Management Meetings That Work!
Most construction business owners are very impatient, impulsive, and don’t like to have a set rigid schedule every week. When job problems come up or a customer calls, they want to have flexibility to jump immediately on the issue and take care of it. And because owners like to be in control and micro-manage their people and projects, putting out fires becomes their way of doing business. Therefore, they especially don’t want to schedule regular monthly or weekly meetings with their managers and supervisors. And when they finally decide to put regular meetings on their calendar, owners always find several better urgent reasons to cancel or postpone these meetings until next week or never, whichever comes first!
Meetings make life better!
Well managed contractors are well managed by the business owner and management team. These top contractors have regularly scheduled management meetings that allow them to stay in touch with their estimators, project managers, field supervisors, and foreman. Meetings allow managers to leverage their time and be the leader instead of the ‘make every decision’ supervisor, constant decision-maker, and full time problem-solver. Meetings allow owners to delegate and keep people accountable and responsible to achieve results they want. As the business owner and manager, meetings make life much better as you create a better run company, free yourself to do what you should do, and allow for time to plan, strategize, sell, and focus on making more money.
Make meetings mandatory!
In order to take back control of your company, the owner and management team must set a series of mandatory meetings that meet every week or month. Set them at the same time and never postpone or cancel them. When you cancel meetings, it shows they’re not a top priority, and it’s OK to miss for supposedly more important reasons like bids, inspections, customer demands, field issues, or any other weak excuse that can and will come along. And when the owner can’t make a meeting, still hold them by delegating the meeting leadership to a key manager to handle the agenda.
Start and end every meeting on-time within a set amount of allotted time. This allows attendees to plan their calendar around these regular mandatory meetings. Use a written agenda or template to keep the meeting moving, and assign someone to take notes to document what was agreed to and who is accountable to make things happen. If your company has projects and jobs spread out long distances away from your office, use a conference call service or conferencing software like ‘GoToMeeting.com’ to still hold meetings on the regular schedule.
Effective meetings occur on a regular basis and follow a regular agenda. They are action focused, dynamic, encourage open discussion, and achieve consensus. A good meeting leader boils down the issues to a few top urgent priorities that will make a difference and keep everyone focused on solving problems. Good meeting leaders present every issue as a question to open up discussions and encourage fresh ideas to resolve issues. For example, rather than starting a topic with: “Next item, the financials. Controller Joe, tell us about the revenue and expenses for last month and where things are looking bad.”
A better way to introduce this item would be to present it as an item for discussion as follows: “Everyone has reviewed last month’s financials Joe sent out a few days ago. It’s obvious we have to do something different in order to achieve our overall goals. Let’s get everyone’s input and ideas what we should do differently in the next three months. Let’s start with you Dave.” Now you’ve got everyone involved. You are identifying what everyone thinks about the problem and their suggested solutions. This will lead to some real decisions and action instead of just negative talk and finger pointing.
Management Strategic Planning Retreat
At the end of every football season, the coaches and management team gets together for a few days to look at how well they did, their current situation, and what it will take to improve the next year. Every year your management team must take a day or two to sit down and plot out the strategy for the upcoming year. Engage a facilitator to help your team review your last year results, look at what’s working and what’s not, and identify areas for improvement. Set new targets and goals. And create implementation action plans to improve your company.
In your company, an annual meeting is an important time for company management to decide on the overall direction, strategic issues, changes, adjustments, people, customers, priorities, and approaches to achieve expected results. Hold this meeting at an off-site location so that each attendee will stay focused on the agenda. Start with a review of the company’s past performance. Then look at where the company is today. And then decide where you want to go and what actions will be required to achieve your goals. A realistic discussion of the economy and opportunities available is required to determine what challenges face your company. A comprehensive review of your people and management team should be discussed including decisions about future needs and changes. A thorough discussion of all company goals and targets for the upcoming years should be agreed upon.
Monthly Management Strategy Session
Every month owners and managers must meet to discuss their company's overall strategy and direction of the company. The best place to start is by reviewing you strategic plan goals and action items. The agenda must include reviewing results and strategies for your financials, revenues, overhead and profit, receivables, cash-flow, organizational chart, management, people, operations, systems and procedures, work flow, project management, supervision, safety, quality, scheduling, productivity, equipment, accounting, technology, estimating, and sales and marketing. Part of the discussions should include open debate and review of all options available to solve your company’s future choices.
Monthly BIZ-DEV Strategy Session
Creating a marketing and sales activity calendar will allow you to review your business development progress every month. Identify key markets and customers you want to seek and do business with, develop a plan to find and cultivate new customers, strategize how to better your customer relationships, look at ways to improve your bid-hit ratio, and explore how to increase your margins with better customers and lower competition.
Weekly Sales, Proposal, Estimating & Bid Follow-Up Meeting
Every Monday morning get your sales, marketing, and estimating team together to review your revenue stream, current and cumulative contract awards, sales activity, lead flow, customer relationship meetings, jobs bidding, follow-up required for jobs already bid, and strategies to improve your bid-hit ratio.
Monthly Project Management Meeting
I call this ‘accountability time” as each project manager and supervisor presents their specific job results to the company management team. In these monthly meetings review every project job cost report, schedule update, change order log, project receivable, problems and issues, accomplishments, and progress. This meeting will hold people accountable to follow the company systems, manage their projects properly, do their job as expected, and hit their targets.
The agenda includes review of updated schedule and completion dates; project photos and correspondence; proposed versus executed change orders; executed versus non-executed subcontracts; accounts receivable and payables aging; approved versus not approved shop drawings; project cost reports – budget versus actual; customer issues; safety or quality issues; labor, equipment, subcontractors, or supplier issues; and manpower or management issues.
Company Town Hall Meeting
One of the most important things employees need in order to stay motivated is information about the direction and future of their company. On a regular basis each person needs to know the ‘big picture’ and where their company is going. At least every year, get everyone in your company together for a ‘state of the company’ review session and discussion. By holding regular all company town hall meetings, you can inform everyone what’s happening at your company.
In this meeting, tell everyone the truth about the company’s successes, failures, goals, results, plans for the future, direction, decisions, new policies, targets, finances, backlog, equipment, systems, customers, and issues. Review the past accomplishments and failures. Explain where or what needs to improve. Discuss the future goals and how your company will hope to hit them. And then ask for suggestions, questions, input, and ideas. As part of this meeting, provide some training on new systems or procedures from the office and field operations. Use this opportunity to recognize people who have done a great job and present awards for special accomplishments. Also facilitate roundtable group discussions on ways to improve scheduling, communications, productivity, equipment use, estimating accuracy, customer retention, or other areas your company needs improvement.
Make meetings a mandatory must!
Use these mandatory meetings to get everyone on the same page and achieve your project and company goals. The dynamics of holding regular meetings builds teamwork, creates accountability, holds people responsible, and frees up management from having to visit every job every day and make all the decisions for everyone all the time.