM inside sales for a mortgage company. I remember doing a very disciplined, you know, less than ten minutes daily check in to review our sales pipeline and it's probably one of the most effective meetings I've ever been in because it was on time, it was quick. We looked at maybe a hundred or a hundred and fifty items of a pipeline, talked about them all, talked about the roadblocks, made decisions about today and moved on. But I was just one of the team members working for sales manager soon and knew what they were doing. It was only years later, trying to run my own meetings that I realized, wait a second, that was actually a good model for effective meetings. Is especially that that that, you know, keeping to the almost the impatience of the you know, it's like we need to have this conversation, but it needs to be over. You're both educated gentlemen. You both went to universities. I am assuming nowhere in that curriculum was a class on meetings. Is that? Yeah, and I've I've I've begun wondering why would a university that's teaching educating individuals to be successful, it's a business degree, business curriculum of some sort, why there is nothing about meetings as as fundamental. So so what's the assumption that that's being made there about education and effectiveness and meetings? It's the assumption that because you have a degree, because you've understand finance or marketing or strategy or any of those disciplines, that therefore your prepared to run meetings and know what kind of meetings to conduct. I just don't think it's something that, even it's the radar screen of your average professor like that, you have to train your students, uh, for this aspect of their professional careers. Yeah, yeah, professors are focused on being technical experts and I've had the benefit of some really amazing professors and mentors. But meetings are about collaboration and, you know, empathy and trying to work with people that sometimes don't want to work with you. or It's the professors or you know, when they come into their classroom, their God in their classroom and and that's not the way a meeting works. I mean professor talks, you listen, you take notes. But you know, even if you're the boss and a meeting, it doesn't work like that. If you try to make it work like that, if you try to be professor and all your employees or students, you're failing. I don't know that we've done enough to warrant you guys going this far, this fast, to make yourselves vulnerable. But what would you say are some of the biggest mistakes you've personally made in your you know, the way you've conducted meetings, the way you've attempted to meetings or even participated, if...

...that's where it is. I'm just curious about your if you had some doovers, what would they be? How much time do we have? We got about we got about twenty more minutes. Yeah, it's it's UH. You know, I think the biggest thing is is having meetings be too long, maybe not having a strategic focus or a goal for the meeting. Those are those are kind of some of the things. Really coming into a meeting and just not being ready for it, not being prepared to actually think about the conversation. Yeah, those are some things. What about you saying talking too much? I mean it's always number one mistake I've always made any meeting, probably still make today's. I talked too much. Other people need to talk. You gotta ask questions, not tell people. I think there's I think the the other one, and it's probably a huge pet peeve of me, but it's one I've worked really hard to not do and don't do anymore. But many people still make this mistakes. Not Give your full attention, I mean give of your attention to a meeting or, you know what, just leave the room, don't be there, tell people you can't come, you got something else to work on. I'll tell you one that I think I was most guilty of. Having made them all, and and not that I not this is the only thing I did wrong, but I think one of the biggest problems I had when I was the person in charge, whatever title I had at the time, calling a group of people together was having already made up my mind about something and holding a meeting to act like I wanted their input. I'm not suggesting you guys did that, but that that is one. That is one where, in hindsight, if I knew what I know today, back then I would have either just announced the decision or I would have said look. You know I would have, I would have been more vulnerable and more transparent. Said, look, I think I've made up my mind about this topic now I want to run it by you and if you can persuade me otherwise, great, but, but, but not trying to act like I was serious about their inputs when I wasn't. I'm embarrassed. We have to admit it, but I know I've done that. I've done it a time or two or for yeah, yeah, how much, Dan, in your time with large organizations did you see meeting stew and my my definition of meeting stew is when one person is trying to be strategic and and somebody else or the meeting might be about tactics and and, you know, a staff meeting and somebody wants to argue strategy. Do you see that a lot, or or did you see that a lot in the organizations of which you were part that were big ones? I would say when I when I was at a fortune aspace company that they were pretty focused meetings, but that's you know, you're working with a bunch of engineers. They're single minded on their focus. You know, working in a family business, we had a lot of meetings to a lot of who knows what we're gonna talk about. Meetings go too long, Um, and it covers every topic known. Deman, I have to admit I've got to witness a little of that. Yeah, yeah, Um, you know, my current organization like there's I think there's a mix. It's not a giant company, but it's very fast moving and so sometimes you're you do get a little bit of I don't know if it's meeting Stew, but it's uh, you know, maybe a poopare or something more than one course. Yeah, yeah, there's sometimes there's there's a couple of different focuses, but you know, overall I think it's I just see a mix. I think Sam entrepreneurs are are notorious for following the shiny object, being taken off topic pretty easily by something that either angers them or excites them or interests them when it comes up in the meeting and and pivoting. Are you guilty of that? Oh, probably, almost every day. Hey, I mean it's it's it's hard, Um. You know,...

I think, for instance, typically when I have a meeting with people, I like to go first to make sure that I have the presence of mind to model the behavior that I want to see, because if I get too focused on what other people are saying and I start reacting to it further in into the meeting, I I lose my focus. I mean I I want to stop and have a micro meeting right and you know it's totally inappropriate to have this rabbit trail right now and I just can't help myself. Yeah, when we got to do work together and I introduced introduced you to the table group's model for meetings, they really are focused around four kinds of meetings, the daily stand up or huddle, the weekly tactical, the monthly strategic slash ad hoc, if if you need something that warrants just its own meeting by itself because of the scope of it or the size of it, and then a quarterly off site. Are you using, still using those meetings as as your kinds of meetings in your organizations, or are there others that you're using besides those four kinds of meetings? Yeah, I stick pretty close to to that. You know, I think if I had to choose one, I just choose the daily stand up. I think that's the most important of them all. Why? Well, I think you know, if you think about you got a team of five or ten people, Um, if they can accomplish one thing, you know, you talk about what you're going to accomplish that day to drive some peer to peer accountability. And if you can get ten people doing one thing every day for a month, it's a lot of things and you know, you just are in this constant flow of of communicating about what the business needs. The challenge, I think, is kind of the more strategic meetings, you know, having off sites so, or quarterly strategic reviews or things where you have to really step back from that day to day and think and think about the business. Yeah, yeah, yeah, extract, extract yourself from the day to day is really hard for most executives and executive teams. Sam, how about you? Well, and I think it's I think it's really challenging for leaders and for team members to make the jump from a weekly tactical it's monthly strategic. Yeah, it's you get, you know or fifty or or whatever the number is, weekly tacticals and never any monthly strategics, even if you have one that you delegate, you assigned to be the monthly strategic. It's it's it winds up being tactical. It's hard for everybody to downshift and say, okay, yes, but we need to think strategically here. Do you think where you hold the meeting matters? Do you think? In other words, I'm wondering if, if, like when you just suggested that it's hard to pull yourself out of the operational way of thinking to be strategic, I'm wondering if you went to a different meeting room, where other than the one you normally meet in, i. for your weekly tactical as if that would make a difference. It does. Yeah, I mean the I've been on the side of like trying to decide if it's worth it to go to an outside location or trying to justify that, and I always feel that it's worth it. You get better communication. Everybody changes the scenery that change their mind when they change where they are. You know, I think I heard on one of your recent mini blogs the you know, like slightly more than half of the people and organizations are introverted, and you know, I think that you know, if you're always in this daily, weekly tactical flow, you never tap into the talent of an introverted person who's actually going to sit there and think, and you know. So when you do have these sites or strategics, you give space to actually make...

...make a little deeper thinking happen around, around the business and on what our choices are. Sam You have any thoughts about different location? Yeah, I mean almost anybody I've ever interacted with, whether it's I'm giving advice to a business leader or I'm trying to coach a reluctant employee, there's often pushed back about do we really have to go to this off site? Is it really going to make a difference? That's a long way. Isn't this going to cost a bunch of money? You know, I've heard it said hiring is the most important work we do. I don't know that I agree with that. I think leadership is the most important work we do. Leadership is really hard to do without communication. It's two way. If it's just one way, it's the professor and the student. It's got to be too, these meetings where you can lead and develop and listen and ask. It needs that space. So setting aside time that's special different, you know, not the day to day, not the conference room where, you know, I said, always sit in this corner and you always sit over there and you have to get out of that environment. There's there's psychology like about how it unlocks you know, it evokes Cathartic responsive and locks your mind to learning, to thinking about new things. I couldn't underscore it enough that when you need to think strategically, you need to get out of your day to day. Yeah, totally agree. All right, that's that's good stuff for our audience. I know people are going to be thinking differently maybe about leaving the premises for some of their meetings. When you are in your meetings, how often do you remind people the purpose of the meeting, where you would say that we're here today to make decisions about what we're gonna do in the next week to operate the business more effectively? Or in a huddle, the reason we're doing a stand up, that the daily stand up or huddle. The reason we're doing this is to remain aligned so that we we are more likely to be aligned as an executive team and show up that way to the rest of the organization. Do you ever do that? Do you ever feel the need to do that? I'm I feel like there are times where people forget why we're here in the room together or, you know, on the on the virtual meeting together. What's your thoughts about that? Yeah, I um, I think that that's one of my big pet peeves is is when I get, when I get a meeting request that doesn't have a good title or an agenda or a purpose and and it's it's hard to know like well, should I even go to this meeting? Um, what's it about? Um? And so I try to be pretty clear with with the meetings that I lead that like, here's what the goal is, here's what the purpose is. I don't do it perfectly, don't do it all the time, but I try to be pretty pretty rigorous about this is why we're meeting, we're going to talk about this. Hopefully we can get to a decision about this. And and now let's start. You go ahead. Yeah, it's always saying the purpose of this meeting is to do what? What is the outcome that we're looking for? Just, you know, scheduling a meeting that says we're going to discuss this project. What a ways of time? It needs to say this is the purpose of meeting. I think when you go into the standing meetings, you know it's it's easy to identify the purpose of an ad hoc meeting. It's like this is a problem we need to meet to talk about. It's the standing meeting. It often often forgotten. I mean I love, I love to trot out the phrase or or the statement, you know, in a daily check in. Is the most important thing, my number one priority that I'm going to do today to drive the business forward in the next twenty four hours is still in the blank, whatever it is. You...

...fill in the blank right. So, because that we we have to we sometimes have to be overly obvious, because people forget why they're there, to forget why we're we're even talking, I think the more I mean I've run all hands meetings with, you know, thirty or forty people and Um, those really, I mean every time you know would do an all hands meeting, you really have to spend the first couple of minutes just reminding everybody why we do this. Why did I drag you to this room or make you get on a zoom call or a team's calling? Why are you here? What are we what are we talking about? What's the purpose of this communication? You know, what do we want from you? Those kinds of things. They they you know, the larger the audience, the more obvious you have to be. Yeah, I can see that. One of the disciplines that I see lacking in almost every organization, regardless of size, kind type, geographic location, it doesn't matter, is at the end of meetings, especially tacticals and strategic or ad hocs, is the failure to make clear and agree upon whatever decisions the meeting has produced where it's really it's written down in front of everybody, where they can see it and we can agree. Did we just make this decision in this meeting or did we not? In other words, there is no there is no ambiguity when the meeting is over about whether decision it was made. Do you see that, Dana? Have you seen that in the larger organizations of which you've been a part, or or even now? I think it's I don't see it as often as I would like him. To be frank, I don't do it as often as I should. You know, it's hard because a lot of times you've got another meeting that's backed right up to this one and I can't there's no time or we didn't make space to actually you know, hey, there's five minutes left in the meeting. Let's align on what we decided those those those things are sometimes they just disappear into the next team's call and now you're on to the next one after that and nobody wrote anything down from the last four Sam how about you? What have you seen? Yeah, I mean I think. I think making sure we all agree on. What do we just decide, you know, as a result of this discussion? What actions are outcomes are we going to take? It's important, um, it's most important in those, you know, longer weekly tactical meetings, having the running list that you can refer to. Most meetings will generate three or four, five, you know, decision points. It's important to write those down. I think the other thing I've really learned as a result of those discussions is a certain percentage of all the decisions you'll ever make in a business or become obsolete. You write them down, you decide that we need to take an action, you go out and you explore a little bit and then you decide that's not worth doing. Often more, junior employees hold on to something you decided in a meeting three months ago that is totally irrelevant to the business today. There needs to be more of a discipline process for most people. I find this to be one of my top challenges is to go back and say, I know we decided in April that this was important, but not only what we know today. We're deciding not to work on this. This isn't important. I need you to let it go. This doesn't mean we're dishonest or inconsistent, it just means we're being smart to current business. Yeah, I frankly, I never see that and it needs to be done. So I agree with you. When you've been part of any organization, how often have you seen them actually try to change their meetings? Um, go ahead, and I...

...think I mean I think fairly often. I mean I've been been blessed to work with some pretty pretty awesome people. Um, I would say if I think about where in organizations I've worked with, whether directly inside or coaching and advising. Um, if I think about what I know to be the ideal of meeting performance and versus their willingness to reach the ideal, I think it's pretty low. If I think about how willing they are to improve or change at least some aspect with a bit of coaching and leadership and guidance. I'd say pretty common. Okay, how about you, Dan? Yeah, I mean I I have tried to do a lot of change leadership, I guess, be an agent of change, for changing meetings. So Um, I've always felt like it's been kind of this uh Sciphian task, just like I'm just trying to get somebody to do something slightly different. You know, not that I'm going to quit, but like it's I get kind of frustrated and impatient with the unwillingness to just make some simple changes. I love the reference to Sysiphis. I've had a lot of guests on my podcast. Not many times do we get the mythological character. SYSIPHIS was part of the the examples that. I love that because that's exactly what I was thinking of when you started with your conversation. It's that's what it feels like so often. You guys know the route. The routine is always to ask my guest, or in this case, guess, what's the one thing that they would suggest to the audience if they're going to do anything to be more effective in the running of their meetings. What would it be? I would say I would say say no to a meeting you know, there's a decline button on all these meetings. Just ask yourself, like, is this really necessary? Do we need this meeting, or does it have to be an hour? Can It be twenty five minutes? I would just would say say no to meetings more. Give your people and yourself time to work and time to think. Beautiful Samuel, I struggled to think of whether it would be. Is it more important to listen and ask questions in the meeting? That's pretty important, but I think maybe even a higher priority if I really really think about the to me, what's the most important thing that I could ever think of doing with with a meeting? CADENCE is how a cadence, how to schedule. Stick to it, Chisel it and stone, don't ever deviate from it. If you can't make the time, cancel the meeting, because people need to plan their lives. Somebody has got kids to pick up from school, you know, somebody else has a lunch appointment. It's this, you know, a day before the morning of Hey, I know we normally have the Tuesday meeting at eleven, but can we have it at we started eleven because so and so is not here yet. That kind of scheduled chaos. I think accepts huge amounts of energy from organizations. Build a schedule for your meeting cadence, stick to it, Chisel it on stone, don't ever deviate from it. Yeah, I agree with that. That's that's a good number one. Number two. Number One, I love him. There's Sam Wiley, Dan Wiley, friends of mine and executives for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. Gentlemen, if, if people want to reach out to you for for more information or to have, you know, discussions about meetings, what's the best way for them to reach you? You can find me at SKYSALE FOODS DOT com. All one word Skysale, skysale, all one word, SKYSALE FOODS DOT COM. Yeah, I probably linked in. Is the best way.

I've got my my phone number and email up there, but linked an search for Daniel Wiley and it is under Daniel. Okay, good. These guys are worth the effort to talk to folks. So thank you for helping us do the second of the of our three meeting maximizing meeting performance podcast. Guys, it's always a pleasure. I hope to see you as soon. Okay, guys, yeah, thanks for the opportunity. Thank you. Thank you for listening to the ED epley experience. For more information on building a more sustainable, smarter and Healthier Business, visit www the epley group dot com for resources, tips and ED's latest blocks. That's the epley, E P P L E Y group DOT COM. Plus, take a free assessment at the epley group Dot Com. Slash assess meant to find out how you measure up as a highly skilled and accomplished manager and where to focus on improving your skills. H.

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