The COO Show
The COO Show

Episode 10 · 8 months ago

The 4 H’s Powering a Great EOS Meeting w/ Nicole Mennicke


It’s that time again: Quarterly Planning Sessions have arrived.

And whether that fills you with dread or uncontrollable excitement, may come down to how effectively you planned ahead for your marathon session of, well… planning ahead.

Today’s guest, Nicole Mennicke , Integrator & Vice President at Rocket Clicks, falls in the latter category — and it’s because 4 proactive rules ensure everyone leaves the quarterly planning happy about the meeting.

In this episode, we discuss:

- The 4 H’s powering a successful quarterly planning session

- How to have clear expectations and accountability while remaining kind

And be sure to check out the books we mentioned in the episode:

- Traction - Gino Wickman

- Radical Candor - Kim Scott 

- No Rules Rules - Reed Hastings; Erin Meyer

- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni 

Do you have ideas for or feedback about this show? Email your host Bill Reed at

This post is based on an episode of the COO Show podcast. Be sure to hear every conversation about innovative COO strategies at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The COO Show in your favorite podcast player.

Welcome to the CEO show, a podcast brought to you by sweetfish media that features conversations with leaders like you and shares the real life stories of the operations professionals laying the groundwork for the success of their teams. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the CEO show. So glad you joined us for this episode. My name is Bill Reid and I am your host. Today we have with US Nicole Menikey, and this is a real treat. Nicole and I met thirty, maybe sixty days ago, and Nicole happens to be an EOS integrator and I do as well, so we had lots in common and we're going to talk here for thirty minutes. Will probably wish we had an hour. At any rate, Nicole, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. You Bet I am so looking forward to this. For listeners who are familiar with the OS, we're going to talk a lot about integrator stuff, like we like we typically do. But for those of you who are not familiar with Eos, I would recommend at the very least picking up the book traction and learning just a little bit about what they called entrepreneurial operating system. So we're integrators. We we talk integrating and that's what we're going to do today. In particular, we're going to talk about how to have a SUC cessful quarterly planning session and the Cole we talked before the show. We just had our quarterly meeting, I guess, so we could go yesterday and you mentioned to me that you've had yours recently as well. Yeah, that's correct. How did it go? Well, it was actually it was one of our favorite courely planning sessions that we've ever had a ton of great conversation adhering to the four each is that you know we're about to talk about today and I know it's. How relevant is it right now, with Pete being the quarterly planning season for so many companies? Yeah, well, we had we had probably the most difficult session that we've had. Very productive, but you know, we've been doing this long enough that that's some software issues. I guess I'd say probably a better word for that, but some issues came up and we were able to deal with those, set the agenda aside and actually deal with some issues that had had needed to be dealt with for quite some time, and that's what I love about the planning session. We have a structure going in, but we have a lot of flexibility as well. So today we're going to talk about four hs. You know, when I saw your notes I thought about for AH. Did you have four age where you were? We sure did. Yeah, I grew up in the heart of Nebraska farm country and I didn't live on a farm. I think I took up photography for about a week in for H. that's about us, as far as I made it, but along this outing. You know, what a great way to teach and equip our kids.

Today we're going to talk about the four HS and in the context of planning and Nicole. You want to just run through what those are and then we'll dig in? Yeah, absolutely, I say the four ages are number one, homework, the homeworks completed to we all commit to house rules. So that's number two, and health is prioritized throughout the session. And then finally, honesty, how to how to get to the to the root of the core issues. Hmmm, I love that homework. I'm really intrigued by that. We do some prep, but I'm excited to learn a little bit more about what you do specifically with your team ahead of the session. But let's jump in before we come back to homework, let's jump into house rules. Tell me a little bit about how your meeting is typically structured and then we'll dig inst to some of the finer points here. Absolutely we we definitely follow the the EOS agenda pure but one of the things we found out over seven years of quarterly plannings there are things that derail really productive conversations and so what we did as we listed out these these things and we made rules against them. So there's a full tit list of ten of them. I think there's groupings of them, though, that are just really key to that. We can touch on the first one really being distraction free. A couple of them are around making sure we're not emailing, chatting, trying to work onto do's or taking breaks. People jump, especially in this zoom world, people taking breaks at different times or people get up and walk another room and staying on camera. So a four of the ten or actually just arounds being very present in the meeting. So you mentioned being on camera. You apparently do your quarterly playing session remotely. Is that correct? And an ideal world we always do it in person, but with the last eight team month, that this last quarter was our first one in person, which is probably why we loved it so much. But the the last eighteen months we were doing it full remote, so we had to flex a little bit and commit to each other, like not muting or not turning off camera. Do you require that people be on camera? I mean, is it just kind of a given? We struggled with that, even in our all hands where we've got thirty five people, and certainly there's there's good reason to be off camera or to mute, but as much as possible we we try to get people to show up as much as possible. Right, you got video, why not use it? Such a big difference. So those are kind of some of the the house rules. You've got a few more here that have to do with playing well with others and as I looked at these, I thought, wow, these are these would be great family rules to I mean rules to for a marriage to live by or for a family to live by. So tell us a little bit more about that. So what we notice, obviously, when you're using EOS terms like politicking or not solving the true issue or the symptom what we say is we are going to be kind and respectful to everybody in the room, and so that means we are going to only attack the issue, never the person. Instead of saying we like that Royal, we we always, we say I I feel I think we avoid these shutdown phrases... never, always. We only do this. We find that it just leads to so much more productive conversation and less arguing about the words that you're choosing to use, and it really gets to the issue faster. Yeah, that's good. You said Royal. We tell explain that to me. We feel that this decision was is best, and we actually stop if we ever hear we wease time out and say who's we? WHO said it? Or some people have suggested or some people have told me, we actually always say the name if it's to really to keep the conversation going and to get to the root of it. Yeah, that's really good. It's a red flag for me whenever somebody says to me, well, I'm not the only one that feels this, whom I'm like, okay, how about you speak for yourself here and then help me understand how I can talk to others who feel the same way. I think people a lot of the Times think that that carries. I think they often use it because they think it emphasizes their point or strengthens the point that they're trying to make at the time. One of the house rules, Nicole, is let's have fun. Do you really have fun at your quarterly planning meetings and how do you do that? Absolutely, having fun is actually part of our two thousand and twenty five target. It's as a company we want to continue to have fun. So it can't it can't just be at the team. It has to be at leadership as a start there. So I do stilly. Actually, I have this huge gift from parks and recreation. It's a meme saying, oh my gosh, guys, it's Planning Day and we have music and you know, we bring a lot of laughter into it because it's a full day session. And and every time I hear people say it did. It was eight hours but it felt like three because we were truly engaging with each other. Oh, I so agree with that. I'm trying to think of how long ours is usually eight or nine hours. What time do you start your meeting? It really eight. So we ate two, four, eight to four. Take a lunch break when you're together. Do you go out for lunch? Do you bring lunch in? We usually do working lunch. Obviously, with the remote environment we do like the Venmo for like a door, but so we do do a working lunch and then in person we order in Nice. Always interesting to me to see logistically how people set set up the the meeting as well. So those are some some house rules. That's the second age. The third one is health. Let's talk about that. This is huge and I know there are some. Often not all teams do team health exercises every single quarter. We have decided to do it every quarter. Every single quarter we talk about the JOHARY window, about bringing things from that are hidden or a blind spot and bringing it out to the open. We review the five dysfunctions of a leadership team by Patrick Lyncy. Only we go through the visual and what each step, you, each level of that triangle, means to us as a business. Annually we set one things with each other's the one thing that we're going to start, stop or continue doing, and we revisit it every quarter. But each quarter I actually have a growing library of trust builders where we just share about our histories or what brings us joy or what we're proud of or what we're not so proud of. So every quarter I bring a... exercise in so that we continue to share with each other, and that's especially great when you bring new leaders into the organization as well and they can't just jump into that annual one thing very nice. At the start of the show you you mentioned seven years. Have you been doing this, the integrator role, and and us? Have you been using us? Seven years? Yeah, I laugh. I say seven years ago we self implemented and self imploded and then about six years ago we got an implementer. So I say six years, but technically seven. Yeah. Well, I think that's a record for the people that I've had on the show so far. That's that's a big commitment to an operating system and massive for the girls in our company and just the overall team health. I feel that same way. We've only been a year but we have learned and grown so much, and not only that, but we have been so much more productive this last year then really we ever have before. So seven years. You self implemented initially, then hired it an implement or. It sounds like though today you're running those quarterly meetings. Is that right? For as much as I want my implementary he says you have graduated, you can do this. Oh yes, we have. We've been self implement or self running for the last three years. Well, you sound very qualified. You could probably be an implementer and help others. You'll do that sometime down the road in the future. Still the health of the team. I like this. This is interesting to me because we don't actually do an exercise like that. I think that would be a really nice thing to bring to our team. We have a very, I think, a very open, very candid relationship amongst our leadership team, but I like the idea of bringing something fresh and new every quarter. What's been the best thing that you've done so this last quarter actually was great, and it we came up with it on the spot. I had a rough idea what I wanted, but it transformed. It was what did you what is your greatest contribution to your role on this leadership team and what brings you the most anxiety or are you afraid of, and then how can this team help you? So we went around the room and we just shared what has brought us a where do we find our superpowers? are where we're scared that we're letting people down, and then how we like almost permission for accountability. So it was a super powerful exercise. HMM, that's great. Well, we're going to have to talk further and I'M gonna have to learn some of those tricks because the opportunity to work together on a on a project or an activity like that, it takes a little bit of time, but really we're a completely remote team. So it's the one time in ninety days, four times a year that we actually have together. So I make sures to learn a little bit more about that and if others have questions or would like to hear more about what you're doing projectwise, can they contact you? I'm really this is a passion project for me and I built a lot of frameworks and models around this to help even my own peer groups. I would love I would love it. Any question right? Well, we'll get it some information from you... the end of the show and I figured you'd probably be really happy. That's one thing about us, you know, it's it's not just a system, it really is a community. Don't you agree with that a hundred percent? So number one, got some house rules. Number two, you prioritize the health of the team and number three is honesty. That you expect honesty. Yeah, so what I'm a huge fan of Berne Brown, of Kim Scott, of Mary Pat Night, and what they all have are these awesome strategies to extracting out truth. And so I have actually coined a couple terms internally that my team knows. We scale a one to care. So I asked as soon as we start to have a conversation, go scale a one too care, meaning one, I don't care at all, ten, meaning I care a whole bunch. We all rate where our personal viewpoint is, and so we can say, Hey, make this decision without me. I'm a two or I feel really strongly, and so it just really allows us to get our hearts out there a little bit. Another thing I always do is turn and learn. So everyone has a stack of paper on their desk and if I say turn and learned, they have to physically write their idea or their opinion or their number and then we all share it on the camera in person, so that that kind of dissuades that group think and really get people's true opinions out. And then another thing is for every major decision we make, I asked for two emotions, one positive and one negative. So tell me what is bringing new joy about this conversation and what's freaking you out, and then, if anything, we can extract issues for further idea. Saying but really gets true feelings out there. So it sounds to me like just what we've talked about thus far, you're really concentrating on the relationships, the quality and health of the relationships, and that that's job number one apps and it really when you walk out that quarterly planning door, you have to be such and lock set and you may disagree on something walking in and you still need disagree as you're walking out. But if you've been heard and understood, like Patrick and Sioni says, you can commit and we can hold you accountable. So that's why really leaning into that health and honesty is just pivotal when we're making these decisions as a leadership team. I so agree with that. So again, house rules, health honesty. I want to go back to a minute with what you started with and talk about homework. Now, with with our team, typically we spend some time, you know, reviewing the idss, just like we do before each weekly meeting, and then each of US prepares, and we've gotten better and better at this each quarter, but we prepared the list of potential rocks that we want to bring so that everyone can have some input. And throughout the quarter we use a sauna, by the way, as an implementing tool and all through the quarter people can go into your project and add rocks to your suggested list, to and and we do a lot of that so that by the time we get together we've got a good idea and we're not sitting down there scratching our heads trying to think of what we're going to accomplish. So that's the prep work we do. But you lable the whole section here homework. Tell me what else you... and what else we should be doing. I have to give credible credits do. I'm a part of this incredible female integrator group called female integrator mastermind or film and over. I've been a member for four years and what I've been able to see is how integrators creatively use US and flex it to the need of their company. And I have a lot of high factfinders. I have a lot of people that really need to time to think through it. And so actually Cathy Mayfield attraction tools, totally inspired me. She she made this incredible check in sheet and so instead of just saying what's working what's not working, there's prompts like what's working in the team, in the leadership team, in your department, and then like for like a what's not working? What's an elephant in the room we're not talking about? What's a people movie we can make? So it's all of these promps to just get you thinking and that helps guide the clarity breaks prior to it. You're not just thinking these big ideas of what's working and what's not. It's really laser focused and then from there we just get great IDs or issues, list items. Tell me a little bit about your team. I'm kind of picturing how this, how this works for you. We have currently five folks on our leadership team. What about you? How many do you have and what's the composition of that group? Yeah, so we're actually in the works of reshuffling the leadership team as we're growing and scaling. So we're actually and right in the middle of working through an accountability chart for the last four years though it's been visionary integrator and and we serve. The visionary serves as a sales and marketing and I serve in an admin capacity and then client service manager. So there's a five client service managers. So it is a bigger room. And so why? Why this is so great as it's not bunch of Tangents, it's them really focused and prepared and you can tell the people that have really thought through some of this prep work and it moves that segue along much faster as we do it more people at this seat. Yeah, yeah, I'm curious to know, as an integrator, especially because you've been at this quite quite some time, what's been, if you can recall, what's been your biggest challenge as an integrator, as a leader, a couple years ago to leadership, team members left within three weeks from each other and that was this huge eye opener. Oh Man, what am I doing wrong? What are we doing wrong? How can we get through this? And we realized it. You know, it was it was a chapter of our company that now, looking back, was a really promising one. So we were able to bring that next level up into that decision making and make sure that those messages were being cascaded. So I think, and which is now, and now that we're looking at reevaluating the leadership team, all those people feel very informed and in the know and a part of the future of the company and I think it goes right back to that honesty and directness and bringing those people in. What are you most proud of over the last few years? But what maybe, could you point to as a single I'm sure you've accomplished a lot, but anything that stands out, I would say a commit so we actually say are now up to almost fifty people. We just hired our forty nine person. Wow, congrats. Yeah, super exciting and our vision Mary shared he found a stat that only five percent of digital marketing agencies actually exceed fifty people,...

...and so that's just so exciting. And one of the things we always commit to a hundred percent of the people in the company is the expectations will be incredibly clear and the feedback you get will be incredibly kind. So we come from this place of clearing kind of radically. Got To go back for me on that. Those are so good. Say the say those again for me. Incredibly the expectations will be incredibly clear and the feedback will be incredibly kind. I love that, Nicole, and that's something that our managers and that we all hold each other accountable for. That radical candor. If anyone read reverd Kim Scott, that radical candor showing that you care personally but can challenge directly, and that really I think we've been able to keep alive in the Organization of their how big we're getting. You sound like a reader. You've mentioned you've mentioned a few authors I'm familiar with and, of course, a few books. Have you happened to have read no rules, rules by read Hastings? Oh, it is the book I'm recommending. Our entire leadership team has read it. Read founded cofounded Netflix and they did some pretty radical things early on and then have have just created a dynamic with their team that is something new, something fresh, and so we're looking at that and determining, especially for next year, for two thousand and twenty two, how we can take some of those concepts and and marry that up with what we're doing with EOS. So I mentioned a sauna earlier. The way that we put this all together is that our platform is a sauna project management system. I recommend it highly, especially because it just works really well with Eos. I know there are other tools out there and eos is doing a better and better job at providing those, but if y'all haven't considered a sauna as an option and you're looking to do something different, a sauna as a platform is worked really well for us. Then Eos as the operating system, and now no rules rules. Is kind of a layer in there that goes even above and beyond the operating system and there are some some foundational concepts that that were embracing. I've talked about it on the show quite a bit. In fact, two episodes ago I did an entire show on that book. So if listeners haven't heard that one, it's it's an interesting episode. So that's a book, Nicole, that I would definitely recommend. Thank you for that. And it really the beauty this is eos is loose it, you can bet US pure, but still make it your own with some of these other like how are you going to how are you going to show up as an organization and how are you going to infuse it within the team, and I think that's really powerful. Yeah, I agree. Well, this has been so good, Nicole. These for homework, house rules, health and honesty. Man, those are excellent guides for having a healthy and productive team. Thank you so...

...much for sharing that. Thank you so much for having me. We've talked about a lot of things and I'd be remissed if I didn't ask what did we miss? Is there anything that we didn't get a chance to talk about today that you'd like to share with the audience? I think it's really driving home that you can have crystal clear expectations and hold accountability while still being kind and and still caring about each other when it comes to having really effective quarterly planning meetings. But even into the weekly meet weekly all tend the daily or the weekly one on ones, you still can. You can have both. You can be clear and kind, and I think that's really what I hope that our listeners take from this today. Yeah, well, that's great. Thank you so much for your time today. If someone would want to reach out get ahold of you, how would they do that? Nicole? Yeah, you can find me on Linkedin, Nicole menicky. I work with rocket clicks digital market agency in southeastern Wisconsin. So I find me and I would love to talk more. All right, great, thanks so much for being on the show. Thanks Bill. You've been listening to the COEO show, the home for operations professionals. Stay connected with the PODCAST and catch every episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast player. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate and review the show. Thank you for listening. Until next time,.

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