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Say Goodbye to “Failure to Communicate”

Say Goodbye to “Failure to Communicate”
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Guest: Sheldon Harris, Coach, CEO Coaching International

Episode in a Tweet: This is how to eliminate “failure to communicate” as a problem at your company.

Quick Background: Sheldon Harris, the former president of Cold Stone Creamery, entrepreneur, and now coach at CEO Coaching International, says meetings don’t have to be a boring waste of time. In fact, he says there’s a specific “cadence” of meetings and a structure that enables leaders at all levels to be highly effective communicators. By following his strategy, you can turn internal communication into a scalable competitive advantage for your company.

Key Insights on Making Meetings Effective Meetings

1. Don’t call a meeting until you are clear on the purpose of it.

Too often a meeting is called but the purpose isn’t clear. Everybody just swirls around in conversation and then leaves unclear of what was achieved because nobody knew what they set out to achieve. So, before you call a meeting, make sure you know the purpose, the desired outcome, and who should be in the meeting.

2. There’s a certain “cadence” of meetings that will allow your company to scale and keep the lines of communication open and clear.

Sheldon recommends a series of four recurring meetings. First, there’s the monthly all hands meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to inform and inspire. It’s all outbound communication where multiple presenters share highlights from their respective functional area.

The second meeting is a town hall. Here, the CEO fields questions in an open, transparent format in front of the entire team. This is typically held once a month and questions may be solicited in advance—and anonymously—so nothing is off limits.

Sheldon Harris: It’s so critical that we as a leadership team develop a culture of discipline and accountability.

The third recurring meeting is the weekly leadership team meeting. This typically includes the CEO and six to nine functional leaders. Done correctly, this meeting is one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the trajectory of your business.

The final is a weekly one-on-one meeting with each of your direct reports. Sheldon said his CEO coaching clients often tell him they already meet with their direct reports on a regular basis. However, these are usually just ad hoc meetings or quick phone calls. Sheldon suggests a structured one-hour meeting that follows the results, progress, issues, and discussion format. It’s a granular conversation that focuses on the direct reports functional area.

3. Leave two minutes at the end of every meeting to grade it.

Few people do this but it’s a game changer. Go around the table and ask every single person around the table to give the meeting a letter grade. If somebody doesn’t give it an A, ask them to state what would have made it an A. Through this process, the team starts to recognize the factors that impact the success of the company’s meetings and then everybody starts taking collective responsibility to make future meetings an A.

4. Companies that are successful at internal communication have instilled a culture of discipline and accountability.

Little things really matter here. To avoid leadership and management issues, it’s our job to model what we expect from others so simple things like starting and ending meetings on time, and not multi-tasking during meetings is important.

The best leaders also follow the three C’s of communication–clear, concise and compelling. Practicing these simple things will become part of your culture and ensure your internal communication will be a business driver, not a business killer.

Entrepreneur Coaching Takeaways

  1. Every meeting must have a purpose. Don’t call a meeting unless you know the exact purpose and you know what will constitute a successful outcome from the meeting.
  2. Develop a cadence by following the four meeting process. The all hands, town hall, leadership and one-on-one meetings are a proven best practice to get the most out of your internal communication plan.
  3. Start and finish your meetings on time. The simple discipline of starting and ending your meetings on time keeps everybody focused and engaged on the task at hand.
  4. Leadership challenges for virtual teams? No problem – Bypass the communication issue by incorporating Slack into your meeting routine for better remote communication.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.

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