No Leader, No Agenda, No Follow-up? Don’t Meet

We are easily consumed by unproductive meetings.  And the worst is when a meeting goes really well, but then there are no follow-up actions because there was no clear leader of the meeting, nor was there anyone taking notes and assigning follow-up tasks.   Ever have a great meeting where everyone provides feedback, only to find that none of it was captured and/or implemented?  In these cases the leader failed in their role and they are less likely to continue getting participation when others who donate their time see no correlatied outcome.  For a meeting to be productive, the meeting’s leader should be ready to listen and ensure the feedback is documented so that it can be acted on later.  Co-worker participation level becomes passive and unproductive if not.

So how do we improve?

  • Set the stage that all meetings need a leader, agenda, and the leader should be prepared to document the outcomes and ensure follow
  • Don’t take meetings unless you believe they will be productive (have a leader, agenda, and follow-up/next steps are the goal)
  • Stop meetings short and reschedule if key elements are missing

One caveat:  Brainstorming sessions are important at the early stages of a project and  may not have a specific agenda.  This is ok – but all the other elements apply.


“Everything worth doing can be measured”

Developing Performance Metrics:

There are ten to twenty key financial metrics that all organizations should measure.  Outside of these should be the key measurements that show the effects our efforts have had, or will have on the key financial metrics.   These are much tougher to define than the basic financial metrics.  Developing them should start with a need, and the need comes from the desire to achieve some sort of improvement/goal.   If you are tirelessly searching for other things to measure, you are approaching it from the wrong angle and should stop.   The approach should always be based on the goals and desired outcomes.   If you know where you want to end up, that is the best place to start in regards to defining what should be measured and tracked in order to ensure success.

The number of metrics we should measure:

The importance of each metric matters much more than the number of metrics we track.  Not everything we can measure is worth tracking.  As the organization grows, what was once worth tracking may no longer be important.   Periodically we should de-clutter our metrics and make sure the organization is focused on what truly matters.

How to measure the impossible:

Sometimes the only way to measure something is by taking an indirect approach.   We may have to measure a couple of things that will get us to the answer we are looking for.   For example, if the organization puts on some sort of events and we want to measure how effective they are, we may need to track multiple criteria such as number of attendees, number of leads, and number of resulting sales.   Each metric tells us something different, and all of them combined tell us the success rate of the events.  When we find it tough to come up with a measurement, we really just have to break it down into the inputs, and in some cases we must resort to tracking these inputs and then combining them to evaluate overall performance.

Don’t know where to start?

If you have not started with metric tracking, start by tracking the key financial metrics.  Anything else you track should be derived a problem that needs correction, or a goal that needs to be achieved.   And in regards to the time periods to track, it is best to measure things on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and another good thing to do is to have a 12 month rolling average for every metric, that is recalculated at the time of inputting each new monthly metric.   This allows us to see trends and to be proactive in making necessary changes that will lead to improvement.


“Mentees should always schedule the meeting, bring status reports, and have an agenda”

Think of a mentor/mentee relationship as something that does not have to exist.  It only exists because the mentee wants to grow and is proactive in reaching out to someone they believe can help them, and because the mentor has an interest in helping someone else grow, without an expectation of self-benefit, or anything else obligating them to do so.  In contrast, a boss has to manage an employee.  It is their duty and a job for which they receive compensation.   The boss sets the plan, checks to make sure employees are executing, reprimands when needed, etc..   The problems with mentoring are usually a result of the mentee expecting to be treated like an employee.   Mentorship is the opportunity fo the mentor to not be a “boss”.  Mentors do not take on the additional responsibility of mentoring for any other reason than their desire to help.  However, the fuel required to keep a mentor going, is knowing that the Mentee truly wants to help themselves, and they can show it by how they value the time spent together.

Having been a mentee for over 10 years, I have learned the etiquette which has led to long-term relationships, and mentors who have and who continue to help me grow:

  • Mentees start the relationship by asking to be mentored, and by letting the potential mentor know what they hope to gain from the relationship
  • Mentees schedule the meetings
  • Mentees set the agenda for each meeting and communicate it in advance
  • Mentees readily report on any updates since the previous meeting, understanding that the Mentors fuel is to see improvement
  • Mentees should always be honest and discuss their real problems/objectives.   Mentors do not need to be impressed – their purpose is to be needed
  • Mentees recognize that the mentor’s time is valuable, and always offer to buy their breakfast/lunch/coffee if that is part of the meeting

Having been a mentor for a number of years as well, there are also guidelines that should be followed in that role:

  • Only engage with a mentee if you are the right person to help.  If you are not the right person, connect them with another leader that is a better fit
  • If the mentee has never had a mentor, do not be shy in telling them how it works.  If they do not want to put in the effort, it is not worth the time for either person
  • Follow-up on specific goals they have communicated.  Do this early and often in the relationship, which will improve the agendas, reports, and progress that is made in each meeting
  • Let the mentee do their part – don’t become their “boss”