25 Oct 17 Do you invest or waste time in your Results Meeting?
The results meeting is the heart of a company. And is your company prepared to hold an efficient results meeting?
The results meeting is a learning milestone for the company: understanding and sharing results, celebrating achievements, in-depth analyses, and course correction. All on the same page and engaged in projects and actions essential to the future of the company! But how can we do this in the best way?
Execution is one of the management mantras for startups, medium, and large-sized companies. Every leader in his right mind wants to increase the execution capability of his business, developing a team engaged in goals and necessary changes. But before addressing the results meeting itself, let’s go over some very important activities that precede it.
Before the Results Meeting
When there is a more structured process, the decisions made in strategic planning are translated into multi-annual goals (3 to 5 years), actions, and projects of high return to the organization, and hence, to the team. But, of course, the formalization of strategic decisions on a strategic map is worthless without:
- building strong alignment;
- communication; and
- genuine team engagement.
Once this step is taken, there is space for defining and deploying more accurate annual goals and planning strategic projects aligned with the company’s strategies.
The plan to overcome annual challenges (better results) clarifies how much the company and each leader must deliver, monthly, in terms of financial and operational results, as well as DNA engagement. A well-defined goal is the first step of the PDCA method for scaling results. The monthly results meeting is the visible ‘forum’ of the ‘C’ (Check) and ‘A’ (Act) steps of the PDCA method. It is a terrific opportunity to increase execution capability of managers and bold, accelerated learning.
Which levels of the company must hold monthly Results Meetings?
Monthly results meetings should take place at the operations (those who carry out the work), tactical (those who manage the processes), and strategic levels. The results of each level should have a cause-effect relation with the upper level. A good sequence for all three levels of results meetings is:
- Operational goals: sales in average price and volume sold, lead conversion rate, payment term, defaults by city, among others;
- Tactical goals: contribution margin (sales (-) variable costs and expenses) by region, among others;
- Strategic goals:EBITDA/ Cash Flow efficiency and team engagement;
The interval between the meetings of all three levels is usually of one to two days to allow debate, learning and updates in the supporting material. If you are starting out or work with a startup, you can divide the meetings into two forums: operational and tactical. Note that the ‘operations’ represent the heart of the company and its essential results should be monitored every day. After all, this is a critical issue for the daily execution, but we will discuss that another time.
Who should attend the meeting
This will depend on which goals are at stake. At first, the managers who own the goals should participate (maximum of 5 goals for each manager), as well as the main stakeholders in improvement actions and planned projects. All results meetings must have an owner. For instance, if we are discussing the efficiency of a cutting machine (operations level), the meeting should include the machine’s coordinator, who owns the goal, key operators, and other coordinators who directly affect the efficiency, such as Planning and Control and Supply.
A way of encouraging the quiet revolution in favor of ‘execution’ and train successors is to invite high-impact young people to results meetings. However, a full room is worth nothing if it does not mean engagement and good decisions; having too many people can delay decision-making, open doors to politics and mean loss of focus.
When should it take place and how long does it last?
Ideally, monthly results meetings should happen at the beginning of the month, after the Controller or Accountant releases official financial results. It is not good that the meeting lasts more than 3-4 hours, given the great decrease in the level of attention and commitment. Remember: a results meeting does not replace the day-to-day interaction among the team to carry out the necessary actions and projects for the goal to be achieved. Previously schedule the results meetings for the whole year.
The main focus
The focus of the meeting is to solve critical problems, those that have greater impact on the company’s cash flow, team engagement or strategic project deadlines. It is essential to compare the actual result to the goal and its components. Each level must have clear and well-developed goals.
For instance, if you are looking at your operations, it is important to understand what was the deviation from the sales goal in the city of Boston, split by: neighborhoods, product categories, types of clients, average ticket, and volume sold. This perspective is necessary since there is a lot of confusion when we cannot see what is happening.
The second step is to understand the execution status of the action plans and priority projects, assessing delays and team engagement with the action’s original scope and purpose. Usually, when the results are not achieved, the action plans are poor or were not implemented.
The third step is to analyze the root-causes of poor results and actions effectiveness: is there any new cause that was not addressed by any of the improvement actions? Are the actions effective? Is the team engaged in its implementation? Are new actions required, in addition to those defined in the action plans to achieve the annual goals?
Preparation for the monthly meeting
For the strategic goals, prepare and share the financial results (planned v. actual) first with the leaders:
- P&L (Income Statement), with EBITDA and its components (revenue, costs, and operating expenses);
- Balance Sheet, focusing on understanding the health of the Financial Cycle, liquidity and profitability indicators;
- Cash Flow, focus on cash efficiency and availability for the next periods;
The controller heads the preparation of financial data and the performance (data) team leads the whole process. If you do not have a dedicated team, at least prepare the Cash flow and P&L (budgeted v. actual) with the resources you have. Focus yourself on deeply deploying and understanding the sales results.
The ‘planned v. actual’ update of people and operational goals, as well as the progress status of the projects and action plans, should be prepared and analyzed by the responsible areas, in an aligned way, with the owner of the results meeting. If you are in the retail field, implement the OTB (Open-to-Buy) and the purchasing budget, and integrate it into the results meeting. The goal owners must do their homework and previously and frankly discuss with the team the relevant issues about the performance of the area and the main processes:
- Facts and data correlated to the result;
- ‘Pains’ that persist in core processes (what they are, what features they have)
- Available budget;
- Causes (Do root-causes raised in annual planning continue active? What are the new causes? Do field visits to witness the causes that impair the result and gather fresh perspectives to solve them.);
- Make the goal and actions visible, concrete. The team needs to visualize where the company wants to go and also imagine the benefits of achieving the goal and actions for themselves and for the company;
- Execution Feasibility. If someone has already achieved a result from the company, competitors, or professionals from other companies, there are higher chances of team engagement;
- A good purpose, well remembered and communicated, creates much more energy throughout the team.
Results Meeting – Opening
The CEO is responsible for the company’s results, he opens the meeting by briefly presenting (20 minutes at most) and the company’s overall results, such as:
- EBITDA (month and quarter/year-to-date);
- Revenue, Costs, and Overall Expenses; and
- Highlights of the month: people actions, sales and marketing actions, investments, competitor actions, new market opportunities, etc.
The sequence can be given in up to 3 slides. Each slide should present an important finding of the analysis. It is time to end meetings that do not generate any real commitment to learning and change!
Results Meeting – Discussion
After this overview, it is time to address the sectorial goals and processes that explain the overall results (developed in a cause-and-effect relationship). Each goal owner should present:
- Result v. goals;
- Who stood out in the month;
- Where deviations occurred;
- What is being done to recover the goal;
- Summary of the progress of action plans and strategic projects; and
- What are the lessons learned (actions with well-defined people in charge and time limits), how the team is learning, how talent training is happening.
Results Meeting – Conclusion
The CEO should finalize the results meeting with a quick summary of the main analyses and decisions (corrective actions). It is worth bringing to the team a final inspirational message for the coming challenges, within the context of the company’s Big Dream, of the goals of the year and the next period, and of the company’s values. With the tips at hand, it is time to get the whole team to engage in the results meetings, work focused on goals, and increasingly understand how planning and execution techniques and practices can transform the company’s execution capability.