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How to Conduct a Monthly Business Plan Review Meeting
Posted june 21, 2021 by noah parsons.
Most people think that meetings are a waste of time. They’re right.
The fact is, too many meetings are run poorly, have no real objective, and waste employees’ time — which kills productivity.
I absolutely encourage you to be ruthless in your pursuit of fewer and more efficient meetings. There’s tons of advice out there on how to run better meetings and cut down on useless touch bases that waste time and make your organization move slower.
For example, here at Palo Alto Software , we’ve found one meeting that is simply indispensable. It only takes an hour each month, keeps the management team up to speed on everything that’s going on in the company, and helps us plan and manage in a quick and effective way .
This meeting is our monthly plan review meeting.
What is a plan review meeting?
A monthly review meeting is a time for you and your team to review current progress against your ideal performance. This one-to-two-hour meeting should be spent dissecting parts of your strategy, reviewing financials, and making adjustments based on overall performance. It has been a fixture of our management strategy for years and is simply one of the most effective ways for us to continue to grow the company and adjust our course as necessary.
For us, business planning isn’t just a one-time or annual event. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where we are constantly reviewing and adjusting course as necessary while ensuring that we’re staying on track toward our larger goals .
Why is it important to conduct a monthly plan review?
Every business of any size can benefit from a calculated time to stop, review and revise. When done correctly, this meeting can help you focus on what’s vital for your company, identify what data you need to accurately measure it and how to best present and review these results. Additionally, your monthly plan review process can help your business in the following ways.
Commits your business to learn and act
It can become very easy to let operations and processes become stagnant and standard. Without a regular performance review, any potential problems may remain to fester well beyond when they are first identified. You don’t want to waste company time and resources on things that are ineffective, but it’s difficult to change course without first processing it.
By setting aside this monthly time, it provides the opportunity to commit to learning and adjusting anything and everything. This isn’t based on off-hand information but on solid information and data that helps you identify and evaluate what’s most important for your business.
Engages individuals across your entire business
Depending on how you present this meeting, it has the potential to pull in greater insight from across your business. Whether you’re sharing information company-wide or sticking with select leaders from each department, it immediately expands the scope of expertise.
The more that every leader and employee knows what’s going on with everyone else, the better you can align and produce effective goals . It also provides the opportunity to identify potential solutions or issues from outside your core team’s responsibilities. Maybe your product team sees a potential gap in your marketing messaging. Or someone in HR sees a potential work/life balance misalignment in the sales team. None of this would come to life without a core review meeting like this.
Influences better business conversations
Engaging more people across your business and providing more detailed information typically leads to more fruitful conversations outside the core meeting. Yes, the meeting itself is vital for actively reviewing and adjusting your strategy at the moment. However, this information being top of mind means that potential issues or innovations will be dealt with outside of the planning meeting. This is due to your employees having a clear direction to reference in the day-to-day. They know the strategy and data are up-to-date and that it serves as a north star for their own projects and initiatives.
How to run an effective monthly plan review meeting
We treat planning not as a document, but as a management tool that helps guide decisions and strategy. It’s this mindset that helps our team run these monthly meetings successfully. We have a strategy in place, steps to walk through and key objectives we expect to find.
Here’s a quick overview of how we structure our monthly plan review meetings and what’s worked well for us over the years.
1. Review your financial statements
We always start with the numbers first . How did we do last month compared to our forecast ? How did we do compared to the same month last year? What does our year-to-date performance look like?
What financial statements to review
Ideally, you’ll have the opportunity to review all relevant monthly financial statements. At a minimum, you should review your Profit and Loss Statement , Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement . These will provide a high-level overview of your financial position and help identify any obvious anomalies. If possible, it’s valuable to look at these all together through a business dashboard , that way you can immediately start making connections.
With that top-level exploration in mind, you can then start looking into your budget, financial forecast scenarios, and any specific elements that may seem relevant. This may include things like your expense categories, accounts receivable/payable payment schedules, etc.
Look beyond top-line performance
We always spend time drilling into the numbers, beyond the top-line revenue and expenses to better understand what the drivers were behind our performance. Did all product lines perform well? Or did some underperform? Did we spend as planned or were there some areas that we overspent in?
Most importantly, we review our cash position and cash flow . Did we collect money as planned? What does our cash flow forecast look like for the next few months?
There are benefits to looking at financials together
While financial reports can be reviewed outside of a meeting, reviewing them together as a team encourages questions and discussion around our revenue and spending. It also helps you uncover specific issues or opportunities that you may miss on your own. And of course, gives everyone a voice to determine the next steps for the company as well as their specific teams.
Of course, we use LivePlan to review our numbers because it’s much easier than drilling through exported reports from QuickBooks . But if you’re not ready to make that jump, you can always start out with a simple cash flow template in Excel.
2. Reevaluate your milestones
Once we review our financial performance, we review our “ major milestones ”—the big tasks we had hoped to get done in the past month and our plans for the next month.
We discuss how various teams might be working with each other on different projects and talk about the specific milestones that we have planned. Are these still the tactics that we want to work on that will help achieve our goals? Do we need to shift priorities? Is there new learning and information that would have us change our schedule?
By reviewing major initiatives on a monthly basis, we can stay agile and make changes as needed. That’s also why we review them after parsing through our financials, to determine if our current milestones should still be a priority. As we learn more about our customers and our market , we might shift strategies and develop new milestones .
3. Review your long-term goals and strategy
Next, we review our long-term strategic goals. While this doesn’t change too often in our situation as an established company, new startups might shift their strategy frequently as they search for a business model that works.
For those early-stage startups, this step of the meeting may be the most important step and often takes the longest. For more established companies, this part of the meeting might typically only take a few minutes. This is where having a brief and functional business plan can really help speed up the process.
Instead of delving deep into a 40-page business plan document to review our strategy, we review our our one-page business plan (in LivePlan, it’s called the Pitch ). It covers our company identity, the core problem we solve for our customers, our solution, competition , and sales and marketing strategy . It’s all on one page so it’s easy to read, review, and change quickly .
4. Provide time to discuss any company issues
Finally, anyone on the team can bring forward any issues that they want to discuss. This could include new opportunities to consider, prioritization of product features, potential partnerships, or internal HR issues.
Everything is fair game and we try to come up with resolutions and next steps for any issue that’s brought up.
We’ve found that this type of open-ended discussion really helps generate new ideas and brings different perspectives from managers of different teams.
5. Set meeting guidelines
I believe that all companies would benefit from a monthly review of their business. These types of meetings keep everyone on the same page, help share information about progress, and turn planning into a tool that helps teams make informed decisions.
But in order to run these monthly meetings successfully, you’ll need to do some preliminary work to keep you and your team on track. Here are three tips to successfully establish your monthly business plan review.
Put the meeting on the calendar
It’s important to make it a formal event that’s on the schedule. It can’t be optional and it has to be at a regular time so that everyone always knows when the meeting is.
For us, we started out with the meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month. As our bookkeeping and accounting processes have become more efficient, we’ve been able to move our meeting to the 2nd Friday of the month.
Follow a repeatable agenda
While different topics will come up for discussion, it’s important that your plan review meeting has a repeatable agenda. Not only does it provide structure, but it gives your team specific action items to review beforehand.
That means making sure that you have your numbers ready for review and that your team has updates on their goals. Try to set time limits for each section if you can, and overestimate the length of the meeting with the full intention of finishing earlier than planned. This part will be a continuous work in progress and you and your team will gradually improve your efficiency with each subsequent meeting.
Be prepared to change the plan
These plan review meetings aren’t just about staying the course and blindly following the plan. Instead, they are about adjusting the plan. Perhaps you’ll discover that you should be investing more in marketing, or that you’re going to be able to expand and hire faster than you originally planned.
The plan review meeting is about making adjustments to your goals and strategies based on what you’ve discovered in the past month.
Use your monthly plan review to redefine how you do meetings
Keep in mind that running your meetings more successfully won’t just happen overnight. It takes time to develop a structure that works best for you and your team. As I outlined in this article, the best place to start your meeting restructure is with your monthly plan review meeting.
It’s a necessary review that can be consistently repeated, refined, and adjusted, which makes it the perfect testing ground for a new system.
Editors’ Note: This article was originally written in 2018 and updated for 2021.
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Business Plan Review Schedule
The most important single component of any real business plan – lean plan, traditional plan, or any kind of plan – is a review schedule. This sets the plan into the context of management. Everybody involved (even if that’s just you) needs to review the plan regularly and revise as needed. Make a plan review schedule and keep it. This makes the plan a live management tool, not something to be put away on a shelf and forgotten.
For example, in Palo Alto Software, we had the business plan review schedule standardized, on the third Thursday of every month as the “plan review meeting” day. In the old days, we brought in lunch and took over the conference room. It wasn’t a big deal. Usually we finished in 90 minutes. But we scheduled all the meetings as part of the next year’s plan, and key team members knew they should attend, and wanted to be there. Absences happened, but only when they were unavoidable.
If your plan review process includes specific responsibilities assigned, managers committed, budgets, dates, and measurability, then the review meetings become easier to manage and attend. Include predetermined by the milestones coming due soon, and milestones recently due. Managers review and discuss plan vs. actual results, explaining and analyzing the differences.
Even if it’s just you in your business, you should still do a monthly review. We all benefit from the discipline of a scheduled time to take a step back from the day to day, review progress, analyze results, and make changes. Use the business plan review schedule to manage and steer your business.
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How to: Monthly Business Review
A monthly business review is one of the best ways to make sure your strategic plans stay on track. But how do you avoid getting stuck spending too much time preparing and a too much time in a meeting that may or may not be adding value? This post will give you a roadmap to follow.
What is a Monthly Business Review?
A Monthly Business Review (MBR) is a meeting where you come together to review actual performance against your strategic plan. The primary purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity to reflect on the previous period and see if you are still on track to achieve the targets and if necessary, implement corrective actions before it is too late.
Monthly Business Reviews are one of the critical rituals of a company that wants to be excellent at execution.
Why is a Monthly Business Review important?
- Focus: A monthly review of the business will ensure you stay focused on the established vital few priorities.
- Ownership: By encouraging individuals to take ownership of the metrics that are part of the MBR and to commit to corrective actions when required, the level of individual ownership and commitment will increase.
- Reflection: A scheduled period of reflection is critical for learning. A monthly cadence insures you have 12 periods of reflection in a calendar year.
Focus: Improves communication
Engaging people across your business and providing a specific format where individual KEY metrics are reviewed and discussed will reinforce the focus that those metrics represent. The purpose of any goal or target is to focus the energy and attention of the goal seekers. The monthly cadence is a good interval to provide this strategic reminder.
Ownership: Engage individuals to take responsibility
A monthly business review has the potential to pull in greater insight from across your business. Whether you’re sharing information company-wide or sticking with select leaders from each department, it immediately expands the scope of expertise.
The more that every leader and employee knows what’s going on with everyone else, the better you can align and produce effective goals. It also provides the opportunity to identify potential solutions or issues from outside your core team’s responsibilities.
Reflection: A scheduled time to learn and react
It’s easy to let operations and processes become stagnant and standard. Without a regular performance review, any potential problems may remain to fester well beyond when they’re first identified. You don’t want to waste company time and resources on things that are ineffective, but it’s difficult to change course without first processing it.
By setting aside the monthly time for a monthly business review, it provides the opportunity to commit to learning and adjusting anything and everything. This isn’t based on off-hand information but on solid information and data that helps you identify and evaluate what’s most important for your business.
How to conduct your Monthly Business Review
Agenda for a monthly business review.
The Agenda for a Monthly Business Review should include Goals, Metrics, and Projects, but your primary focus should be on the Metrics. Specifically you should be reviewing each metric and its Target vs. Actual performance. If the actual performance is not where it should be, you should be looking to ensure that there is a plan to fix it in the next period.
A simple formula to follow for a successful Monthly Business Review:
- State the Strategic Goal or perspective
- Identify the Key Metrics
- Identify the Target Value and the Actual Value
- Express the status as a color: Red/ Yellow/Green
- Add a brief comment for each metric explaining the reason for the color code.
Questions to ask in a Business Review
The following questions are appropriate for a Monthly Business Review:
- Is the strategy or goal still important and relevant?
- Is the chosen metric still the best way to measure our progress?
- What is our progress toward the established target? (Indicated with color Red, Yellow, Green).
If target is Green , ask:
- Is there anyone who performed exceptionally that should be recognized? (This is a great opportunity to provide kudos)
If the Target is Yellow , ask:
- Do we know why we missed the target?
- Is a corrective action required?
If the Target is Red , ask:
- What is being done to bring this metric back to green?
Best Tools & Resources to Conduct a Monthly Business Review
Download this Business_Review_Template PDF to help you more easily and efficiently manage your Monthly Business Review with metrics and targets in place.
Moreover, you are prompted to use these resources from KPI Fire to conduct better business reviews and maintain your CI projects:
- Balanced Scorecard Examples
- Should you be using a Balanced Scorecard?
- Using the Balanced Scorecard Feature in KPI Fire
If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to download your free DEMO version of KPI Fire to easily and efficiently plan, execute and manage your Monthly Business Review.
Watch as Keith Norris, CEO of KPI Fire takes you step-by-step on how to use KPI Fire to make your Monthly Business Review the most important meeting of the month…
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About the author: keith norris.
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How To Run A Monthly Review Meeting
Conduct a monthly review meeting by setting a clear agenda, reviewing progress on previous goals, discussing new objectives, taking feedback and suggestions, and ending with agreed-upon action steps for the upcoming month.
- Steps in this Guide: 9
- Last Updated: November 13, 2023
A Monthly Review Meeting is a scheduled gathering where team members, project managers, or departments convene to assess the status, progress, and future strategies of a project or business operations. In the context of software and technology, this could involve evaluating software development processes, analyzing bug reports, checking on the progress of coding tasks, discussing technological advancements, or planning software updates. The central goal is to foster communication, troubleshoot issues, align objectives, and set clear expectations for the upcoming month.
monthly review meeting: Step-by-Step Explanation
For any business to succeed, effective communication is a critical factor. One such crucial communication channel is regular monthly review meetings. These meetings serve as an essential platform for analyzing progress, addressing issues, and strategizing for the future. However, running these meetings can often feel like a herculean task if not executed with precision and effectiveness. In this blog post, we delve into a comprehensive guide on how to run a monthly review meeting that fosters productivity, encourages open dialogue, and drives your team closer to their objectives. Whether it is a small start-up or a mega-corporation, the techniques unpacked here will revolutionize the way you handle review meetings. Prepare to take the driver’s seat as we navigate through the intricacies of a successful review meeting.
Step 1: Agenda Setting
Step 2: kpi examination, step 3: seo audit, step 4: content review, step 5: competitor analysis, step 6: strategic planning, step 7: meeting conclusion, step 8: documentation, step 9: follow-up.
The purpose of a monthly review meeting is to evaluate the performance and progress over the past month. It's an opportunity to review objectives, evaluate productivity, address challenges encountered, discuss successes and put measures in place for improvements.
Typically, key stakeholders in the project or operation should attend the monthly review meeting. This can include team leads, project managers, team members involved in the work at hand and, at times, organization executives.
The typical structure starts with reviewing the minutes from the previous meeting, followed by updates on work done over the past month. Then, we discuss challenges faced and solutions found, followed by an evaluation of achievements against set goals, a look at key performance indicators, and finally an open forum for suggestions and setting objectives for the next month.
To ensure effectiveness, an agenda should be prepared and circulated prior to the meeting. The meeting should start and finish on time. Participants should be encouraged to contribute and all discussions should be focused, relevant, and concise. Action items need to be assigned and followed up on in subsequent meetings.
After the meeting, the minutes, including key points discussed, decisions made, and action plans, should be circulated to all participants and stakeholders. Assigned tasks should be tracked for progress and included in the agenda for the next month's review meeting.
This Guide was created by:
Disclaimer: We strive to keep our software guides up to date. However, the user interfaces of software products can change rapidly, making information quickly outdated. At the end of the guide, you can provide feedback on whether the article was helpful to you.
Step-by-Step: monthly review meeting
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The Business Review Meeting
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A business review meeting is a specific type of recurring meeting that is held to discuss individual or team scorecards and progress toward objectives. During the business review meeting, teams apply problem-solving tools to issues that are impacting their performance. Team leaders, managers and senior leadership assume coaching roles which emphasize positive feedback and recognition.
- Reinforce the accountability and action plans of each team or individual
- Share ideas and learn about interrelationships in the business
- Celebrate success
- Identify and remove barriers
Roles of leaders in the business review meeting process:
- Articulating the organization’s vision
- Involving people in deciding how to achieve the organization’s vision
- Supporting employee efforts to realize vision by providing coaching, feedback, and role modeling
- Recognizing and rewarding success
The business review meeting process:
Business review meetings are scheduled on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) and include a presentation of key performance measures (individual and/or team). Baselines (historical performance), current data and projected trends are presented for each goal or critical success factor. Key successes are shared with the group as well as required interventions and actions to overcome barriers. Working together, the team develops action plans to improve performance – steps to reach objectives are identified; individuals are assigned responsibility for each step; target completion dates are established for each step and expected results are communicated.
Why have a business review meeting?
- Opportunity to assess the current performance status of each team or individual
- Opportunity to highlight and recognize good performance
- Opportunity to gain input from peers and management on ideas, scorecards and action plans for the next time period
- Opportunity for leaders to focus the team on critical issues, goals and objectives
- Opportunity to make decisions as a team
- Opportunity to give and receive feedback
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The Business Review Meeting topic bundle includes:
- Business Review Meeting Cheat Sheet (pdf)
- In-Depth Topic Overview
- How to Make a Successful Presentation at a Business Review Meeting
- How to Lead the Business Review Meeting Process
- Recommended Resources – where to find out even more about business review meetings
- Business Review Meeting Podcast (mp3)
- Business Review Meeting Podcast Slides (Powerpoint)
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A Successful Business Review Meeting Paves the Path for Your Business Success
QBRs are the perfect time to showcase your business perspective and the business impact you’ve had on your clients. This is a critical exercise that bridges the gap between your clients, your product/services, and your company.
The customer success team always understands the importance of demonstrating value to every client in a well-organized and timely manner.
However, the business landscape of both the client and service provider can always be in a state of fluctuation. So, meeting your clients frequently makes sense, isn’t it? That’s what quarterly business review (QBR) is all about.
Over nine months, the LoginRadius’ customer success team has been engaged to arrange the QBR’s with all its clients, and we’ve done some brainstorming to synchronize processes for better outcomes.
Let’s understand the crucial aspects of quarterly business reviews and how companies can collaborate and scale business growth.
- What is a Quarterly Business Review (QBR)?
A quarterly business review can be defined as a once-per-quarter meeting between a vendor (like a technology partner like us) with their clients.
During a QBR, both the client and vendor discuss how their business impacts the client, what the processes are being followed, and brainstorm ideas to provide a competitive edge.
Though it can be pretty challenging for some clients to visit the vendor’s location physically, remote QBRs are swiftly becoming part of the customer success best practices.
- What are the Objectives of a Successful Quarterly Business Review?
QBRs offer endless opportunities to clients and vendors since we don’t see customers as a deal rather a long-term relationship. It’s one of the best ways to ensure consistent growth with the clients by conducting a quarterly business review.
Let’s have a quick look at some of the essential objectives of a successful QBR:
- Review Past Performance: One of the crucial aspects of conducting a QBR is to review the past performance and key metrics that help analyze overall growth. Moreover, examining the spend volume, KPIs, and SLAs also help in tailoring future strategies for maximum ROI.
- Assessing Progress: QBRs are the perfect time to assess progress towards strategic goals. Both the client and vendor can carefully evaluate the overall improvement of the pre-defined goals.
- Demonstrating Positive Contribution of Your Solution: Another crucial aspect of QBRs is that you, as a vendor, get a chance to prove the positive contribution and impact your solutions are making to the client’s business. This helps in building trust and lasting business relationships .
- Setting Result-Based Goals: Result-based goals are always honest in execution and can be measured over time. You can discuss your previous goals with your clients and let them check if your benchmarks are achieved. Further, you can set result-based goals for the future as well.
- Forecast Future Trends: Vendors can explain the future trends that can help their clients stay ahead of the curve. Showing them your action plans to achieve the same could be a game-changer in terms of building trust in your clients since they’re getting more than what they’ve asked.
- Stages that LoginRadius Covers in QBR
A QBR is undoubtedly a single chance that allows you to bolster your image among your clients and their stakeholders; make sure you prepare well with valuable content and information.
LoginRadius understands the value that each client brings to our organization, and hence, we’re now emphasizing building lasting relationships with our clients through QBRs. Here are the stages of QBR that we cover:
- The Usage Overview
- Overall Growth of the Business
- Support Review
- Challenges and Feedbacks
- Expansion and Forecasting
- What Should be the Content of the QBR?
If you’re not sure about the purpose of QBR and its value to your business and clients, you first need to understand the aspects defining the need of a QBR. Here’s what your QBR must contain:
You need to create an agenda for the meeting and make sure you circulate the same to all the attendees in advance so that they’re well aware of the purpose of the QBR.
Keep a list of business outcomes your clients have achieved through your product/services in the previous quarter. Demonstrate the client with correct performance metrics and numbers.
Once you depict their achievements through your product/services, it’s the right time to show them what more their brand can achieve in the future. It’s crucial to share future goals and your benchmark plans to chase them.
Portray Your Action Plan
Since sharing goals alone won’t build trust and confidence with your client, you have to portray your action plan well in advance. Also, make the type of collaboration you would need with the client’s team to achieve your goals.
- How to Add Value to the QBR?
We believe that the key to the successful conduction of a QBR lies in adding value to the QBR. It’s important to understand that the client can derive value from the session and eventually build trust in your team. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Let Customers Speak: Presenting your thoughts and action plans is a must, but it is equally important to let your customers portray their point of view. Allow them to speak and listen to their opinion, agenda, and further plans.
- Ask Questions: It’s crucial to ask questions shortly and crisply every time you present a plan. This will help the client better understand your strategies, but eventually, they’ll feel more valued and engaged.
- Stretch the Discussion if it’s Adding Value: If you think your client is gaining value from your thoughts and action plans, you can stretch the discussion further by sharing your plans and goals with them.
- The Bottom Line
A quarterly business review benefits both the client and the vendor since they get a chance to connect and learn how things are working and prepare an action plan for the future.
It’s the job of the customer success team to correctly deliver the expectations and smartly use QBRs to transform their clients’ businesses .
Moreover, you can help cement the relationship since you get a lot of feedback from your client's team that further helps plan things better.
Enterprises that aren’t yet leveraging the true potential of QBRs must quickly put their best foot forward in conducting the same for ensuring better and lasting relationships with their clients.
Written by Ritika Kapahi
A Customer Success Manager within LoginRadius. Experienced Project Management Specialist with a demonstrated history of working with the customers in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in Customer Service, Customer Retention and project management.
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Tim berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime., a good resolution: schedule regular management meetings.
It’s not too late to schedule your monthly management meetings for this year. Use some regular meeting schedule such as the third or fourth Thursday of every month. Review your business plan milestone dates, deadlines, tasks, plan vs. actual results, and upcoming milestone dates and deadlines. All the managers committed to the plan will know way ahead of time so there are few reasons to miss a meeting.
Some excuses will come up. There will be events like trade shows or client events that some managers have to attend. However, with a preplanned schedule for review meetings, these problems won’t happen that often.
If your planning process includes a good plan — with specific responsibilities assigned, managers committed, budgets, dates, and measurability — then the review meetings become easier to manage and easier to attend. The agenda of each meeting should be predetermined by the milestones coming due soon, and milestones recently due. Managers review and discuss plan vs. actual results, explain and analyze the differences.
The monthly plan vs. actual review includes financial results and other measurables — product milestones, support calls, sales events, etc. — and takes just two hours a month.
It doesn’t take that much time, but there is very little in management more valuable. It makes your plan a planning process. And planning process turns planning into management.
I like this concept because it forces accountability. What’s your advice to those that are managing a larger organization of people, say 10-12? Do you find these meetings are still effective if you consolidate into one meeting with the entire leadership team rather than 10-12 individual?
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