The Ed Eppley Experience
The Ed Eppley Experience

Episode · 2 months ago

Maximizing Meeting Performance #3

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

There's no more important thing an executive team does than the meetings they hold. This is the 3rd of three podcasts designed to help your meetings produce even better results. And I can think of no organization other than Necco Foster Care to share their approach. That's because no client with whom I've worked has done more to change or improve their meetings than this executive team. Pam Priddy is their Chief Strategy Officer (and truth teller). You'll enjoy her insights about what they've learned after more than four years of working to perfect their meetings.

You know, at the beginning of it didn't know how long this was gonna last or how serious it was or what you know, there was a lot of uncertainty. But man, forty five every morning we're huddling on the phone talking about how we were going to get through that day and to me that's when I was like, ah Ha, this, this really is good, this is this is what I need to get through. And then our other meetings that we have as a result of that kept us very connected. Welcome to the ED eppley 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 lead to introduce this week's guest and business leader. Hello everyone, this is Ed Epley and welcome to another edition of the Ed Epley experience. Today it's number three in podcasts about maximizing meeting performance and we have a first timer with us today, someone's not been on the podcast before. She is wicked smart. If you looked up the term eclectic in the dictionary you would see her picture, because she is not a slave to anyone kind of thing or interest. She loves so many different things, which is why I find it interesting to spend time with her. She is absolutely tough as nails. I'm just I marvel at her ability to stay focused, get things done and not be dissuaded by whatever else is going on around her. And I've just learned she's a an avid football fan, not just a fan, she's an a football fan.

She's Pam Pretty. She is the Chief Strategy Officer for Nicko Foster Care Down in Cincinnati. We've had Bo on, we've had rob on from that organization. I don't maybe mark, I can't remember who else, but but Bam, welcome to the Depley experience. So glad to have you today. Well, thanks for having me at and thanks for the kind words. And Uh, it is true, the secret is out of the bag, that I like football, football, and you know what it is. It's ball football, weather dot it is. And I'm just I'm wondering if it's college or pro. You will have to make a choice, is there? If you if you had to choose only one, which would it be? Well, that's why they're on different days. As I don't have to make it but if you had to, yeah, I'm probably gonna go with college ball because it's less predictable and so it's always an exciting game. But I like pro as well. So I'm mean my weekends are are dictated amongst football season. I failed to say this at the beginning, but anybody listening, if you want to reach out to Pam later if you're looking for a playlist of music, she has multiple playlists and just depends on our moods. But this Gal knows music like nobody. All right, we probably ought to get talking about things that that really mattered for the world of business, because our job is to help organizations run more sustainable, successful and profitable businesses, and meetings play a huge role in an organization's ability to do that. PAM, so we're talking about maximizing meeting performance. When did you first really come to some understanding of the crucial nature that meetings play for a healthy organization? Well, for me, Ed, it's it's odd, you know, you hear people talk about covid and how, Um, you know, with impact the way...

...you know, we do our work. To me, the one thing that was a benefit out of covid is that I recognized the meeting and structure that we put in place prior to this pandemic. You know, we had no idea that that was coming, but we did. It was almost like it felt like home. You know, every morning I was working at home and isolated and we, you know, at the beginning of it, didn't know how long this was gonna last or how serious it was or what. You know, there was a lot of uncertainty. But man, eight forty five every morning we're huddling on the phone talking about how we were going to get through that day. and to me that's when I was like, ah Ha, this, this really is good, this is this is what I need to get through. And then our other meetings that we have as a result to that kept us very connected. I feel like that's neat. What would it be safe to say that when we first talked about the strategy for meetings that Necho has embraced, that you were skeptical? Um, I am. I think that would be safe because for me, when I'm a communicator, but we you know, you always feel like you're different and Um, you know, well, that won't work here, right, because we're different from everybody else. Um, and so you you tell yourself that. But we we have a fairly large operation with a lot of nuances to it and it seemed like an over arching task to get everybody rowing the same direction. And you know, how were these things that we had done for fifteen years, whether they were productive or not, productive? How are we going to make the move from that? We had the service committee that met every Monday that,...

...you know, did updates. Where are we going to get those updates at ed? You know? So I think that's fair. You know, I don't. What did you do before you came to Neco as a chief strategy officer? And and well, actually you've played you've played a number of roles. But before joining Knucka, what did you do? I worked for the center on drug and alcohol research. How, how good were their meetings? Um, you know, we had regional meetings a couple of times a year in our supervisor would come out at certain points and meet with us, but there was not a cadence to it and Um, you know, sometimes communication would falter because of that. So, yeah, do you think was that? That was not for profit. It was part of the University of Kentucky. So it actually was part of the university. There uh, and that's twenty plus years ago. I've been been here at echo for a long time. So so if you were starting your own company today, how similar would your meeting strategy be to the one that NECO embraces? I think it feels very comfortable and I think it's productive. To me, the challenge is always that communication in between and how you how you cascade those messages or decisions that are being made, and I still think we have wood to chop on that. You never arrive at perfection. You should always be chasing it right and so to me that's the one area that's left that we've got to continue to work on, that communication piece. So why don't you describe to the audience what nechoes recurring meetings look like? What's the framework that you're using for the benefit of the folks listening? Well, so, for the meetings that...

I participate in, one is a team member, so Bo, who's our CEO. Everybody that he supervises, he has a morning huddle with them and then once a week we have a tactical meeting that's kind of down in the weeds. We do a you know, a quick round as part of that and, Um, what we refer to as a lightning round, lightning round hither and uh, we come up with topics for the day, we either hit all of them or vote on them, depending on how many there are, and then we come up with a to do list from that or action items or even items to cascade. Then monthly we have a strategic which is more a deep dive into a particular topic, and that's everybody that's on our C suite, our executive team, and similar cadence, but just, Um, deep diving into that one topic or two topics that we need to and then courtly we have an off site where, Um, you know, we may have a much bigger goal to tackle, or some would bigger would the chop, and so Bo has that for us. And you know the members of our C suite that he supervises. And then I supervised two different teams and I have that same cadence with them. And so I'm just recently picked up the Marketing Department here and it was interesting because they weren't following that meeting structure. So it's it's having to back up and kind of train them and...

...get that buy in and help them learn the importance of this and I've already seen a difference in what way? Well, just the engagement and, uh, the routine and knowing what to expect and knowing, Um, we're going to be meeting on the state and so if I have questions, I can bring them all in there or topics to cover. So I think it helps people know how to behave and know what the rhythm is at work. So explained to the audience. For from your point of view, why the huddles matter, the daily stand up meeting, that that quick hitter in the morning. Well, I think it serves multiple purposes. One, it's good to hear my teen's voices, whether it's one I'm on or the the folks that I get the opportunity to work with. But to it it makes you stop and think what's what's my biggest value add for the day? So you can't go in there Willy Nilly. Of You know, Um, I don't know what my biggest value at the day is. It it requires you to pause and think about that beforehand and, Um, if you're not an organized person, maybe to get some organization about you. Or for me, who loves that communication piece, I kind of know where all the players are. For the day. Um. So I think it serves different purposes to different people, but for me it's that connection and communication. Um, your own teams. Do you do that huddle after the C suite team, does theirs or before? Okay, so you do it after? Yes, yes, so I mean with my team and then ten minutes later met with the other team and then get started on my day. You're bringing up with, I love the way she said, my team, which is the team of peers,...

...and that's your first team and it's great that you're phrasing it that way. And have you ever had to explain that, or have you explained that to the folks that you manage and lead? Of The your your priority for teams? Which team comes first for you? Um, I don't think that we've ever had that discussion, but I do refer to both teams as I need to get with my team to talk about how the sympacts or get some feedback or Um. So I've referenced it. I don't think that I've ever Um, come straight out and discussed that. That might be an interesting topic. Yeah, it usually is. I'm also wondering about I should have asked Rob Goodwin this when I've had him on. But how much, if at all, does NECO talk to people when you're hiring them, when you're going through the hiring, you're in reviewing process, about echo's obsession about running good meetings? Does that come up at all, or is that something that you discover once you become part of Echo? Um? I think that, Um, I would be shocked if people didn't know it from the just our interview process in itself, that we spend a lot of time with people when we interview them. Um, I think Ed maybe you were the one that said to hire slow right to make sure you get the get the right mix. So there's a there's a lot of meeting structure and input from folks when we're hiring to make sure they're a good fit for our company, and so I would be surprised if they didn't go. m. This is a little bit different, but I don't know that that is, uh, brought into the I'll have to ask for all myself. Now. I do know in a new employee orientation ch happens. Um. He's been having that for a long time...

...and that happens like clockwork. Um. Probably to say in our company that there are topics such as that discussed. Do you think that the average executive, being, you know, smart, intelligent, in many cases highly educated, overlooks or underestimates the importance of meetings? Do you think that? I'm not talking at Echo, I'm talking about in general. If we walked down the street and spotted six different business people and talk to them about, you know, what they what they believe about meetings, I'm wondering how many of them would would rate the importance of that as high as you or I would. I don't think. Sometimes people don't know what they don't know. And so if you, I think I've been to a lifelong and bad meetings and until you've been to a good meeting, Um, you don't know the difference. Right. So to me, if you don't know that you're missing that or have that experience or see it working, then how do you know? So you know, I think even back from you know, I'm invited to a lot of different kinds of meetings all the time outside of our organization. Some are productive and some are not and Um, it's Um hard not to be frustrating when they're not right. Um, but I think even our education system, when you think about kids that go to school. There's a lot of time, there's a lot of downtime. That probably the school day education learning is very small in comparison to the going through the motions time and uh, the so you're taught from an early age to just be present, not...

...necessarily productive. Yeah. Yeah, so, I don't want to get on a debate about that or people come after me, but I'm just thinking about how we're acclimated to what that learning process or that collaboration looks like. And, uh, I think it's a lifelong journey, for sure. I think most of us go into meetings with very low expectations about them being productive. Yeah, I think we have low standards and I wish, I wish we would be more uncomfortable with the whole idea that this you know, if when a meeting stopped being productive there there there ought to be a mechanism, there ought to be a way to point that out that look it is this the best use of our time right now and without without disrupting and, you know, just throwing, throwing into chaos. But that's a topic for another day. Uh, I'm curious about how intentional echo is or you are when you're running meetings about reminding people about the purpose of this specific meeting Um. In other words, when you're I suspect it's easiest with an ad hoc where it's dedicated to a topic it makes. It's probably clear and evident, but people come into it expecting some kind of action on this one thing. Does that come up a lot of the purpose of the meeting at Necho or is that something is just inferred? Well so ED. I think back to when we made this change right to this meeting structure and you know, we ask you a lot of questions about how the meetings were supposed to look and there were lots of debates about what was especially the tactical meeting correct. We we um had a hard time formalizing how that was supposed to look or what that meant,...

...and so I think at that time there was a lot of discussion about it. I think for our team we now know because we've got the reps in and to me that's an important part of being able to practice having a good meeting and getting those reps in. So there's probably lots less um discussion now from our group, but other people are in a different spot in their meeting Um maturity. Per Se and I'm sure that we have different groups within our organization who have learned how to do that or debate it. So Um, yeah, I think it. I think it's there. I'm laughing now and smiling because I'm thinking about poor rick or even John when they came onto the executive team and not having and part of the learning process and the repetitions to get to this clarity that the majority of you have about what we're supposed to do, why we're doing this, and I'm wondering what that must have been like for them and I'm just curious if you if you ever saw any curiosity or concerned on their part. Um, no, really, they both drank water from the fire hose pretty well. So, Um, I hadn't even thought about it and they may have just got in there and I saw everybody else what they were doing and this joining forces. But yeah, I know they did a great job acclimating there for sure. I think I was present when Rick was I don't know if his first meeting or one of his first meetings, and something was said and he said, I'm not, I'm not, I'm enjoying this because I've I haven't been getting this and that and...

...what I'm referring to when I say this. That my interpretation and feel free to correct me or add to this if you want, Pam, but I think when he was referring to this, he was talking about the the intellectual discussions that were taking place about a given topic, and it wasn't one sided. It was people all around the table were weighing in and having an opinion, even if it wasn't their functional area that was being affected by it, and I think that I think Rick's appreciative of that. I think so too. I think if if you're not able to have that candor and to be able to debate a topic and get to the best idea, as well as the second half of that, which is, if you disagree, also commit to whatever the group decision is right, I think there's a lot of value in that. And and it's so work rushing and I often laugh. I tell people the reason I have been with Nicho for twenty years is because once you get that Um if you go to a different organization that doesn't have it, you're gonna stand out like a sword thrub. So yeah, yeah, so here I am and I'll have to retire from here I get to a privileged but but anyway, yeah, yeah, I mean for me it's that spirit of debate or, Um, you know, just watching it. Sometimes it's more comfortable when you're watching someone else in the midst of that debate and you're not at the center of it by any means. Um, I'd like to take a sideline approach, but it's also good to rough it up sometimes. Right. Bo Is a classic entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs are well known for their tension deficit disorder. They're chasing the shiny object. Does he have trouble...

...staying on topic and meetings sometimes and sometimes you know there's a curiosity there. Um, that's what drives US forward. So I would take that curiosity any day over him not shaking it up, because it keeps people moving. Um, there's questions that come out or hard truth that sometimes needs to be said. Um. So yes, he can get us off topic, but I think that curiosity is what drives us to to keep on striving to do better or asking tough questions. Now, Um, the other good thing is for many members of our team we've worked together for a long time. So when the time comes that it's too far left or too far, then he also has a respect for us to be able to say back over here, come back over here. So I think it's like I think it's a great balance of both. How how well does the team manage each other other than Bo uh, because I you certainly are not clones. If I look around the executive table, that that that you have the that there there's nobody who's like overlapping circle of the other person. So I'm just curious about I mean, how often do does somebody say and I'm I don't want to name any names, but one in one person I know has a bias for Um, thinking out loud, and when he talks, it makes it it's a long time for him to get to the point. And does does anybody ever say to him get to the point? Um, yeah, I think everybody has their...

...own way of connecting with someone else. For me, I give folks nicknames of when they when maybe they're not doing what, when they're not being as productive, they might be called grumpy kitty or something. You know, they're all enduring and all to Um, not men as a situation of of what's the best word for it? Not Meant to put somebody down or to be disrespectful, but more to gently call bring attention to it, to help them recognize maybe they're being grumpy. I would I would love for anybody that wants to run better meetings to have a chance to watch what your team does, as well as just to see the discipline that has brought to the running of daily huddles throughout the organization. I don't know, something like of people participate in one Um it's it is remarkable the relentless pursuit you guys and Gals have had making that just part of who you are as an organization. I really think it's been critical to some of your success you've enjoyed the last three or four years. Absolutely and you know, looking back on it, UM, there's we're always striving for that next level. We want to get better, and so it's always nice to pause and reflect where you've come from, Um and to be appreciative of that and to recognize that. Um, you know, we we want to be better tomorrow than we were today. Rob, who is also a chief people officer that we've mentioned before, he says that a lot and I completely agree with that thought process. That we're we're our...

...biggest competitor. It's ourselves against ourselves. And and that meeting structure, just watching it evolve and take hold and and embrace Um, to me has given us some structure that I think we needed. There were many growing pains with it, but Um, we we got it and we asked a lot of questions and I tell you what, for it seemed like forever that we were debating that tactical meeting. I mean then we bring in like two or three times help us with this meeting, and then we get it down pad and we would feel comfortable with it and then we question everything again. So it was it was good, but you know, learning something new, uh, it's like riding a bike. You just don't get it on day one. You gotta practice and get those reps in right. Yeah, yeah, you might skin your knee a time or two. Yeah, yeah, Pam, I always like to end by asking our guests if there was one thing, and one thing only that people could do to make improvement in their meetings. What what would your suggestion be? That's a great question. Ed. Um, I think there's more than one. Am I allowed more than one? Well, yeah, I might stop you after two or three, but let's see what. Give me what you got. We'll see what let's well, first and foremost, the reps. you gotta meet. Um. It's so easy to say someone shoves out on vacation, or we've got this going on, or you know, this is a hard week, so we're not going to meet, and then the next week that happens again, and the next week, and then you get out of the habits. So you've got to be ruthless in the show goes on, getting those rep sin and meeting Um.

To me, the other is to be focused during the meeting. Um. Too many distractions can take a meeting down pretty quick. And then I think the third one would be either what's our action items from here? What are we cascading? What happens next? The end of the meeting? The management at the end of the meeting is pretty crucial, isn't it right? recapping what decisions were made, Um, just just coming up with the plan. I love those three. I think that's wonderful summary of what would be most important. I'm curious about in your executive team, when you said be focused, our laptops generally open or are not during your tacticals? They are because we're sharing data and sometimes we'll ask about something that will look up right on the spot or or whatever. I don't I don't think it distracts. Um. Some of us are fidgetters and do two things at once, naturally. Um. So yeah, I don't think it's become a point where it's a distraction. But if you've got folks that are head down in the computers and not looking up, then that to me is a distraction. Yeah, and I'd argue it's also a bit disrespectful. So, Um, listen, it's been wonderful having you on here. We're gonna have to bring you back, so we'll find another opportunity to do that. Her name is Pam Pretty. That's P R I D D Y. She's the chief strategy officer at NCHO and Pam, if people want to reach out to you with any questions, and what's the best way for them to get in touch with you? Um, probably through email. So it's P first name, first initial last...

...name. At NECHO INN E C co Dot Org. And is there a dot? It's just is a p pretty, all one word. It's all one word. Okay, P P R I D D Y, yes, at Necho Dot Org. Okay, thank you so much. It's spend wonderful having you on and I think I'll see you tomorrow in a quardly off site. I know you got me all day. Looking forward to it. Thanks so much. Thank you all right. 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 EP we group DOT COM, slash assessment, 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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