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Learn how to run a productive WIP meeting

Being a manager often isn’t easy, nor is finding the time to spend quality time discussing your team’s past, present and future activities with them. Let alone strategy meetings, budget meetings, supplier meetings, business partner meetings, staff development meetings… the list goes on.

Hopefully this post will provide a little help with planning those first get-togethers – work in progress meetings (WIPs). There’s no ‘right’ regularity to these; we all have different team structures, workplace locations, working relationships and other arrangements that create touch points within a business.

The only ‘right’ with a WIP is to make sure it’s regular, no matter how often you do have them (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly) or via which channel (phone, instant message, face to face, Skype or other).

One habit you may consider forming is to create a repository where you enter new WIP items and thoughts at any time they arise. This list may contain ideas, questions, follow up actions and more, and may be shareable with your team as an online or shared library file, or a list that only you add to.

As for structuring a WIP, consider these areas to communicate about at least a semi-regular basis:

  • Internal core business growth activities, which may be structured by operational areas.
  • External core business growth activities, which may be structured by each growth campaign being run.
  • Key performance indicator (KPI) progress per individual or team, depending on development maps.
  • Competitor intelligence, such as information you’ve seen or heard about their activities.
  • Positive client feedback received directly or indirectly.
  • Activity backburner or ‘parking lot’ list revisit.
  • Staff feedback on their needs such as resourcing, environment, training, people management, social activities and more.
  • Praise for anyone who has done a terrific job.
  • Current issues, which could be anything from time constraints to supplier attitudes – providing a forum to vent can produce a resolution or at least a comforting feeling of a problem shared.
  • Internal innovation – a look at recent improvements across the business and ideas of potential improvements.
  • External innovation – encourage a staff member to look into and report back on an advance made by an inspiring business, to get everyone thinking about what’s possible.
  • Feedback on your managerial skills (eg. whether you could have improved how you ran recent meetings, whether staff feel like they have enough time with you, etc).

Be sure to share a WIP agenda at least a few hours before its start time, to give your attendees a chance to digest and plan their discussion points. The preparation everyone does beforehand can assist longer-term too, by providing a permanent record of activity to refer back to when approaching bi-annual or annual person/professional development reviews.

You may also want to assign a staff member to run the meeting, to give them a sense of responsibility or simply to lighten your workload. Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean you need to manage the WIPs.

And don’t forget to put on some food every now and then. They say a way to a man’s heart is through his belly… that can apply to your team as well!

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Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard is MYOB's manager for public relations. She has more than a decade of experience in the public relations space, spanning B2C and B2B corporate and consulting roles within the technology, financial services, franchising and FMCG industries. At MYOB she delivers programs communicating its vision, business advocacy stance and milestones as it advances products towards and within the online landscape.

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