Leading Effective Strategy Review Meetings
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Improving an organization’s overall performance starts with a robust strategy. Vital to building a great strategy is gathering stakeholders together to collaborate, share ideas, and ultimately develop an action plan – making effective meetings a key step in the process.
A recent study showed that business professionals spend roughly 15% of their time in meetings, and 71% of those meetings were considered unproductive. Meetings are necessary for any business to thrive, but to avoid “death by meeting” and keep them productive, engaging, and on track means there is a need for some planning beforehand.
For strategy meetings in particular, it’s critical to set aside the dedicated time to review goals and metrics, assess progress, and make the necessary adjustments to course-correct where the analysis shows there needs to be an improvement in business performance.
An important distinction between a strategy and an operations meeting is shifting away from execution alone, focusing intently on what’s working and what needs to be addressed and prioritizing the next steps. Strategy review meetings enable teams across departments, like sales and marketing, to come together with leadership and help reinforce goals for the organization. The long-term effects of purposeful strategy review meetings also offer accountability and transparency to ensure everyone is aligned on what they need to prioritize to succeed.
“I think we always start at the beginning of the year with a schedule of meetings, deliverables, and calendars,” said April Logan, director of sales enablement and revenue programs at Thomson Reuters. “I think gone are the days where individuals have annual goals. Most of us now have quarterly goals because things change so quickly, so we need to be able to continuously pivot or adjust the operating rhythm to align with the business priorities.”
Below, learn more about the process of running an effective strategy review meeting and download our agenda template to get started.
Define the Roles and Responsibilities of Attendees
Whether planning strategy review meetings monthly, quarterly, annually, or a mix of all of the above, it’s critical to ensure the right processes are in place to help keep the meeting moving and productive for all attendees. Clearly identify the attendees needed for the meeting and ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities and are prepared to participate actively.
For example, the strategy review meeting may need to include executive sponsors that are closely related to key initiatives as well as the leaders of the departments responsible for executing those initiatives that can accurately report data and performance.
For every meeting, clearly delineate who the leader is, who is responsible for taking notes, and who are active participants. The meeting leader is often responsible for developing the agenda, keeping track of time, facilitating discussion, and providing the next steps. The note-taker helps record and then distribute all of the findings and decisions from the meeting to all participants. And finally, the majority of attendees will be active participants. They are responsible for understanding agenda items before the meeting, contributing insights, and presenting ideas throughout to help the team make decisions.
Create an Agenda Focused On Decision-Making
To make the most of the limited time, develop an agenda that focuses on making decisions and cuts down on any unnecessary stagnant discussions. In building the agenda topics, consider the following questions:
- What is the ultimate goal of the meeting?
- What are the top three issues to prioritize?
- What does success look like after this meeting?
A strategy review meeting agenda may look like a review of goals, metrics, and key initiatives planned or in progress to support those goals and metrics. Keeping the agenda short, concise, and to the point can help all attendees home in on achieving the right goals and takeaways from the meeting.
“Always communicate progress, trending metrics, any indication that what you’re trying to drive is having the right impact,” said Yarun Nahar, head of sales enablement at Meta. “Make it regular, make it consistent. And when you’re in that meeting, make sure that anything you’re communicating is driven back to a strategic business initiative and the priorities and metrics you agreed on during the beginning of planning your agenda.”
As a meeting facilitator, it’s essential to encourage dialogue and constructive feedback to help move the agenda forward and produce results. Keeping every attendee task-oriented can help decrease the likelihood that the meeting will go off-topic and veer into more uncharted and potentially unproductive territory.
How to Sustain Momentum Post-Meeting
A successful strategy review meeting includes a follow-through with actionable steps each attendee can take back to their teams to progress against the company’s strategic goals. It can be helpful to identify one of the attendees as the dedicated note-taker who can send out a recap memo or email that captures what was discussed, decided, and open up the line of communication for additional feedback or questions. If there are virtual attendees, sending a meeting recording from the video conferencing host can be helpful.
“I believe that understanding what specifically your team’s going to do that’s going to influence those numbers and understanding what others are doing really helps you align on how you contribute to the organization’s overall goals,” said Jennifer Lopopolo, sales enablement leader.
Next, it’s time to set up a process for tracking action items and due dates. Reach out to responsible parties to do a status check on action items or send reminders a week or two before they’re due. Finally, at the start of the subsequent review meeting, review and recap each action item. At the next strategy review meeting, the first item to cover can be re-assessing performance measures to discern what is working well and what should be adjusted.
To reduce the burden on everyone involved, it can be helpful to agree on a standard procedure that can be repeated and make the review process more streamlined. Ensure that attendees walk away from these meetings understanding the changes being made and what exactly is within their role to make that happen.
Finally, identify lessons learned and how to improve the process by taking in feedback after every meeting. Listen and react quickly as a meeting facilitator and work with the appropriate executives to ensure that the meetings deliver value every time.
“I think people often collect information, go back to their team, and start executing without closing that gap to realign people on what solutions you’re recommending and getting agreement that those are the right things to be focused on and that you heard them well,” said Lopopolo. “It’s really about building those relationships, building some credibility and trust that you’re listening to them, and confidence that we’re all working together towards the same goals.”
Increasing the odds that strategic goals are attainable and successful means that the strategy review meetings must be effective. By preparing ahead of time, clearly outlining a robust agenda, keeping everyone on track, and sustaining the momentum with actionable steps, teams can get alignment more efficiently and start to see better performance throughout the year and beyond.
Download the strategy review meeting agenda template now to get a jumpstart.