Once a year I meet with everyone in the firm for the purpose of getting their answers to three questions. I ask -
(1) What should we start doing?
(2) What should we stop doing?
(3) What should we keep doing?
I schedule a time to sit down with each person and meet privately. I alert everyone that I’m going to arrange a meeting with them and ask them to start thinking about things and keeping some notes.
Sometimes the meetings last 15 minutes, other times they last 90 minutes – it depends on the person.
When we sit down I explain that we can’t necessarily do everything they suggest. I explain that we’ll listen and consider every idea. I also explain that I won’t reveal the source of any particular suggestion and that I won’t take action that reveals that one person had an issue with another.
Some folks come to the meeting with a long list of suggestions. They tend to focus on the starts and the stops, but we get a good number of keeps.
Once I’ve introduced the meeting I get quiet. I listen to the person, take notes and nod. I prompt them for more and I shift us from start to stop and then to keep. I ask questions if necessary and I don’t wrap up the meeting until the person has totally run out of gas.
Some of the suggestions are easy to implement. I love the easy to do items. We’ve had requests that we start stocking Diet Cherry Pepsi in the drink cooler. We did it that day. We’ve had requests that we get private offices (we’re in a bullpen). We didn’t do it as it conflicts with some of our core values and philosophies. The suggestions are all over the place and are frequently things I never would have thought of had I not asked.
We’ve made some changes to our procedures as a result of the meetings that have saved us thousands and thousands of dollars. The meetings pay for themselves many times over.
More importantly, the meetings give everyone a chance to be heard and to participate in the management of the firm. You can’t put a value on the feeling someone gets from knowing their opinion is desired, considered and, frequently, acted upon.
Put start, stop, keep meetings on your list of things to start.