Stop Having Meetings. Start Having Catch-Ups

Kobi Simmat talks about his prefered method of staff meetings, as well as the benefits of having a regular staff catch-up to stay motivated, informed and in-line with the organisation’s vision.

“This meeting could have been an email” is one phrase I’m sure you’ve either heard uttered, or stated yourself. Even the most inexperienced and incapable leaders of organisations know that meetings are important, but how to have an effective meeting is an entirely different question. Today we’re going to be discussing the concept of catch-ups: short, punchy meetings that are designed to have the same effect in a short span of time; at Best Practice, we have one a day.

Now, to tap some of your criticisms on the head, I am in complete agreement that there a number of meetings called that could very much be covered by a short, sweet email to the relevant employees. That’s not quite what we’re talking about today, however. I’m insisting that you and your team conduct regular catch-ups, rather than formal meetings that often fall under the category of needless and repetitive. This type of meeting more than often falls into the category of a leader or manager in the organisation demanding the time and attention of staff to get one specific message across. It’s also a sign that there is sub-par communication taking place in the organisation in question, as if the meeting is relegated to the discussion of one topic, this could have been addressed in any number of ways other than calling everyone in - and those employees stopping work - to hear a simple message communicated that could have been an email. These catch-ups are instead a learning, empowerment and motivational opportunity for everyone in the organisation to get onboard with the same mission and vision.

“Meetings are a listening exercise, catch-ups are a learning exercise.”

The major difference between a formal meeting and a catch-up is that there’s no one running a catch-up; everyone is expected to speak and teach the rest of the group something they’ve learned. If you combine a number of individuals from different areas in your organisation, you’re likely to create a high-level and empowered group of staff members that are knowledgeable not only of their tasks, but how their colleagues’ efforts tie into the overall vision of the business. From experience, this is often what separates ordinary organisations from the extraordinary ones.

A Best Practice Guide to an effective catch-up

Like I’ve mentioned, we convene the promotions - sales and marketing - teams for a daily catch up for a number of reasons. Primarily, this is an opportunity for my staff to inform others of their action list for the day and the coming week, which helps to update their colleagues on how their actions can contribute to a wider goal. This is also our opportunities to share take-aways from the books we’re reading, and put the lessons learnt into the context of our own operations. At any given time, Best Practice staff are reading on average a book every two weeks. I’ve curated a reading list for my staff based on the integrity of the author and how relevant their teachings are to our operations. It’s one thing to read a book, but it’s another thing entirely to read a book and teach other people what you’re learning along the way; the benefits are two-fold, as you’re reinforcing the message and you’re also getting staff to recontextualise the lessons they’re learning. If you think the idea of a collective book group might be a stretch too far in your organisation, consider something like a short youtube video like a TED talk, for example.

Make sure to keep these catch-ups short and sweet; 30 minutes is more than enough, even if you’ve got quite a few people to get through. The purpose of the exercise is for this time to be extremely engaging, so taking the more is less approach is essential if you want to get that essential buy-in from your staff into the concept of a daily catch-up. If you keep these considerations in mind, you’re more likely to have an informed body of staff, and significantly better problem solving - both in terms of its effectiveness and expedited speed in which you tackle problems. It’s also important to consider how these regular catch-ups are an essential part of hitting your organisation’s short and long-term goals that are agreed upon in your management review sessions due to the fact you’ve got data from micro periods of time that will inform how you’re tracking toward your larger macro organisational plans.

These are also opportunities to provide feedback to staff on projects they’re ticking off on a daily basis, which will ensure people are moving in the right direction as they complete a task, rather than finding out they weren’t quite on task upon finishing and submitting it. In terms of encouraging leadership and empowering your staff members, regular catch-ups are one of the most important pieces of assembling the puzzle, as each member of staff is expected to contribute to the catch-up and teach the rest of the group something from their learnings. Overall, these catch-ups provide an invaluable opportunity for the team to innovate at speed, and stay on top of dynamic forces like market changes and customer demands, and they’re one of the most effective ways to encourage collaboration and bonding inside your organisation.

High-level teams are well-versed when it comes to this. No matter how large the organisation we’re talking about, take a behemoth like Amazon or Google, for example, working groups are usually no larger than a dozen people, and from personal experience, they have these catch-ups on a regular basis. Having experienced this first-hand and working in and with organisations that practice these catch-ups and those that don’t, there’s a profound difference in the culture and effectiveness when you compare and contrast the two. I’ll leave it here for now, but I would like to hear any feedback you have on this topic; whether your organisation practices something similar, or if you don’t necessarily believe in the concept overall- let me know via LinkedIn or social media.

Thanks for your time- I’ll see you in the next piece.

Kobi Simmat.

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