16 Ways to Make Your Operations Meetings More Effective

Every Monday morning tens of thousands of companies around the world head into the office for the often dreaded “Monday morning operations meeting.” This meeting can be an equally boring and unproductive gathering of tired minds for many, but for some, it’s an opportunity to get going past the competition. Whether it’s on Monday or another day of the week, having effective operations meetings is key to running a healthy and profitable organization.

However, not all operational meetings are created equal. Poorly organized operations meetings can waste valuable time and lead to frustration among team members. To make your operations meetings more productive and engaging, it’s essential to follow a few key principles. In this article, we’ll discuss 16 ways to make your operations meeting more effective and share some resources within Function Point that can help. 

1. Set Clear Objectives

Before you start an operational meeting, always remember to define the specific goals and outcomes you want to achieve. This will help you stay on track and ensure that everyone is focused on the same objectives. Here’re some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the meeting about?
  • What result do you want to achieve?
  • How important is this meeting? What would happen if you didn’t organize the meeting?
  • Who should attend the meeting?
  • How should you conduct the meeting?

Getting clear answers to these questions can help you determine the importance of holding an operations meeting. If you have a specific agenda that requires urgent attention, it’s advisable to gather all participants in the same room. However, if it’s just casual announcements that hold no significant impact, you can simply communicate the message via email.

2. Create an Agenda

Be specific about what you want to accomplish, and create an operational meeting agenda to share with all participants in advance. This allows them to prepare and contribute their ideas, making the meeting more productive. A well-structured operations meeting agenda helps keep the meeting on track and ensures that you cover all the necessary topics. Your operations meeting agenda sample should include the objectives of the meeting, the items to be discussed, and the estimated time for each item. 

During the meeting, stick to the operational meeting agenda as closely as possible, but be flexible if necessary. If there are items that cannot be covered, schedule them for a future meeting.

3. Have a Calendar Invite

A calendar invite is an essential tool for keeping everyone on the same page, while often utilized by older millennials and young Gen X’rs, more and more business professionals are embracing the use of calendar invites to confirm meeting attendance. 

Setting a recurring operations meeting ensures no one can use the “I didn’t get the calendar invite” excuse, it gives you the ability to attach an agenda and make updates to the meeting without having to email everyone separately.

Here are a couple guidelines for rolling out calendar invites in your organization:  

4. Prepare Cost Reports in Advance

One of the main benefits of using Function Point to manage your projects is its ability to output reports that give incredible insights that you can use to run an operations meeting. The whole point of tracking expenses and time is to have greater insight into the profitability, or lack thereof, of your jobs. For my company, Clum Creative, a corporate video production company, we use the “Gross Profit Analysis” to essentially serve as an operations meeting agenda.

Using these reports is important, but by the time the meeting starts, it’s too late to run the report, it should be printed in advance and handed to each meeting attendee so it can be referenced. 

Here are some tips on how Function Point can be utilized to help with the running of a smooth operations meeting:

Build Team Trust Through Results

Increase your agency profitability while focusing on what matters most: the quality of your creative work

5. Set the Meeting Earlier Than You Want It to Start

If your operational meeting is set to start at 9, chances are, between people stumbling in a few minutes late and trying to quiet all the side conversations, it’s really starting at 9:10. In order to keep the day moving, schedule the meeting for 15 minutes before you actually want it to start. 

In addition to doing this, setting a serious tone and culture around start times will help increase productivity. If your company has been plagued with a culture of tardiness, here’s a resource for working on reversing it.

  • Reversing Your Culture of Tardiness

6. Start on a Positive Note

Creating teams that root for each other and have camaraderie is vital to team longevity, especially in the straining agency world. Starting each meeting with prompted positive sharing time allows each member of the meeting to feel listened to, expressed, and part of the greater picture.

The first agenda item of every operational meeting should be to go around the room and allow each person to share one piece of positive business news from the past week. Including this in the first 15 minutes of your meeting adds a boost of positivity to your week, and keeps people focused on what’s working instead of always focusing on mistakes.

Furthermore, you should celebrate successes during the operational meeting. Recognize individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond, and express your appreciation for their efforts. Celebrating successes can help create a positive and motivating work environment, which can lead to better collaboration and productivity. 

Really want to get into this? Dive into specific words that can increase positivity in your next operations meeting.

7. Have a Defined Meeting Leader

There should be clear leadership of the meeting, with each of these three roles clearly defined for your operations meeting:

  • Team Leader: The team leader is typically the most ‘senior’ person in the room and the one who answers the high-level questions. They have the most experience and authority in being a final opinion on decisions. The team leader introduces the meeting, passes off to the discussion leader, and then observes and takes notes for ways to improve and coach the meeting moving forward. 
  • Discussion Leader: The discussion leader is in charge of the flow of the operations meeting and ensures conversation moves smoothly, on time and that each agenda item is covered.
  • Scribe: The scribe takes notes, tracks action items, and is responsible for assisting with follow-up items post-meeting. 

8. Keep Conversations Purposeful

Keeping the operations meeting brief and to the point. Avoid dragging out the operational meeting by discussing unrelated topics or going off on tangents. It’s okay to have a quick side comment or make a little joke here and there, but do not let side conversations run beyond 20 seconds. The team leader should keep side conversations to a minimum in order to keep the focus on the purpose of the operations meeting.

Conversations in the operations meeting should revolve around these particular talking points:

  • Project deadline
  • Next action items on the project
  • Expense approvals
  • Deliverables
  • Scheduling of internal resources

Conversation topics to avoid are:

  • Opinions on the client (set this aside for a separate 15-minute meeting, if necessary)
  • Opinions on the project creative (set this aside for a separate 15-minute meeting)
  • Large-scale policy & process changes (keep track of this and set a 25-minute meeting to discuss later)

If these topics do come up, respectfully remind the group of the purpose of the meeting and offer to arrange a follow-up discussion to be had later.

In addition, you should set ground rules to make the operational meeting effective, such as keeping phones on silent mode, or setting aside calls or emails that aren’t urgent. This helps removes distractions and keep everyone focused on the discussion. 

9. Encourage Participation

Encouraging participation from all attendees to generate effective operations meetings is crucial. This means creating a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions, feedback, and concerns. 

Active participation helps build stronger relationships with team members, enhance creativity, foster cooperation, boost inclusivity, align objectives, and improve employee engagement. When everyone has the opportunity to contribute, you can gather more perspectives and ideas to consider, leading to better outcomes.

As the leader, you must set the tone and promote an open discussion. Ensure everyone has a chance to speak and actively listen to their ideas. Avoid dominating the conversation or disregarding opinions that differ from your own. Encouraging participation can lead to innovative solutions and better decision-making. This leads to more productive meetings, strengthens teamwork, and promotes a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

10. Use Visual Aids

Utilizing visual aids is an effective method to make your operations meetings more engaging and informative. Charts, graphs, and diagrams can help explain complex topics and simplify the key points. They can also keep the meeting organized and on track. If you plan to use visual aids, make sure they are easy to read and understand. Avoid cluttered slides or charts with overwhelming information. Keep them simple and straightforward.

11. Record Meetings

Not many companies have the habit of recording operational meetings. However, there are several reasons why meetings should be recorded:

  • For teammates who can’t join the meeting: Not everyone will be available to attend a scheduled meeting — they may be located in different time zones or have other commitments that prevent them from attending. Keeping a record of the meeting is important for everyone’s alignment, whether they’re present or not.
  • To boost concentration: If everyone is aware that the meeting is being recorded, they’ll stay focused and engaged throughout the discussion.
  • For future reference: Relying solely on memory to recall important details from a meeting can be risky, especially for critical information. To minimize the risk of missing or forgetting key points, record the meeting for future reference.
  • For improvement: Recording operations meetings give you the data to analyze and evaluate past meetings to identify areas for improvement. Collect feedback from participants on what worked well and what could have been better. Checking for patterns in the feedback will help you make changes to improve future meetings.

12. Set a Separate Operations Meeting for Those Who Can’t Attend

Especially in smaller agencies, there will be times when vital team members can’t attend the operations meeting, this is one kind of meeting where you don’t want to just say “okay, see you next week.” 

If you don’t record your meetings, another option is to set up a condensed version of the operations meeting that includes the team leader, discussion leader, the scribe and the specific individual who couldn’t make it.

13. Set a Culture Around Expenses

One of the main components of an operations meeting is making sure your projects are profitable. Profitability will fall apart unless your team has a strict culture around expenses. The operations meeting is the perfect channel for integrating a meaningful culture around expenses and expense approval.

When discussing each project, ask penetrating questions about each and every expense, showing that you care about the money and time being spent by directing an appropriate level of criticism towards each expense and time allocation. This will also help promote using a critical eye when spending money and time (which is money) on behalf of the company.

14. Do Quick Tasks in the Moment

Another element of the operations meeting is figuring out the next steps of each project. While some tasks are things like “complete the creative brief” or “export a rough draft for the client’s review”, there are a lot of tasks that can be completed within 10-25 seconds, such as sending a follow-up email.

15. End on Time

Ending on time is almost as important as starting on time. Allowing operational meetings to drift off into the abyss encourages unproductivity and a lack of structure. Ending the meeting on time will show staff that their time is respected and will set the tone for future meetings if there are essential items that still need to be discussed, schedule a follow-up operations meeting for later that day or within the next few days.

16. Follow Up

After the meeting, you should send a summary of key points, action items, and deadlines to ensure clarity and accountability. Avoid ending an operational meeting with a vague call to action, instead, define the desired end result and the next steps to achieve it.

Assign each action item to a specific individual, determine what resources they need and set realistic deadlines. Make sure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and deadlines. Delegate a person to oversee the progress and ensure that everything stays on track.

Regularly follow up on the action items to confirm they can be completed within the set timeframe. By providing clear and concise direction, you can help your team work toward success with confidence and focus.

To Wrap Up

You can optimize your operations meetings in various ways, such as setting clear objectives and operational meeting agenda, assigning key roles, promoting participation, keeping it brief and purposeful, using visual aids, following up, and more. Remember to take a look back at previous meetings to evaluate and make improvements for your team.

These 16 tips have helped our organization drive down costs, improve meeting communications, and make the team more effective and productive. Let us know your tips for keeping operations meetings effective.

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