You Need Good Data to Run a Good Meeting

You Need Good Data to Run a Good Meeting 

In a previous article, “The 5 P’s of productive meetings”, I talked about the importance of “Preparation”.

Meeting Preparation.

The meeting agenda is shared with attendees well in advance. It describes the purpose of the meeting, what topics will be discussed, and in what order.

Pre-reading is sent out well in advance, with the expectation that people need to read the material and be prepared to discuss and debate it.

Dashboards are updated prior to the meeting so that ALL data is current and accurate. For example:

This is an area where I see many companies struggle. Much of their data is either out of date, missing, or inaccurate.

Someone decides that “just for this week” he or she won’t update their records in the relevant software for their functional area. They are too busy fighting fires and doing busy work. Then it happens again. Very soon, your overarching company dashboard is not “telling the truth”.

When Metrics (KPI), Projects and Tasks are not kept updated every week with current, accurate data, no one has a clear picture of what people are actually working on, or how well things are going. Before long, people stop looking at the dashboard altogether. Performance suffers.

No dirty data!

I strongly urge clients that, “Your dashboard must tell the truth at the beginning of each week”, especially prior to your weekly team meeting and 1 on 1 meetings.

If you don’t have the latest Metric scores, or if Projects and Tasks have not been updated to reflect the current reality, the manager:

  • can’t see which areas of the business are performing well, and which areas require attention
  • can’t see which people are performing well, and who needs help and support
  • can’t have meaningful discussions about performance
  • can’t make well-informed decisions

Also, if your dashboard software is not kept up to date it greatly loses its power to motivate people. Keeping the data current and making performance visible is a proven factor to enhance management success.

To ensure you are fully prepared to run a great meeting, I recommend you implement a set of “meeting preparation rules”.

Here are some recommendations:

Tasks.

Everyone must update their personal Tasks prior to the meeting. Check off Tasks that have been completed and add new Tasks to demonstrate initiative and prioritize your work for the coming week.

Overdue Tasks need to be explained, and a revised due date negotiated with the team manager

Additional Tasks may be added as appropriate by the manager during the meeting.

Everyone must clearly highlight “The One Thing” – the single most important Task they need to complete in the coming week to move their area of the business forward.

Projects. 

Project Goal owners must update the status of Projects prior to the meeting, and be prepared to justify the level of progress. Draft a Twitter-length status update to explain what is happening, and demonstrate initiative by listing the next steps as Tasks with conservative due dates the team can count on.

Every Project should have at least one near-term Task listed underneath it to show the next step.

Don’t delude yourselves. If there is even a slight chance that a Project is falling behind schedule and unlikely to be completed, as scoped, by the due date, mark the Project status as “off track” in the software to let everyone in the team know that extra attention is required to get things back on track.

Metrics (KPI). 

By (designated time) on a Monday morning, ALL Metric scores in the team dashboard must be current and accurate from the week prior. No exceptions. 

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Appoint a Data Champion.

In my experience, the best way to ensure Metric (KPI) data is kept up to date on your dashboard is to name one person in the company as “Data Champion”. This person takes full accountability for ensuring all Metrics in the system are current and accurate every week.

Many business leaders think that each person should update their own numbers, but in my experience, this hardly ever works. Invariably someone is absent or neglects to update their KPIs. You turn up to the meeting with missing data, and as a result, the manager is drawing conclusions and making decisions based on bad data. 

And as a manager, you do not want the aggravation of having to nag people to update their scores every week. Trust me on this.

I learned a big secret to successful business execution many years ago, namely, “If everyone is accountable, then no one is”.

The secret to getting things done is what is called “single point accountability”. One person is named accountable to make sure a thing gets done. If that thing is not done, we only need to speak to that one person to find out what is happening, and they are accountable to sort it out.

Whether the Data Champion manually updates all the numbers themselves, or they kick everyone’s backside to make sure they update their scores, or (ideally) there are automatic data integrations in place with your various software platforms, the Data Champion is solely accountable to make sure all Metrics in your dashboard are current and accurate prior to the weekly team meeting. You don’t care how they do it, as long as it gets done. “No missing data” becomes part of their weekly job description.

Agree on a specific time, e.g. “10 am on a Monday” by when the Data Champion must ensure that all scores in the team dashboard are current and accurate from the week prior.

That way at 10.01 am anyone can log in and see exactly how the team performed last week. Everyone can see which parts of the business are performing well, and which parts need attention. Everyone can see which individuals are performing well, and who needs help and support.

The Data Champion must be held firmly accountable and given full authority to do whatever it takes to ensure all metric data is current and accurate every week.

You need good data to run a good meeting. Without current accurate data, you cannot be effective as a manager. You are flying blind. You are wasting your time, as well as wasting the time of those attending.

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Until next time…
Stephen

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