Meetings mostly suck. There, I said it. We all know it’s the truth. I’ve run my share of crappy meetings and I’m well aware of it. It wasn’t my intention. It’s not an easy task to have great meetings – especially if you’re part of a Customer Success team that is growing at a tremendous pace. The main lesson I learned is that you always need to be adjusting your approach to meetings based on the size of your team, the location of your team and the type of communication that’s needed. It’s also important to get constant feedback from your team on how to improve your meetings and that you should empower your team to help you run them. I’ll admit that I didn’t always do that but it’s something I do often now.
During these past few years, our customer success team kept doubling within 6 months I realized that I was starting to see silos emerge within the team. In addition, we now had remote people that were feeling a bit disconnected from the rest of the group. We were also under tremendous pressure and it was difficult at times to understand how our collective efforts were moving the dial and propelling the company forward. This concept seems to be easier with a Sales team. You can see how many demos the team performed, how many calls they made, how many opportunities they generated and of course how many deals were closed. With Customer Success, those clear cut victories are tougher to see in the fog of the customer experience.
In reality, our team was doing some amazing things but we were working so hard and so fast that we rarely took the time to recognize what we had accomplished, the impact it was having on our customers and how we could be sharing our knowledge and information with each other. The answer was something that was very simple yet had an amazing impact on the team. If you can believe it, the answer was another meeting. Yes, another stinkin’ meeting.
When things get complex, look for a simple solution
Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau
Out of all the meetings I’ve run in my career, the one meeting that I felt I did get consistently right was our Friday 20 minute stand-up. It was super simple. We went around the room to each person and they had 1 minute to cover these two items:
- Outline one accomplishment you did this week that you were the most proud of
- Tell everyone the one thing you’re going to focus on for next week
You go around the room (and to those calling in) in rapid fire and you start to soak up some of the amazing knowledge and skills that your colleagues have. You have the odd interjection (usually by me) for clarification and to expand on a certain area. Some people are a bit modest on a major feat they achieved so you sometimes have to tease it out of them. At other times you have a few people have a stunned look on their face with the expression “I had no idea we were doing that cool shit”. More than anything, you could feel the sense of pride that people had as they were able to tell their story and everyone came out of that meeting with their head held high (and onto the catered lunch in typical start-up fashion).
The purpose of the meeting was not to take notes or create action items. It was not to lament about the major challenges we faced or bitch about the typical issues we ran into in a fast growing company. It was about coming together for a small moment of time and remembering why we are doing what we’re doing and that we’re all in this together. As an added bonus, it forced people to think about what they’re going to focus on next week. At times, you get so into the weeds that you’re not planning for what needs to happen next.
As we grew, it became more difficult to do this type of meeting for the whole Customer Success team. I was happy to see that this has been adapted by one of the managers of the sub teams and has influenced others. It’s part of the constant evolution of a Customer Success team. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, change in Customer Success is the norm. The challenge is to keep coming up with innovative ways to inspire and keep everyone moving in the same direction.
I would love to hear some of your ideas on how to bring people together and the types of similar meetings you have run.