Getting more from your business meetings

At Madisons we can provide businesses in the Manchester area with advice on a wide range of business issues. Here are some ideas to help you get more from your business meetings.

One of the key elements of successful profit improvement is simply to get people round a table to devise solutions. Whether it is a firm-wide performance improvement panel with one of our advisers, or just a small team focused on a specific project, the 'round table' approach has undeniable benefits:

  • It enables those who are 'at the coalface' to make a contribution, thus ensuring that any decisions taken will be well informed
  • It ensures that all the key players 'own' the problem and buy into the solution, thus improving both accountability and commitment

Structured discussion

But there is more to a successful round table than just bringing the parties together and inviting them to say their piece:

  1. From the outset the discussion must be structured so that it leads to a workable solution
  2. Participants must feel free to contribute their ideas in a non-judgmental, non-censorious atmosphere

Focusing on solutions not problems

A simple technique that enables you to achieve both these goals is to begin with a brainstorm and introduce a simple rule that all contributions must be prefaced with the words, 'How to....'

Thus, rather than saying, 'The problem is the bottleneck at the welding station', or 'When is someone going to do something about the bottleneck at welding?' the participant would say simply, 'How to remove the bottleneck at welding...'

This immediately creates a positive tone for the discussion and focuses minds on the solution rather than the problem.

Develop an action plan

It is a good idea to have a facilitator who records each contribution, perhaps on a flip chart. Then in the second half of the meeting the participants:

  1. Choose from the contributions those solutions that seem most appropriate
  2. Assign specific actions to individuals to accomplish the chosen solutions
  3. Set timelines and agree a follow up

Experience shows that structuring a discussion in this way not only increases the chances of a positive, practical outcome but also greatly speeds up the meeting.

If you are based in the Manchester area would like support and assistance from experienced accountants and business advisers, contact Madisons. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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Madisons is a trading name of Madison Business Services Limited Registered office: Bushbury House, 435 Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, M20 4AF. Company Number: 03800186, VAT Registration Number: 741 1182 67 Registered to carry on audit work in the UK and Ireland and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Details about our Audit Registration can be viewed at www.auditregister.org.uk and www.cro.ie/auditors for Ireland under reference number C009016107.
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