What Is an Executive Review - Meetings & Agendas
Conducting good executive business reviews is essential for any company that wants to run and grow efficiently. While there are many types of meetings at the executive level, most revolve around one of two purposes: running the business or changing the business.
A superb meeting leads to attendees feeling energized, understanding their roles, and prepared to take their next steps. A poor meeting results in disengaged, unmotivated, and confused team members. Whether you’re running an executive review virtually or in person, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your agenda and plan accordingly.
Meetings that focus on running the business cover best practices for executing daily operations efficiently and effectively. This involves monitoring the performance of each executive, discussing warning signs, and developing strategies for changing course.
On the other hand, change-the-business meetings are all about facilitating innovation, identifying and capitalizing on business opportunities, and getting a step ahead of competitors. Many of these meetings focus on the future direction of the company and how your team can pivot its priorities so that your next quarter is the best one yet.
Below, Poised discusses the ins and outs of an executive review and explains how to prepare your meetings and agendas for success.
What Are the Key Parts of an Executive Review?
As you may have learned by now in your career, some types of meeting agendas demand more thought and planning than others. An executive meeting agenda requires you to dedicate valuable time to preparations so you can maximize the meeting’s potential.
These meetings involve senior management and address crucial issues at the highest level, meaning there is a sharp focus on problem-solving and determining the best ways to move forward with critical decisions.
In other words, you must thoughtfully consider every agenda item to ensure no one is wasting their time. Arranging an executive review can be challenging, and your meetings' essential elements and templates will depend on your team’s specific purposes, topics, and strategies.
That said, there are a few general aspects that every executive meeting and agenda should include. Keep in mind that these are not the only important parts of a high-level meeting but that mastering them will set you up for success:
Giving Constructive Feedback
Ideally, you’ll establish trust with your managers on a daily basis, which will make your reviews go much more smoothly. When it comes to the meetings themselves, bring a balanced approach of positive and negative feedback.
Only touting what the employee is doing well can create a false sense of job security and stifle innovation and growth. Focusing too much on their shortcomings can lead to negative attitudes, disengagement, and other poor consequences.
Also, focus on observing team members instead of interpreting them. Try not to assign meaning or intent to a person’s actions until you’ve listened to what they have to say. Be sure to present issues as things you’ve observed and allow the employee to explain their perspective. One way to encourage this is to ask follow-up questions.
It’s crucial to be specific in your constructive feedback. It won’t do your team any good to tell a manager they need to improve their performance without providing details on what needs to be fixed or how to fix it. They will likely become frustrated because they won’t know precisely what you need from them, and no one will get the desired results.
For instance, you might tell an employee that they have a strong framework for their presentation but are missing essential information on one of the topics. Doing so will affirm them in what they’re doing well while guiding them toward improvement.
Further, steer clear of generalized positive feedback. Avoid ending with “nice work” or “good job.” Meaningful compliments demonstrate you thoughtfully observed their work and genuinely appreciate their contribution.
Praising Team Members for Their Achievements
Every executive review meeting and agenda should provide a platform for congratulating team members for their accomplishments. This is much easier when you keep a running list of successes for each person you can refer to during meetings. Observe your managers in the workplace. Take note of moments when individuals (or the entire team) go above and beyond.
As discussed, it’s essential to know precisely what you appreciate about a person‘s work so you can provide them with specific praise; this will show that you’re being genuine instead of using corporate speak. Tell your executives exactly what you like about their performance and why you like it.
Another way to show your employees appreciation is to assign tasks that stretch their knowledge and abilities. Challenging a person might be an indirect form of praise, but it shows that you trust them, which is the most powerful way that you can praise and recognize someone.
Asking each executive for their opinions on a specific business problem can also demonstrate trust. After praising someone for their efforts and contributions, give them the opportunity to contribute their stake in solving a problem. Doing so will show that you believe in their capability to push the company forward.
Praising your executives publicly can go a long way in building trust and rapport too. Think of how you can bring attention to a team member’s work and dedication in front of their peers, whether through a group executive meeting, company-wide email, or impromptu gathering in the office.
It’s essential for an office (in-person or remote) to be healthy, happy, and functional. People have more options for job mobility with the influx of remote work. This translates into financial concerns:
Since the pandemic, staffing has been a main pain point for everyone — from large to small businesses. Employee turnover is more than just disruptive; it’s costly. Hiring a new employee can cost around $4,000. If employees feel appreciated and enjoy coming (or logging on) to work, it will positively impact the company’s bottom line.
Asking for a Self-Assessment From Team Members
One of the best ways to get the most from your executive reviews is to encourage your employees to complete a self-assessment. This gives your executives a chance to thoroughly understand and consider their recent performance, contributions, and shortcomings.
Not only will this information save everyone’s time during meetings, but it will also improve communication and pave the way for optimal results.
Start by leading your team by example. Take time to create your own self-assessment and share it with your direct reports before the next executive review. Keep your employees informed on the company's short-term and long-term goals and values, and clarify that every performance review is about the person's career and not just the job.
The ultimate objective is to keep key stakeholders satisfied and the company growing, which is the entire team’s responsibility, from the chief executive to the social media influencers.
Creating Actionable Steps for Improvement
Having clear objectives is crucial for your executive review meetings, but you must leave your team members with actionable steps on how they can improve. Each executive should receive specific action items with associated due dates on how they can navigate obstacles, solve problems, and monitor their success en route to personal and organizational goals.
Allow time at the end of the executive review meeting to review notes and define the next steps with your employees. Be sure to leave room for feedback and comments to ensure that the performance conversation feels resolved. And create an action plan that guides the team member to success.
How Do You Conduct Better Executive Reviews?
Understanding the basic elements of an executive review will do wonders for making your meetings successful. You could say it’s half the battle.
Every agenda item must be planned out to minimize wasted time, and you must prioritize constructive feedback among all your leaders and employees. It’s also critical to give your team members praise when it’s due, including specific observations that highlight their contributions to the company.
Requiring your employees to conduct self-assessments will make your executive review meetings go smoother as well. Ending each meeting with a clear action plan for improvement will ensure everyone progresses toward their goals.
That said, let’s not forget how vital communication details are to meetings. Here are a few communication tips for running better executive reviews:
Practice Active Listening
As with any type of meeting, it’s important to actively listen to your executive during performance reviews. Active listening comes in many forms but focuses on your nonverbal cues and verbal affirmations.
Demonstrating to a person that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say can instantly create rapport and encourage the individual to engage in the conversation. The more an employee opens up about their concerns, ideas, and feelings; the more productive the performance review will be. Intentionally maintain eye contact and make short remarks to show that you’re following along, and look for opportunities to ask questions that allow the person to elaborate.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions are any questions that provoke a productive response. Think of them as the opposite of yes-or-no questions.
You might ask an executive a question that sparks them to elaborate on a comment they’ve made. For example, if they mention that they’ve struggled to learn a new technology the company just implemented, you might ask them, “What task are you having the most trouble with?“
Watch Your Body Language
Your body language tells a lot about your interest level in a conversation. The last thing you want is to appear disinterested, disengaged, or disappointed during an executive review. It’s essential for the team member to feel comfortable discussing the positive and negative aspects of their performance.
Be mindful of not crossing your arms or staring off into space while the person is speaking. Try to maintain an open posture and flash a genuine smile now and then.
Tailoring your body language may require you to practice, but using a communication coach like Poised can help you quickly improve. Our software alerts users of their nonverbal communication performance in real-time and provides practical tips for showing more engagement.
Get Feedback From Your Team
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your team for feedback on how you’re running executive review meetings. Be it positive or negative, any feedback can be constructive, and requesting it from your direct reports shows you genuinely care about their success.
People like to follow confident yet humble leaders. Asking for feedback is a practical way to demonstrate both qualities while learning actionable steps to becoming a better communicator and leader.
Everyone has vulnerabilities; acknowledging this helps humanize upper management and equalizes the workplace so that it’s more of a partnership and less of a dictatorship.
Run Better Reviews With Help From Poised
Conducting effective executive reviews is a critical practice for all types of companies. Whether your upcoming meetings center around running a business or developing growth strategies, taking time to diligently prepare will dramatically boost your chances of a productive review.
As you prepare for your next one-on-one meeting, remember to consider any tools that can help you become a more impactful communicator. The Poised communication coach can take your verbal and nonverbal communication to new heights with real-time feedback and analysis to improve your communication metrics over time.