By the way, here's a tip: If you don't already have an existing forum (like a monthly management meeting) where medium- to long-term issues like those in the previous paragraph can be discussed, don't start a morning ops meeting. It'll get bogged down in those strategic issues (because there's nowhere else for them to go), and the ops meeting will lose its usefulness.
Two other tips on setting the agenda for your morning ops meetings:
- Spend a week watching what holds your team up, slows them down, or throws them off balance each day. What communication or operational issues distract confuse them? Make notes, and turn those issues into your rolling agenda.
- Ask your team members - what would they like to discuss at the start of each working day? What information do they need from others or do they need to share with others?
How Do I Ensure My Morning Ops Meeting Is Truly Effective?
Apart from the two issues we've already covered (keep it short and focused on the "here-and-now"), here are the top five rules for a truly effective morning ops meeting:
1. Start (and finish) promptly.
Don't wait around for people to arrive - start at the time you set for the meeting. When latecomers roll in, make it a rule that they don't proffer excuses and you don't recap anything. The deal is, if they're late, they miss out on important information. So long as you meeting is focussed on important stuff, very quickly everyone will get the message that they need to be there, or they miss out. You'll find that peer pressure will work on your behalf - the other members of the team will be 'in the loop', the persistent latecomer won't, and that pressure will tell.
2. State facts, no lectures.
Remember, this is an ops meeting, not a town hall meeting. Picture a quarterback, coach and a few key team members deciding on the next play during a time out: cover the salient facts quickly, ask for input from others only where necessary, move on to the next point and get finished on time. This is not the time for a detailed play-by-play review of the tape.
3. Manage input from others.
To stay focused and to complete your meeting in the allotted time, you will need to actively manage input from others, especially in the early days. Some people will mistakenly believe that the meeting is an opportunity for chit-chat about last night's American Idol, the weather or their colleagues. Others (rarely, but it happens sometimes) will try to use it as an opportunity to complain (about all sorts of stuff).
Fortunately, in an ops meeting, the answer to all of this is simple: "This is not the forum for that." - say it when you need to, and say it often. The ops meeting is not an exercise in mentoring or coaching, and you should make that clear (although, as a good manager, you are mentoring and coaching your people elsewhere, right?).
4. Be consistent and regular
It should be self-evident: Ops meetings don't work if they're irregular or inconsistent.
5. Take a monthly reality check
For the first six months or so, ask yourself and each member of your team whether or not the daily ops meetings have been helpful or not. If so, why? If not, why not? If not, make whatever changes are required, and try again. Over three to four months you'll whittle the agenda to the point where it is most effective. After six months are up, shift the 'reality check' to quarterly.
Les McKeown is a writer, speaker, consultant and President & CEO of Predictable Success(R), an organizational development consulting firm based in Marblehead, MA. He is the author of Retaining Top Employees, The Complete Guide to Mentoring and Coaching, The Complete Guide to Orientation & Re-Orientation. For more on employee retention, visit Les' Retention Secrets website.