Management meetings help leaders coordinate. They keep companies on track.
They also cost the time and focus of the organization's most important people.
If there's one kind of meeting you need to get right, it's your management and leadership meetings.
We’ve put together several agenda templates for how to structure management meetings, with different meeting purposes in mind.
All of the templates are for highly participatory meetings. If you have a meeting where everyone discusses their team progress, you’ll need to keep the meetings to fewer than ten people. For strategy meetings, they might be larger but have breakout sessions or span several hours.
One of the most important questions is how to prepare for a management meeting. If you’re calling the meeting or the most senior person in the room, people may be looking to you to do all the preparation.
However, to be effective, everyone must come prepared.
One practical use of meetings is to consult with others on blockers and obstacles. The meeting agenda below encourages each manager to present any areas where they are stuck. This pragmatic template takes a more hierarchical approach, where the coordinator chooses the critical topics for the company insights and deep dive.
Having teams collaborate, even outside of their area of expertise, allows everyone to move more quickly through obstacles and creates a sense of team spirit in joint problem-solving. The template above also will enable people to highlight the wins and priorities in their teams.
This second template takes a less hierarchical approach to leadership, with the team members guiding what’s most important to them. In this approach, the meeting organizer may come prepared with some of the core company highlights, or those might emerge from the reports as additional management meeting topics.
Rather than focusing on wins and roadblocks, the following agenda of management meeting topics circle around highs and lows for each manager.
The initial check-in approach also gives more room for people to settle into the meeting emotionally. Particularly during times of crisis, and where many people work from home or remotely, leadership check-ins allow people to get more comfortable with one another in a management meeting.
While it’s essential to stick to business to make management meetings effective, more and more companies are making sure to care for people’s emotional well-being. Top managers are already under more stress than others, so the check-in allows for people to get focused on the meeting purpose and be present for the other people in the room.
Make sure you’ve made it easy to report bad news so that it can be addressed before it becomes a problem.
Also, as shown above, it’s critical not to let management meetings get bogged down in status updates. Updates can be done over asynchronous channels, saving meeting time for important decisions, discussions, brainstorming, and strategy.
As the meeting templates above show, tracking weekly progress helps keep everyone moving forward—but moving forward isn’t enough. The big question is whether everyone is moving forward according to the declared goals and milestones. Generally, those types of questions are addressed in monthly management meetings.
The following template is designed to structure management meetings focused on the KPIs, OKRs, or milestones of the company.
You might want to adjust the discussion of wins and challenges to be specific to the KPIs of the team, specifically for monthly and quarterly meetings.
In other words, when considering what to discuss in management meetings, weekly management meetings can have a slightly looser structure in terms of the topics covered.
However, if you call a management meeting to review performance on objectives, make sure to keep each team focused on that topic. It might not be pleasant if some teams are not on track—but if your team communicates effectively about obstacles, you’ll catch problems sooner rather than later.
During COVID, the market changed so rapidly in many industries that it was tempting to excuse lack of performance because of external forces. However, good explanations won’t help your company survive and grow—that’s where strategy meetings come into place. One of the topics to discuss in regular management meetings is how to reach the objectives—in other words, the company tactics. However, you also need to prepare for a management meeting about the overall company strategy periodically.
The executive strategy template includes so much that most companies will do this over several sessions or during an offsite meeting. It’s important to take the time away from other tasks to focus on strategy.
This century, every industry has experienced significant changes. It might seem all you can do to just keep up with the day-to-day changes, but by taking the time for executive strategy meetings, you can plan for anticipated—and unanticipated—shifts and turn them into opportunities.
For executive strategy meetings, you’ll want to follow the tips for brainstorming. It’s key to structure the meeting, so there is time for a retrospective analysis, deep dive into the industry trends, brainstorming, and challenging assumptions. Making room for diverse perspectives is increasingly important in a volatile economic environment.
The templates are only the starting point for how to prepare your management meetings. Try them out to see what works, and adjust using our top tips for setting meeting agendas.
One-on-one meetings may be common, but without some care, they’re not always effective.
To run a great meeting, keep the team aligned, and the agenda short, specific, and action-oriented.