Automate This Episode #06: Running effective AP meetings

AP Automation Automate This Podcast Goby News
  • January 31, 2020
  • Chris Ogletree
Automate This Episode #06: Running effective AP meetings

Automate This #05: Empathy for AP, part two

Sometimes staff meetings can feel like they’re a waste of time. Running an interesting, effective meeting is a skill and an art. Join Helee Lev and Ryan Nelson as they discuss running effective AP staff meetings. They provide tips on how to get through them and tricks on how to make them memorable and actionable.

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Read the podcast transcript:

HELEE: Hello and welcome to Automate This; the podcast for conversations about accounts payable and beyond. Welcome to today’s episode, episode six where we are going to talk about “Running Effective AP Staff Meetings.” Tips and tricks for how to get through them and make them memorable and effective. I’m Helee Lev, Chief Revenue Officer at Goby.

RYAN: And I’m Ryan Nelson, Chief Operating Officer. Happy New Year, Helee.

HELEE: Oh, thanks. Happy New Year to you too.

RYAN: Yeah. I think this is the first recording of the year for the two of us anyway or maybe for Goby at all.

HELEE: Unless there are like other podcasts happening that I’m not affiliated with.

RYAN: I don’t really think there are.

HELEE: Fairly certain as the cohost, that wouldn’t happen.

RYAN: Are you offended that I said Happy New Year on January 28th? When does that kind of, there’s a whole curb your enthusiasm on this by the way, but is it too late?

HELEE: No. I don’t know.

RYAN: I wasn’t sure about that.

HELEE: I’m good like through the month of January. Like Feb. 1, I’d start to get perturbed a little bit.

RYAN: That’s the hard…

HELEE: Yeah. It’s just a general sentiment like it’s a new year, January, but yeah cut that off. Like you’ve got until Friday.

RYAN: Friday’s the hard cutoff…

HELEE: Yeah.

RYAN: Of like no Happy New Year?

HELEE: Yeah. So like…

RYAN: Sounds good.

HELEE: By Saturday, don’t be wishing people Happy New Year.

RYAN: That seems fair. I get it. I’ll agree to that. Okay. So we are going to talk about running an accounts payable meeting. What’s exciting about this is I think we’re going to cover the AP Part. My thought here, and you can of course opine, I’m excited to hear. You know I have a strong feeling, and I think you do too, about meetings and how to run them and how many there should be and all that sort of thing. But we’ll talk about the AP part for a few minutes, but I think it’s going to be, my idea is it will be a little more general than that. I want to talk about the push and the pull. I’ve read up on all these articles and all the right things to do, but I don’t agree with a lot of them. I have very strong feelings about how to do this. So there are some things that you do that are effective, but then that pulls against creativity or you know this or that. So I want to talk about it that way.

HELEE: Do you think it’s like a general meeting etiquette overall or it’s specific to accounts payable staff meetings?

RYAN: I think it’s general and everything I read was kind of the same boat, but let’s talk about accounts payable for a minute and then you’re going to have some metric driven component. Perhaps you’re going to talk about success or how you’re doing. You’re going to talk, maybe over the course of a year, about your cost to process a single invoice, the time to process a single invoice, the approvers within your organization, who are the offenders, how do you work with them, open items, number of invoices processed per day, percentage connected to a purchase order completed successfully, straight through processing, exception number. You’ll probably have some metric dashboard, right? And that’s your AP stuff and you’re going to go through it to see if you’re clipping towards your goals for the year, driving costs down a little bit perhaps and driving productivity up.

HELEE: Sure.

RYAN: So I think those are your metrics. So I think that most AP professionals probably have their arms around a lot of that and they’re doing it. So let’s talk about meetings. Okay? After all that. So I’m going to go with a push and pull here. So what would you say is the opposite end of your time? So I’m going to invite you to a meeting, but you’re going to say, “Well, is it important that I be there because you know I’m busy. Do I have to be? Is this important?” or whatever. And I might say, “No, it’s not important. You don’t have to be there,” but what’s kind of the opposite end of that then? What might you later be like you know? “Oh, I wish I was at that meeting.”

HELEE: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fair. I mean so as someone who attends a lot of meetings personally, it’s one of my goals. I think you could still talk about new year’s resolutions because we’re technically safely still in January to be okay saying “no” to some things you know. So that’s tough, you want to be in the room, you want to be part of the conversation. There’s definitely a FOMO of like you might’ve missed something that came up.

RYAN: That’s what I wrote down was FOMO.

HELEE: Yeah. Yeah. Totally, right? Because…

RYAN: Someone was like, “Well, I didn’t know that that was what we were doing now.” Well, you weren’t at that meeting because I thought it would be more efficient…”

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: “You didn’t want to be there, but it would be nice if you knew about it.” Yeah.

HELEE: So me personally, right? Like I prefer to be invited like please invite me. I might reply tentative and if say something more pressing comes up like a customer facing meeting, I might not attend, but I like to always have the option, you know? And if something comes up in the moment, it could be a game time decision if I know I’m not essential to the critical path of the meeting, but if there’s nothing else, I might want to sit in, you know? Well, let me ask you this okay? In that same kind of vein, so what if you have someone that accepts the meeting because they have the FOMO, no one in particular, not referring to anyone that I know or anything…

RYAN: Sure.

HELEE: So they attend the meeting, it’s an hour long meeting. They know that they’re kind of peripheral to it, but want to be part of the conversation, again enter the FOMO, but it’s an hour of their time. They’re going to bring the computer and maybe try to get some other things done and pipe up and listen when the attendees spark certain keywords, but also try to get some other stuff done. Is that, and I think I know, I know you well enough to know your answer to this, but is that better or worse than having just declined the meeting?

RYAN: Well again, I’ll go with the push and pull. So I think we kind of covered the first one there. There’s people that want to know things so they want to be there so there’s the FOMO versus the fact that it takes your time. And now, the note I have here that you’re getting to is kind of the technology versus not having technology? And there’s a lot that you’ll read about about do not bring computers, lasso the cellphones, don’t do that, collaborate at the meeting, right? Which I get, but yes what about allowing someone to listen in? So I’d like you at the meeting because I do believe you can listen and you’ll get something out of it. But I don’t want you to use your whole time either so you go ahead and bring your laptop and you know multitask, whatever it is. So I’m okay with that.

HELEE: But does that have to be like a cover all? Like I went to one meeting one time where it was like a workshop, you might’ve been there, where everyone just put their phone in the middle. We’re like all right computers for sure not and if you have a phone, put it in the middle of the table. And I think that it was, to the best of my recollection, it was a really useful and productive meeting. So my question is if you know I’m coming in to listen and multitask, but then do you tell other folks that are critical to the meeting, “Hey, you can’t use your phone or computer, but certain other people who are here to listen can.” Or like how do you even…

RYAN: Yes…

HELEE: Police that situation?

RYAN: That’s exactly what I would do.

HELEE: Ah, okay.

RYAN: And I think that’s a nuance that as an owner of a meeting, that is no big deal. It’s nice and easy. The four of us are here to collaborate. We’re going to do a no tech collaboration. I invited two other people optionally…

HELEE: I was going to ask you about that.

RYAN: Because I…

HELEE: Do you put them optional on the meeting invites so you know that?

RYAN: Perhaps. Or maybe I want you there because I want you to be aware and know of this collaboration, but you don’t need to participate in the whole thing. So have your computer and multitask, that’s okay. So I think you very specifically can do that. You can have a no technology meeting, you can have different participants in the meeting that are there for different purposes and allow someone to have their technology. That’s how I’d run it and I think it works.

HELEE: Well, if you do it then it must work. You’re like best practice.

RYAN: I do. I have studied this a little bit and looked at it. I have a little, yeah. So I’ve been around the block, if you will, as far as that goes. And then you get into the similar vein which I
think I’m definitely over, people taking notes in notebooks versus on a computer.

HELEE: Ugh! I had this happen the other day. I almost lost my mind, but it was with someone that I like so I didn’t say anything about it.

RYAN: So you…

HELEE: We were talking about something that had happened. We wee referencing a meeting that happened and this person said, “Ah, I don’t know offhand because it’s in my notebook and I don’t have my notebook here with me today.” And I was like, “What about our robust tools that enable you to access your notes from anywhere and everywhere because they’re in the cloud? Or if you weren’t here today where I could access your notes?” So I think generally speaking you know we do a good job of that, but God I have a hard time with pens and notebooks and things not being cloud-based and even just typing is so much faster than handwriting.

RYAN: Yeah.

HELEE: I just, I can’t even. If it’s me…

RYAN: So I’m with you on that. Yeah.

HELEE: Like no notebooks.

RYAN: I can’t…

HELEE: I’m done with it.

RYAN: Do it anymore. So but see again all this push and the pull where like I don’t want people being distracted. There’s the whole thing which I agree with you know in all these articles is people say they’re taking, everyone’s in there taking notes. Oh really?

HELEE: Yeah right.

RYAN: All of you…

HELEE: Yeah, totally.

RYAN: Are taking notes? Like no, it’s not happening.

HELEE: No, they’re not.

RYAN: So what are you doing?

HELEE: They’re messaging about like your shirt that’s funny or something.

RYAN: Yes. And we have these things constantly popping up you know you’re tabbing real quick. “Oh yeah, I just checked it real quick” you know. I mean it can’t really happen. So you have someone who’s in charge of meeting minutes or taking the takes. Or however formal or informal you want to do it, you can have a no technology meeting, but for this person who is going to document the important aspects and action items for the meeting. I think you just have to manage…

HELEE: Yeah.

RYAN: Those nuances, but…

HELEE: I think you have to set the ground rules and be consistent with it too. So like if you have a standing meeting say and you’ve made it clear that that’s a no technology meeting and then you kind of let certain someone use their computer and that person picks up their phone and all of that. You know you have to be firm about what the lay of the land is and how you’re going to enforce it.

RYAN: Yeah, but I think we agree with the notebooks. It’s just too inefficient. And then of course, well I really learn when I write it down once and then I type it in later. Okay yeah, but 20% of the time you never type it in later. We’ve got the clouds, we’ve got the great tools, we need to be able to reference the meeting minutes. They can’t live in your notebooks.

HELEE: Yeah. The only other thing I think about too is like so if you use the amount of phone picking up as a barometer of how effective your meeting is or how engaged people are or how much they need to be there. Because think about that for a sec, right? If you are having a meeting or running a meeting where the conversation is applicable and people are learning, they want to be engaged, they probably won’t pick up their phones. They start to pick up their phones and do other stuff because maybe it doesn’t pertain to them. So in the example of you know say a sales meeting, the format we used to do is kind of go around the room and everyone talks about the deals they’re working on. Well, maybe there are some helpful components of that through osmosis of hearing what your peers are working on, but a lot of it was just like I’ll say my piece and then I’ll just zone out and do other stuff while the other person says their piece. So what that said to me was don’t ban people from using their phones, but maybe switch up the way you’re doing the meetings so that people are paying attention the whole time because this format is not working.

RYAN: Agreed. Yes, be more interesting.

HELEE: Yeah, totally. Do you struggle with that? Or you feel like you’re pretty interesting in meetings?

RYAN: Typically the latter for sure, but it’s back to the thing that not everything is relevant for everyone, but that it’s important that some people have awareness of what’s happening. So we can talk in a minute about you know what’s the purpose of the meeting and what’s the purpose of an individual being there because a lot can be consumed through osmosis. And people want to have some insight to the phases of your ten projects, but I don’t want to sit there and listen to the detailed status of all ten of your projects or whatever, but sometimes people need to be in the room. But let’s talk about timing for a minute. There were some interesting discussions. Supposedly one of the things I read, the studies show the perfect timing is 90 minutes for a recurring weekly meeting.

HELEE: Oh wow!

RYAN: That struck me as long.

HELEE: Yeah.

RYAN: But part of that was the meeting should be productive and collaborative. It shouldn’t just be rattling off statuses and just a meeting that’s just there every week for the purpose of it. Something productive should happen at the meeting and you can’t really accomplish something in 30 minutes then you’re just kind of that, I don’t know. So it was an hour and a half.

HELEE: Ooohh I don’t know, yeah. I think it totally depends on the kind of meeting. I kind of in my head will default to 30 minutes and be like, “Can this be accomplished in 30 minutes?” Is the other 30 minutes just going to be filled with superfluous small talk and repetitiveness and things that don’t need to happen? Or does it really need to be the full hour, you know? So never 90 minutes.

RYAN: Are those your two…

HELEE: Never mind.

RYAN: Are those your two options? Thirty minutes and 60 minutes?

HELEE: No. Apparently 90 minutes is the meeting of choice according to your research.

RYAN: Or do you know what else is an option?

HELEE: Fifteen?

RYAN: Seven…

HELEE: Oh yeah.

RYAN: Eleven…

HELEE: Yeah, but when people do stuff like that…

RYAN: Forty…

HELEE: Like set meetings that start at 2:07 and end at 2:14, that tends to…

RYAN: It’s actually a brilliant strategy.

HELEE: It’s kind of annoying. It’s a little bit annoying.

RYAN: And I think exactness or precision is quite useful. And I highly recommend utilizing a ten-minute meeting or a twenty-minute meeting or whatever it is. And a lot of those you know that’s what they are. Like we want to get together, it will take five to ten minutes, but people will book the 30 minute bucket because it’s the default. And you’ve taken up a conference room, you’ve done that and the person, they didn’t maybe plan something else mentally because they think they have this 30 minutes blocked off and you literally wanted to gather for eight or ten minutes…

HELEE: So…

RYAN: To touch base.

HELEE: How do you handle this? Because I’ve seen you do this, okay? I’ve seen you set the nine-minute meeting that starts at 2:07 and all that, but you know…

RYAN: I do that for fun. I do more the…

HELEE: It has happened…

RYAN: Ten and 20 minutes.

HELEE: It has happened.

RYAN: Yeah.

HELEE: All right, but riddle me this, okay? So you set that meeting for 2:07. Half the people at 2:07 are not in there because they thought it was 2:10 or thought it was 2:00 or they’re like 2:07, ha! I’m going to go to the bathroom and get a water on my way. So what do you do? Do you start 2:07 sharp or do you kind of wait for those people to straggle in because you kind of need them there and then your seven-minute meeting doesn’t really work because people are six minutes late?

RYAN: Yeah. That’s an important question again on precision and exactness. And there’s a push and a pull on that I wanted to talk about. So let’s bring it back to kind of the AP recurring staff meeting and maybe it’s 30 minutes per week let’s say and it starts on the hour. Somebody most likely has a meeting that goes up to the previous hour, right?

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: So one of your meetings goes from 1:00 to 2:00 and the other meeting starts at 2:00.

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: So you can’t really possibly be on time if someone uses the full half hour or hour of the previous meeting.

HELEE: And if you’re super human and don’t need to eat, go to the bathroom, get a drink…

RYAN: Correct, yes.

HELEE: That’s usually where I run into trouble.

RYAN: So it’s tough. So that exactness, to your point, if I set a meeting at 2:07 because I’m being cute and challenging precision and making an efficient meeting, a lot what I’m doing with like a 2:05 meeting is allotting for that five minutes and I’m giving people the…

HELEE: Ah, you’re being considerate.

RYAN: Time to wrap up their other one.

HELEE: It’s consideration.

RYAN: And then suggesting that we actually started on time because you’ve got the five minutes to get there or whatever it is. So there’s that push and the pull of that precision of at 2 o’ clock we start. And a lot of what we read here was you shut the door. People can come in late, but the meeting’s beginning, you shut the door. Another thing we read said everyone should be in their seats five minutes before the meeting and you start on time.

HELEE: At what organization does that happen?

RYAN: I mean in one organization that it’s unheard of and that means they’re going to have to leave their previous meeting early probably. So I don’t think that’s a reality.

HELEE: So on the flipside of that, you’ve talked about like starting a little late. I will set some that are 50 minutes like 5 0 to leave that extra ten minutes at the end because 50 minutes to an hour, that is essentially the same thing. And then that gives people that ten-minute buffer to do what they need to do between meetings.

RYAN: Yeah. I agree. That’s why I would be more precise like let’s not fall in these buckets of 30 minutes. If you think you need 35 you know 30 like ah we probably won’t wrap up in time. Add another ten minutes. Don’t add a whole other 30 minutes just because you needed 40.

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: And I 100% believe in finishing on time which is kind of an art…

HELEE: It is.

RYAN: And not a lot of people, in my opinion, have that art or do it. And I think that’s the biggest problem because then everyone’s late for their next meeting. People are hovering outside the conference room…

HELEE: Hovering outside the room.

RYAN: Hoping to get into their meeting.

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: Like you have to start thinking like eight minutes before the meeting’s over, you have to start doing a little direction.

HELEE: Yeah.

RYAN: And start saying…

HELEE: Wind it down.

RYAN: You know we were here to accomplish this, I think we don’t quite have it yet. Don’t want to take more time than we asked for. You have to start doing that and you really have to start doing it early. I just think that’s the right thing to do, but it’s kind of an art to navigate it properly and stuff.

HELEE: See, a lot of these things, I mean like you’re saying it’s etiquette. It’s manners. And I think a lot of it does tie back to the individual you know and their personality. If they’re a tidy person, if they’re a punctual person, if they’re the kind of person that thinks their time’s more valuable than other people’s time or don’t care that they’re usurping a room. So maybe, I don’t know. Not to get all deep with it, but maybe it’s an indication of who someone is as a person, how they run a meeting.

RYAN: It could be, certainly you know leadership skills. If you can properly start a meeting, engage people, accomplish the purpose that you set the meeting for, finish on time and you know that is probably an indicator of some leadership skills there if you can do all of those things. I would suggest for sure.

HELEE: Cool.

RYAN: Yeah. So again, I think we’re not offering answers. It would probably tie back to your business culture and then even that individual’s you know idea how you want to run things. Whether you want tech there or don’t want tech there, whether you want everyone 100% dedicated or multitasking. All those sort of things, it can be personal, there are pushes and pulls. You tell people you know just get here when you can get here, walk in and participate you know. I think all that’s theoretically okay. The last minute meeting, I think happens way, way, way too often. I really, really try and minimize it. Like if you’re like you have an idea, and then you’re like, “Ooohh, I should get these three people in the room” and you set it for that same day, I think that’s 100% inappropriate. Like if you’re setting a meeting in the same day, it should be emergency. Like someone starts to plan out their day and then you go, “Well, you had an open spot so I took your open spot.”

HELEE: Oh really? See I’m not as personally offended by that.

RYAN: Well…

HELEE: But I’m definitely like a more spontaneous individual than you.

RYAN: I don’t know if I’d agree with that. But I planned out my day and like let’s say you dedicated time to prepare for this podcast. And then you’re going to say well someone booked a bunch of meetings so I couldn’t prepare. And like oh they booked a bunch of last minute you know like I was going to do it this one hour, but then that fills up all your time.

HELEE: Oh, but then I would’ve blacked it. You black that hour if you had time allotted to do something else.

RYAN: Then how do you allow for an emergency meeting?

HELEE: If it’s open space, I say it’s up for grabs. That’s the whole point of sharing your calendar and letting it be open. If you have something else to during that time whether it’s personal, whether it’s lunch, whether it’s prepping for your podcast in advance like everyone does obviously then you black that out.

RYAN: Well, I’m going to disagree with you on that one. You don’t schedule last minute meetings. Like if I need to accomplish something, I’ll put it a couple days out. I let people prepare, I let people go about the day that they had planned which is in line with a lot of the great blogs I read is minimize…

HELEE: Well, what constitutes an emergency…

RYAN: Those last minute meetings.

HELEE: Would you say? Because things do come up…

RYAN: I’ll tell you what’s not an emergency…

HELEE: They’re time-sensitive.

RYAN: Is I have something I want to talk about. I want to check it off my box so I need to have the meeting today. The emergency is I don’t know whatever the emergency is, like there’s a blizzard coming in. We need to talk about how to get everyone home safely or something like that. You know what I mean?

HELEE: No, no. I know what you mean. Like time-sensitive things like we have to run payroll tomorrow or we have an issue we have to resolve today kind of thing.

RYAN: Yeah.

HELEE: I get that.

RYAN: Yeah.

HELEE: I do.

RYAN: Whereas I had a great thought. These are the three people I need to engage. How does the end of the week look for everybody? Or maybe they have some time and they can get through the next couple days.

HELEE: Yeah. That’s fair. I’m just not as personally offended by it. So for all the listeners out there, feel free to put a last minute meeting on my calendar….

RYAN: Please do.

HELEE: If that slot’s open and I will try my best to show up on time, collaborate, close my technology, take notes not by hand and end on time.

RYAN: What about cleanliness? How will you enter and leave the room?

HELEE: Ooohh. All right. I know this is a hot button for you. If you want to anger Ryan Nelson, if you want to anger him, leave your notes up on the whiteboard from your last meeting. Don’t erase them if you just want to push his buttons.

RYAN: I think you’ve got work to do on your culture if people come into a meeting, dirty the whiteboard, pull out all the chairs, leave an empty cup and a fork on the table…

HELEE: Yeah, that’s bad. That’s bad.

RYAN: And walk out like that and think something is going to happen. And you’ve got colleagues right behind you coming in right after and the first thing they get to do is clean off your whiteboard, clean up your trash, wrangle all the chairs. Like I think you have a…

HELEE: But do you think is the fork on the table an equal offense to the pen on the whiteboard because I’m like those are different levels of offensiveness for me.

RYAN: I think that they’re similar. I think the concept that I think most companies should try and instill in their culture or individuals in themselves is to leave a space better than you left it.

HELEE: That’s deep.

RYAN: As good as you left it is one thing. I agree. Like footprint anywhere…

HELEE: How do you leave it better? How do you leave a conference room better? Like what are your ideas on that?

RYAN: That’s what’s really fun and we kind of have that culture around here. And it has been fun because with a couple people…

HELEE: Like you push in the chair a little more?

RYAN: Yeah. You organize it a little straighter.

HELEE: Than it was pushed in?

RYAN: We get to the point where I was talking with Gustavo and he’s like, “Do better. Like look how I left this room. It’s amazing.” And I said, “I’m a leave a couple dollars on the table.” Like at some point, that’s the fun part. It’s like wow, you came in here, you left, it’s in a wonderful status for the next team to come in. There’s nothing else I can do to improve it, here’s five bucks sitting on the table to make it better.

HELEE: Did someone take your five bucks?

RYAN: I didn’t do it because I don’t really carry cash.

HELEE: Oh. So this is like more theoretical.

RYAN: It’s 2020. It was a theoretical discussion, yes.

HELEE: All right. Got it.

RYAN: Plus the room wasn’t that perfect. There was something I was able to do. And then I think to kind of start of wrap this as we say, doing things timely…

HELEE: Yeah, let’s.

RYAN: One way I like to think when I was thinking about this and the concept of recurring meetings and then ad hoc meetings and there’s a lot of debate about is the meeting valuable? Should we have so many executives spend 75% of their time in meetings and the rest of the company overall spends about 30% of their time in meetings? Is that bad? Is it good? You’re supposed to do an analysis on how much does that cost you, but then you have to do an analysis on how much value you’re getting out.

HELEE: Yeah, totally.

RYAN: So it costs you x amount of hours, but you should be getting some value out of it. Sure you’re collaborating, you’re getting things done, people are learning from each other and all that. So I don’t know. That’s a tough one, but I thought the way to connect it was is this meeting part of the journey of what you’re trying to accomplish. So there should be a common thread which brings me to tools. Like we love Asana or whatever the tool is and the notes in the cloud. So this meeting is not just one little thing. It’s meeting for the sake of meting, it was part of a project or it was part of recurring performance for a quarter or a year or it’s connected to something. So if you have this thread of the times that you got together and you have notes and status and it’s telling us this whole story of how you’re trying to accomplish a goal. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but then it kind of makes sense.

HELEE: No, no. I see what they’re saying.

RYAN: And maybe you could miss one and that’s not the end of the world. You can be late to one, but if this story that you’re on of completing this project over five months is happening and meetings are part of it then great.

HELEE: No. I like that. The other thing too you talked about the beginning with regards to in AP status meetings if you have like a dashboard or metrics, you have a tool that helps you keep track of these things, it’s just like consistency is king. So if there’s a metric you’re looking at and you have a recurring meeting like don’t do them out of order. Don’t skip them sometimes. Don’t have some weeks where you review the metrics and then other weeks where you don’t review the metrics. Because if you’re going to make metrics like a key part of a meeting and a key part of a journey to your point of a meeting that builds up on itself, you’ve got to consistently have those front of mind.

And so again, I’m thinking you know personally again in the context of sales meetings, you’re looking at certain indicators or performance or numbers or revenues or KPIs. If you review those you know every three times, but not every time or you look at different ones one week than you do to the next week, it’s not a meaningful story to your point. It’s not something that builds upon itself. It’s not something where the meeting attendees can see the progress each week. So as the meeting owner, consistency I think is king with that kind of thing if you’re going to tie the metrics and if you have great tools like AP automation tools that will give you that dashboard where it makes it really easy. You just open up your dashboard every week and you see you know is it better or worse than last week, what are we looking at kind of thing. But yeah, good tools help you stay consistent with regards to metrics-related meeting.

RYAN: How often or in what circumstance would you recommend an icebreaker?

HELEE: Oh man! I don’t know. You can always have an icebreaker. I guess if it’s the same group meeting every week, it would be kind of awkward. You would be like, “Ah alas! Here we are again with the same people in the same seats around the dinner table. Yet, let’s learn something new about each other,” but every now and again is fun.

RYAN: I agree with you first comment thought that you could always have an icebreaker.

HELEE: Yeah. Always?

RYAN: Almost. I mean I don’t think it would be an issue or a waste of time. I would support like every time.

HELEE: Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be a formal like, “I’m going to ask you a question this time.”

RYAN: Real quick.

HELEE: It could just be like…

RYAN: Yeah.

HELEE: “How was your weekend?” or “Oh, you were on a trip?” And then you know I find someone who was on a trip, awesome and then everybody else has like some commentary about where they went or whatever.

RYAN: Sure.

HELEE: Like, but yeah.

RYAN: You don’t want chatter for like eight minutes of a 30-minute meeting.

HELEE: Nah, not eight minutes.

RYAN: But if structured, I like to think of it as levity; bring levity to the meeting. You know one time we did silence for 30 seconds because I read about that somewhere where…

HELEE: Nike! I think you said does that.

RYAN: Yeah, somebody.

HELEE: Yeah. Yeah.

RYAN: So you come running from another meeting and that’s still on your mind. It’s like pause for 30 seconds before we get into this or levity to the whole concept. Like we’re all stressed, we’re trying to do something, we’re trying to accomplish something, we’re moving quickly, but let’s just do something silly and connect as humans or remember that none of it’s that important at the end of the day.

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: So it’s bring that levity for 60 seconds, 120 seconds, you know?

HELEE: Totally.

RYAN: Whatever it is.

HELEE: Time well spent.

RYAN: Yeah, I think so. So to me, an icebreaker could be almost every meeting. Recurring you know…

HELEE: SOP.

RYAN: Whether you know the group or not, I think it could be part of your recipe. And again, it could be 60 seconds. Like this is what we’re going to do for 30, 45, 60 seconds and then we’re going to dive into our usual agenda or you know what we’re going to accomplish today.

HELEE: Yeah.

RYAN: You want to put a bow on all of that or…

HELEE: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean I think it’s nuance to the organization, it’s nuance to the type of meeting, the function. I think for me, even what we discussed today, it just comes down to etiquette. A lot of it is just etiquette of like people’s time, who should be there, who shouldn’t be there, showing up, cleaning up, things like that and then just knowing about your own organization. And one of the most fun things I find so every time we get someone new here you know new to Goby. So I have been here almost eight years. It’s kind of hard. At this point, I’m immersed and this is all I know, right? It’s distant memories of what was before. But you get someone new and you’ll ask them, “So how’s it going?” You know and I think they often will comment on just the culture of meetings at your organization. So someone recently was like, “Whoo! Really meeting-heavy organization…”

RYAN: Right.

HELEE: “Never ends on time.” So I’m going to try to make them end on time. So I think asking an outsider you know, someone new, just get some feedback, but each organization has its own special stuff.

RYAN: Yep, totally agreed. No right or wrong. I have opinions on certain things, but yeah manage your culture and figure out a way that is productive and has etiquette and aligns with your core values and all those kinds of things and I think you can be successful.

HELEE: Ooohh you know what? There’s a great mug actually or it’s like a meme, but I’ve seen it on a mug. It’s like something like, “Ugh! Excuse me for being in a bad mood because I just had to attend another meeting that could’ve been an email.” Something like that.

RYAN: Uh-huh.

HELEE: I’ll find the meme, but it’s pretty good.

RYAN: I like it. I like it. Well, good. I don’t know. I enjoyed that conversation. I might write a blog on it.

HELEE: Yeah, but also let’s end our podcast promptly. We’re coming up like right on a nice round time if we wrap it real quick.

RYAN: And to that point, I don’t think you have to. You can be very you know specific like that. You don’t have to try and be cleaver about bringing it to a conclusion. You can say, “Oh, we have 45 seconds.”

HELEE: Oh, we’re up on time.

RYAN: Yeah. Yeah. That’s what you do. Just like we have 60 seconds left so if there’s anything else you need to do…

HELEE: All right. Well, you’ve got a minute…
RYAN: All right.

HELEE: Fifteen, Ryan if we’re…

RYAN: All right.

HELEE: Going to end this one on time.

RYAN: Yes. We can do it. We can’t. What everyone is waiting for of course is “Beans and Beer” so we can’t skip it…

HELEE: No, we can’t skip it.

RYAN: But we can end on time.

HELEE: But you can be expeditious about it.

RYAN: “Beans and Beer.”

HELEE: “Beans and Beer.”

RYAN: “Blue Bottle.”

HELEE: Beer.

RYAN: I think you’re out for three, my friend.

HELEE: Oh man.

RYAN: “Blue Bottle” it is a highly touted and I did enjoy it. It was a nice drip coffee that I had at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

HELEE: It came in a bottle?

RYAN: No, I don’t…

HELEE: Coffee in a bottle?

RYAN: Know why they call it that actually.

HELEE: That’s so misleading.

RYAN: But it’s called “Blue Bottle.”

HELEE: That’s not even my bad.

RYAN: And it was at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I had a wonderful meeting with an awesome augmented reality company over there. And we’re really excited about our time and expansion in west there with those kinds of firms, but it was a delicious coffee. A colleague, I was getting ready to leave, he was like, “Where you at?” I’m like, “Ferry Building, heading home.” He was like, “Go to the Blue Bottle.” And I went and had a really nice coffee, not beer.

HELEE: Ah, all right. Well, I’ll get the next one maybe. So anyways, thank you for attending episode six of Automate This; the podcast for conversations about accounts payable and beyond. We do appreciate you tuning in. Don’t forget that Automate This is also a cartoon #automatethis all written by Goby employees. So have a look and join us next time. We are ending promptly on time at 30 minutes even. Thank you. Thank you.

Chris Ogletree

Chris joined Goby as Inbound Marketing Coordinator in 2016, taking over generation and development of client-facing content, such as email campaigns, website administration, and marketing collateral. He has been an integral part in Goby's rebranding project and website redesign.

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