Weekly Review Meetings to Create A High Performance Culture

Yesterday, I did my 8th continuous weekly review meeting with Artha’s interns, analysts, associates, and heads of departments. I did a similar exercise during my last year at the family office and carried it forward to the first team of analysts at the fund. Due to specific personal and professional commitments, I broke this habit until my EA reminded me of the benefits of that practice. I re-read Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager in October last year, and immediately, I restarted the weekly review practice in November, adding elements of Tony Robbin’s RPM methodology, something that I wrote about in my first post of 2020.
The format of the weekly review meeting is simple.

  • The meeting is conducted 1 on 1 with each team member for 30-45 minutes
  • Their direct reporting manager’s presence is a must
  • We first discuss the outcomes promised by the team member for the current meeting
    • If the team member misses their committed outcomes, they provide
      • Reasons why did they did not fulfill their promises?
      • How will they avoid this situation in the future?
      • What help or resources they need from us to get to their goals?
    • If a team member meets or exceeds their promised outcomes, they explain
      • Why were they successful?
      • How it felt to achieve their promised outcomes
      • How can they repeat this performance in the future?
      • How could they help others in performing like them?
      • What was their learning from this exercise?
    • Then the team member provides their commitments to delivering outcomes before the next review meeting.
      • The outcomes promised for the following week are recorded on a shared excel
      • It is updated during the meeting and shared in an internal Team’s channel created for weekly review

It is clear at the outset that this meeting is not the time to get specific things reviewed. I conduct weekly reviews to clearly define what each individual is doing for the firm and how their efforts get them to their outcomes and (as a result) help the firm reach its outcomes. Therefore the most crucial part of this meeting is the quality of information on the committed outcomes, therefore:

  • Be specific and quantifiable
  • Challenge the individual to continue to grow in different aspects of their job role. For example, an analyst working with me must commit to complete the following outcomes before the next meeting:
    • The number of deals that they will source directly from their efforts and input into Salesforce. During the review, they must
      • List out the deals sourced
      • Highlight the deals they like and why
    • The number of transactions that will be completed and move out of the active pipeline
    • The number of ecosystem events they will attend and during the review, they must
      • Give details on what they learned and how it benefits their job role
    • Give the number of events that they will attend over the next 30 days
    • Read a book, write a book review and distribute it internally for feedback
    • Prepare an essay, presentation, or report on a topic of their interest or on a subject that is essential for their job and have it:
      • Distributed internally
      • Amended and finalized based on peer feedback
      • Present the final version for sharing on the AVF blog
    • List out activities that they are doing for the investee companies assigned to them and provide the latest news on them and their competitors

I like this style of review meetings because it separates the wheat from the chaff. It exposes the team members that are excellent at presenting an image of competence but are slowing down the team. The weekly review system compels them to show me how they are helping the team reach their goals and that they are improving themselves to take on more significant challenges.
As their leader, the periodic review allows me to figure out which team members are struggling, plateauing or spiraling down. I pay close attention to their weekly reports and their overall attitude during the meeting. It allows me to identify issues quickly, isolate them down to a lack of skill and/or understanding and/or environmental problems and create a plan on how to check the slide and get the team member back on track.
Unfortunately, this practice identifies a small subset as misfits for the requirements of the jobs or culture of performance. Those people will quickly find ways to avoid attending the weekly review, scheduling professional or personal appointments, or running away from any reporting that exposes them. I try to reach out to them to the best of my ability, but if the situation does not improve, I must let them go, or they quit. I do not take those losses to heart because a misfit’s departure makes space for some who can, will, and wants to run with the baton.
The new weekly review format has me excited, and the improvement in the team members is encouraging me to make it the central theme of my week. The most significant benefit of this exercise is that it connects me with the person at the frontline of my businesses. I can empathize with their struggles and those of the company and course-correct before things spiral out of control. It also provides me valuable information to decide when I should to press the accelerator or hit the brakes.
Once again I have blocked out a day a week to conduct these reviews, and I am teaching the leaders around me to start doing weekly reviews. It frees up the management from micro-managing and gives the team members the freedom to chose their outcomes and how they will get there. The go-getters love it, the pikers hate it, and the firm enjoys massive gains in productivity!

Setting Outcomes for 2020

On our last working day of the decade, i.e., the 27th of December 2019, I asked the Artha team to congregate in our conference room. At 5 pm, 24 Artha team members stuffed themselves into a space built for 8, and another 6 joined in from Ahmedabad on Zoom.
First, I enquired how many attendees had written down their resolution for 2020 – it was less than 10%. From that sliver, I picked on the newest hire, to share her resolution for 2020. Along expected lines, the newbie said, “I want to be fit.”
Thanking her for sharing their personal goal, and I also made a solemn promise that unless she changed how she worded her resolution, she was going to fail. She was shocked, but my reasoning was straightforward.
Her resolution was so generic that even a 100g drop in her body weight would mean that she had achieved her goal. Instead of pointing the finger at their colleague, I asked the team to utilize her example and replace their resolution setting or list of “to-dos” with plans to deliver outcomes that they wanted to achieve.
To help them understand the outcome setting concept, I showed a Tony Robbins video on the Rapid Planning Method (RPM).

As Tony says in the video, it takes a bit of effort to retrain oneself so that we make plans for outcomes, not activities. The good news is that the brain adapts quickly to the new system and starts to deliver fantastic results! I utilize the RPM method for planning and for my weekly reviews with team members that directly report to me. It takes some effort at the start, but I am amazed at the tremendous ability of the mind to find new ways and energy to deliver an outcome. It should not be a surprise that I am a big proponent of this planning method.
I even had a clear outcome for conducting this training. I wanted my team to internalize the message and put the outcome planning into action. Therefore I tasked each team member to share 3 outcomes that they wanted to achieve in 2020. The had to find 3 outcomes for the personal, professional, and social/charitable spheres of their lives in the next 4 days and share it on the company-wide group on Microsoft Teams.

Why share the outcomes publicly?
If writing the outcomes is half the battle, publicly committing to those outcomes is the other half – the winning half!

Because my team (obviously) includes me I, too, wrote down my 2020 outcomes. But in addition to sharing it with my teammates, I am sharing them publicly, today. I had done a similar but unfocussed exercise in 2018. Overall, it delivered fantastic results because of the pressure it put on me. Why then, I thought to myself, should I change something that is working!
So without further ado, here is my list of outcomes.
Professional

  1. Increase Artha’s assets under management to over Rs. 300 crores+ ($40 million+)
  2. Invest in 25+ new start-ups
    1. When I achieve this goal, I will complete a century of start-up investments!
  3. Pay-out bonuses of 60 lakhs+ ($85k) to deserving team members

Personal

  1. Go to Tony Robbin’s Unleash the Power Within with a family member and an Artha team member
    1. Besides, go for Tony’s Date with Destiny and Business Mastery workshops
  2. Author a book
  3. Complete 50 scuba dives

Social/Charitable

  1. Support a crowdfunding project every week (#FundingFriday)
  2. Set aside 2 hours a week to mentor a child (@mentormeindia)
  3. Build or Upgrade ONE school along with the Artha team

That’s the list for you to track and me to deliver, let’s roll…
I wish you a happy new year full of achieving outcomes!
1/2020