Executive staff meetings are an opportunity for a company's leadership team to discuss, plan, and execute organization-wide goals. When implemented effectively, executive meetings are one of the most powerful tools for driving strategic growth within a business.
It is no secret that an executive's time is valuable and often scarce – with more than 72% of their time spent in meetings. Unfortunately, most executives report that meetings are often ineffective and unproductive. That is why careful planning and preparation are essential to hosting effective meetings.
To avoid the costly consequences of ineffective meetings, executives must invest time in creating and optimizing their executive staff meeting agenda.
In this article, we'll be covering the following topics:
Let's dive right in.
Executive team meetings create a forum for company leaders to assess company progress towards goals, collaborate with other leaders, solve issues, and drive business growth. The goal of executive staff meetings is to ensure that each department is adequately supported and aligned with the company's mission and priorities.
This recurring meeting is also an opportunity for leadership teams to build and strengthen their relationships with one another. Constructive feedback and debate are central to productive executive meetings. Leaders can gain insights from each other's individual experiences and craft creative solutions to roadblocks that might be inhibiting growth or progress.
Before crafting an executive meeting agenda, leadership teams must define the purpose and intention of each meeting. Setting an intention or goal for the meeting helps streamline the meeting plan, set expectations, and guide meeting action items.
There are two types of leadership team meetings: operations and strategy meetings. Both meeting types require a different approach to meeting planning and execution. By segmenting the content and tailoring it to fit the meeting's intent, executives ensure that discussions are relevant, concise, and productive.
It is important to note that both operations and strategy meetings are solution-oriented and prioritize decisions or actions that improve the day-to-day operations or strategic direction. Let's review the difference between operations and strategy meetings.
Operations meetings focus heavily on the day-to-day happenings and performance of the organization. An operations meeting is the appropriate venue for leadership teams to review performance metrics (KPIs), share team updates, and request feedback or resources from other departments.
During operations-focused leadership meetings, executives also meet to discuss and identify roadblocks or issues inhibiting growth. Once identified, the leadership team can create an action plan to correct course and delegate necessary assignments to remove roadblocks. Ideally, operations meetings occur weekly to keep company goals on track and quickly resolve any operational or logistical issues.
Unlike operations meetings, strategy meetings focus on high-level discussions or debates that ultimately change an organization's strategic direction or priorities. These meetings focus less on weekly business happenings and more on aligning the company's mission, vision, and purpose. By hosting separate meetings for strategy, executives avoid wasting too much meeting time reviewing or discussing the day-to-day operations.
Strategy meetings allow executives to discuss new business opportunities, gain insights from operational successes or challenges, and map out actionable steps for their strategic priorities. This type of meeting typically occurs on a monthly or quarterly basis as adjusting strategy too often can cause disruptions in operations or confusion among employees.
All executive staff meeting agendas should be tailored to the meeting's purpose, timing, and attendees. Depending on the size of your company and the meeting goals, use the suggestions below to build your leadership meeting framework and create an effective plan for your next executive staff meeting.
If time allows, consider including 1 – 2 check-in questions on the agenda to kick off the meeting. Check-in questions will enable each team member to quickly provide necessary updates and keep everyone in the loop about the moving parts of their department or the organization. Briefly checking in with team members can build rapport and create more personal connections within the group.
During an annual executive team meeting or board meeting, the CEO is often responsible for providing updates or a "state of the union" type address to the meeting attendees. In this case, the CEO summarizes important business news, decisions, or changes. This update does not require any action or input from meeting attendees.
During weekly meetings, executives often share company or department wins with the team. These updates call out progress towards goals and encourage executives (and their team members) that their day-to-day efforts are paying off. This time is also an opportunity to recognize an employee or department exceeding expectations or targets.
To kick off the main section of the meeting agenda, start by identifying the top objectives or issues that you and the team plan to address during the meeting. Clearly stating the meeting objectives helps centralize the focus of the meeting and draw attention to the most pressing issues of the week or month.
Depending on the organization's size, the amount of data to cover during a weekly leadership team meeting can be overwhelming. Narrow the focus of the meeting to 3 – 5 relevant metrics that align with the goals or purpose of the meeting.
Remember, not all metrics show meaningful change from week to week. Consider rotating which metrics you review during weekly meetings to avoid wasting time reviewing redundant information that is not aligned with meeting goals.
After evaluating key performance metrics, work together to identify the roadblocks or challenges preventing the organization from meeting projected targets. Use the allotted time in this section to discuss and debate possible solutions to the issue(s) at hand. Most importantly, work to produce consensus-driven decisions that help improve underperforming areas of the business.
Hosting an executive staff meeting without follow-through or accountability is a waste of valuable time. Allot ample time in the schedule for outlining and assigning action items. Make sure action items are written down and assigned to the appropriate party. Use online tools like Hugo to capture meeting notes, decisions, and action items in real-time to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Use the last 5 – 10 minutes of the meeting to wrap up the discussion, highlight any decisions, and review the next steps. Discuss the strategies and communication required to implement the proposed action plan. Assign someone to publish the meeting notes and circulate the highlights to all necessary parties within the organization.
In addition to the framework above, consider using free meeting templates in Hugo to help your executive team to stay organized, prepared, and aligned during every executive meeting.
Hugo's library of templates can help you design an agenda for any leadership meeting – whether it's a small weekly leadership meeting, a monthly strategy session, or an annual board meeting. The list below includes notes about the different applications and timing for each meeting agenda template.
Executive Weekly Team Meeting – this is an essential weekly meeting agenda for executives. This template is designed to help executives review metrics, gain insights, host roundtable discussions, and resolve critical business issues.
Level 10 Meetings – introduced by the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), the Level 10 meeting is a 90-min framework designed to help leadership teams host more productive meetings. This template is commonly used for weekly leadership team meetings.
Senior Leadership Team Meeting – designed by Drift CEO David Cancel, this meeting template prioritizes discussion and debate over updates. It includes time for positive highlights/wins while saving the focus for discussing opportunities or areas of concern.
Monthly Management Meeting – a variation of the executive weekly team meeting template with a higher-level focus. It includes space for executives to review KPIs, share department wins or priorities, and dive deep into a problem-solving session.
Executive Strategy Session – unlike operations-focused templates, this template focuses exclusively on strategy. Monthly strategy sessions are essential to a well-run leadership team. This template provides space to examine company strategy, re-align priorities, and create an action plan for how to move forward.
All Hands Meeting – hosted by the executive team, an all-hands meeting brings everyone in the company together. This template includes space for executives to discuss the company vision, review key metrics, provide customer/employee updates, answer employee questions, and distribute appreciation awards.
Formal Board Meeting – this is a more formal agenda template used by privately held companies or non-profit organizations with board members. This board meeting agenda template follows a traditional structure designed to help teams easily take meeting attendance, highlight executive reports, and record any motions or votes.
Start-up Board Meeting – the start-up board meeting agenda is a modern adaptation of the formal board meeting agenda. This template is designed for start-up companies who want to dig deep into company issues and drive decision-making with key stakeholders.
Set the expectation that everyone is responsible for completing pre-meeting homework before attending the meeting. This pre-meeting homework can include tasks like reading the agenda, preparing metrics, or writing a short department update. Consider using online tools like Hugo to share meeting agendas and past meeting notes with attendees ahead of time.
Have each team member write up a short memo about their department's successes, challenges, and upcoming priorities. When all meeting attendees prepare and read team memos before the meeting, it saves valuable time on updates and gives everyone the information they need to participate in informed discussion and problem-solving.
Before sending out too many meeting invites, consider the intent and purpose of the meeting. Too many voices and opinions can reduce the effectiveness and productivity of the meeting. Similarly, when confidential information is being shared, keep the group small.
Constructive debate is critical to the success of executive team meetings. Encourage a culture of productive and respectful feedback that places value on each person's individual experience and insights. This type of discussion enables company leaders to gain new perspectives and look at key objectives or issues from a different angle.
Be mindful of getting bogged down in updates or prolonged discussions during executive staff meetings. Utilize a well-prepared agenda to structure the meeting discussions around predetermined goals and objectives. Focus on closing each conversation with an action item or task that benefits the larger strategic direction of the company.
Assign someone on the team to be the timekeeper for every executive meeting. If discussions or decisions derail the agenda, put them in the "parking lot" and assign someone to follow up on the issue via email or during the next meeting.
Think critically about the format of your meetings and adjust the plan to keep discussions fresh and relevant. Get feedback on the structure of meetings by issuing meeting effectiveness surveys. By refining the meeting technique and format, you can improve meeting outcomes.
Designing effective meeting agendas is essential to the success of any meeting. Effective meetings are created long before the meeting occurs. Taking the time to prepare an agenda before each meeting will ensure that sessions are productive and efficient.
Thousands of teams use Hugo to create, share, and manage their meeting agendas. This centralized, actionable meeting notes app will transform how you and your team host meetings. With Hugo, you can streamline your meeting prep with one-click templates, capture notes and decisions in real-time, and assign and track tasks with popular work app integrations. Learn more about how Hugo can help optimize and streamline your next leadership team meeting.
Learn how to structure your next executive meeting to be effective, action-driven, and worthwhile. ✅
Leadership team meetings bring together senior leadership and management in a regularly scheduled meeting, for sharing information, ideas, issues, and perspectives.