Treehouse Rules: Red Frog Events Gives the Lowdown on Time Management

Jan 17, 2014

The Red Frog Events team sports their DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award t-shirts in 2011. Photo: Ian Wagreich.

FreeEnterprise.com got to know Red Frog Events when the active entertainment company won the Chamber’s DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year award. The infectiously fun Chicago-based firm has created events including the Warrior Dash and Great Urban Race—it has also created an enviable company culture. Who wouldn’t want to work where there’s a treehouse, a fire pit (complete with s’mores supplies), and a business card deeming you “Master of Monkey Business”?

Whether you’re building a business or just want to infuse more fun in your career, Red Frog’s Lilypad Lowdown blog has great tips that we’ll be featuring regularly on FreeEnterprise.com.

Today, Mischief Manager Katelyn Boyle gives her secrets for making every minute count:

Whenever I give my mom work updates, she is amazed by how many different teams and projects we contribute to each day at Red Frog.  I think I’ve gotten the “how do you juggle it all?” question multiple times in my short 11 months with RFE.  Part of the answer to that question always has a lot to do with efficient use of time and resources, especially when it comes to team meetings.

Red Froggers typically work on four to eight teams at one time.  Balancing these workloads requires good time management, organization, and efficient team meetings.  We work at an incredibly fast pace at RFE, adapting to the ever-changing world of events, so sitting in 10+ hours of weekly team update meetings would not work for us.   In order to really accelerate our progress and keep up with the Red Frog pace, each team meeting has to be well prepped, efficiently run, and goal-oriented.

From our team to yours, here are a few of my favorite tips to increase team meeting productivity:

  1. Prepare a meeting agenda ahead of time.  Walking into a meeting without a clear picture of what needs to be covered can lead to confusion and unclear objectives.  Make sure that you have items to cover in each meeting, and write them down so as to not forget what needs to be addressed.  If you are able to send out your agenda to the team ahead of time, even better!  That way, team members can add items to the agenda if necessary, and come to the meeting prepared.  Use your agenda to clearly define the purpose of the meeting: is it to brainstorm, share team updates, or make decisions?
  1. Keep it simple, stupid (K.I.S.S.).   We all are guilty of coordinating unnecessary meetings, or setting aside an hour when we really only need 15 minutes.  But if we all plan ahead a bit, we can keep all meetings to 30 minutes or less, get to the point, and eliminate extra, unnecessary time spent in meetings.  If you don’t have any team updates, cancel your meeting!  If something can quickly be conveyed to everyone in an email without additional clarification, do that instead.
  1. Happy Crappy.  One of my team leads introduced this idea to me during my internship at RFE as a fun and quick way to catch up at the start of each meeting.  We go around the table and have each team member say one “crappy” thing about their day/week, and one “happy” thing about their day/week.  Starting meetings with a quick personal catch up is a fun and light way to get rolling into your meeting topics, and cuts down on chit-chat throughout the rest of the meeting.
  1. Listen and encourage.  As a team leader, make sure that you are always an active listener encouraging team members to express their ideas.  By doing this, great ideas can be uncovered, and your team will take better ownership of their work.
  1. Structure your meetings.  By creating a team meeting structure and sticking to it each time, the group knows what to expect and can roll through topics quickly.  I work off this structure:
  • Happy Crappy (See tip #3)
  • Recap (Last week’s topics covered, tasks assigned)
  • Introduction (Intro this week’s meeting agenda)
  • Updates / Innovation (Work through meeting agenda)
  • Recap (Recap the meeting with a quick synopsis of the topics covered, decisions made)
  • Next Steps (Assign tasks to group members and clearly lay out deadlines and expectations)
  1. Put it in writing.  Send an email recapping your meeting within 24 hours to clearly lay out what has been covered, what is on the agenda for next week, tasks assigned, individual and team expectations, and deadlines.  With this in writing, there is no confusion on what is expected in the coming week(s).

We love to have fun here at Red Frog, so make sure your meetings stay light, and your personality shines through, but a little structure can go a long way to keep your team meetings productive.  Hopefully some of these tips will make it into your weekly routine, and you can see quick results!

Katelyn Boyle, the Mischief Manager, is actively involved with Red Frog Events University Relations and Vendor Relations for Firefly Music Festival

 

Red Frog Events 2011 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Finalist Video

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