Oregon Solar News

The Art of Maintaining Control in a Market Full of Uncertainty: Building Culture and Communication through Well-planned Meetings


By Tamara Staton, Thriving Solar -- As we continue to ride the tumultuous solar coaster, many industry professionals naturally wonder what lurks around the corner in this ever-changing solar market. While we can't predict the future, there are things that we can do as business owners, executives, and managers to maintain control under circumstances that are mostly out of our control. This monthly column highlights various strategies that have the capacity to help your solar business thrive in a market where many might find themselves just struggling to survive. This column is of my own opinion and viewpoint.

We've all been in meetings that we wished would end before they even started. The air is heavy and the tone is dull. The information comes flying at us, with no room for input, questions or concerns. An agenda is missing, or lacking at best, with no flexibility to address what arises in the space. And there's certainly no laughter nor room for humor - a serious and focused leader at the front demands our silence and focused attention.

Is it possible to facilitate a meeting that people actually benefit from and enjoy? Is it possible to have such a meeting first thing on a Monday morning, with groggy team members stumbling in from a much needed weekend respite? And are such meetings of any benefit to a solar company attempting to create or maintain a strong foothold in a tenuous market?

Yes. Yes. And yes. A well-planned all-staff meeting, early in the week, can make all the difference for a company seeking to build and maintain a thriving team culture with clear, open, and respectful communication. Such a meeting allows staff members to get on the same page, making space for logical challenges to be seen and discussed. It creates the opportunity for people to get to know one another better, discovering things about each other that would otherwise never arise in the workplace. Such all-staff meetings send the strong message that the team is unified, working towards the same goals and the underlying mission of the company.

Last month, in my column entitled Reducing Stress through Open Dialogue, I addressed the value of bringing people together for an informational meeting as a way to reduce both individual and company-wide stress. Having regular all-staff meetings, as described above, can similarly reduce stress, but has the added benefit of creating a strength of team that can serve as a stronghold when the solar market is leaving challenges on our doorstep. But it's all about the flavor of the meeting, which is strongly dictated by the content and the flow. Having a well-thought-out check-in question can be the fire that gets the team laughing, connected, and perhaps, even embodying company values. Allowing space for celebration and concern can bring people on to the same page, which is integral to company efficiency and productivity. Attention to meeting layout can allow people to see eye to eye, and discuss openly with few obstacles between them.

The team at Synchro Solar has been having such staff-meetings for about a year, and many of the staff report a marked improvement in team culture, communication and efficiency.

“The Monday morning meetings allow our team the time to share in celebration, enact constructive change, and enhance company culture. In an industry where we all really love what we do, it's only natural that spending 30 minutes together would bring out the best in people.” - Kelli Wolford, Assistant Manager at Synchro Solar

It can be tempting to avoid having meetings - most of us don't like them, do our best to resist them, and may even share the common opinion that they are a mere waste of time. But, the well-planned and facilitated meeting can set your company apart. It can be your footing in the wind, your ballast in the storm, and your reflection in those moments when the sun breaks through.

Best Practices for Planning a 30-Minute Meeting:

  • Plan to have the mtg early in the week, at a time when both field and office staff can attend.
  • Create an agenda in advance.
  • Post the agenda in a place where people can see it and add to it as things come up.
  • Set up the space so that everyone can see each other easily, without needing to turn around.
  • Start the meeting with a well-thought-out question which gets people laughing or gives them an opportunity to get to know each other better.
  • Allow space for celebration and concern.
Should you be interested in learning more about integrating a thriving culture into your own business or team, or how you might attract more customers, ease communication, and align company profits with the overall growth of solar, contact Tamara Staton directly at thrivingsolar.com.
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