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quarterly meetings

Quarterly Meetings: A Manager's Guide to Planning & Executing

This is a definitive guide to help leaders plan and execute quarterly meetings.

If you want to:

  • Keep your team members accountable for tasks, goals, and priorities each quarter,
  • Stop scrambling and sorting through paperwork to prepare for your quarterly meeting,
  • Easily plan your next quarter with integrated data,

… then you'll love this guide. Let's get started.

What's Covered in This Guide

Click on each to jump to that section.

Ninety's Quarterly Meeting Agenda Template

Ninety's quarterly meeting template guides you through:

  • How to hold an effective quarterly planning meeting.
  • Who should be involved in quarterly planning.
  • How to create the goal of each of your quarterlies.
  • What goes into an effective quarterly plan.

You'll see quarterlies work just like other meetings in Ninety, a simple, all-in-one, cloud-based platform. You can confirm the type of meeting and choose the people you want to attend. A customizable quarterly agenda will populate your dashboard.

Once you import your data, you'll know exactly what progress you've made because all of it is accessible and integrated into your quarterly agenda.

Give it a try!

What is Quarterly Planning?

Quarterly planning is a way to develop your company's Rocks, key performance indicators (KPIs), and other metrics, critical To-Dos, as well as the objectives and the key results (OKRs) for your team. It's a strategic approach to breaking down your yearly planning into smaller parts, so it's easier to see what you've already achieved and use it to set new goals and establish performance measurements for the next quarter.

What Months are Quarterly Meetings?

Typical months for quarterly meetings are March, June, September, and December — which is the last month of each quarter.

No matter when your company's fiscal year begins, a quarter consists of three months or about 90 days. Multiplied, four quarters equal one year or 12 months. 

Quarter 1: January, February, March

Quarter 2: April, May, June

Quarter 3: July, August, September

Quarter 4: October, November, December

When should you hold a quarterly planning meeting? A quarterly meeting schedule is four times a year, either at the start or the end of each quarter.

Quarterly meetings are also sometimes called:

  • Quarterly planning
  • Quarterly business reviews, or QBRs, where teams review quarterly goals and results.
  • Quarterly board meetings, where the Board of Directors reviews quarterly financial results against a set budget.
  • Quarterly customer meetings, where teams answer client or customer questions about your products and services.

Why Quarterly Planning is So Important

Quarterly planning is a more effective way to create and track long-term goals. It gives your team structured guidance for achieving those goals faster. You can also check the progress of shorter-term objectives and individual goals to ensure everyone is on the same page.

How often you and your team decide to have meetings is called meeting cadence. By choosing the right number of meetings, such as planning four times a year, you can:

  • Break down goals into smaller chunks to review targets and benchmarks more efficiently.
  • Analyze previous challenges and achievements to decide on a better action plan.
  • Set a fresh tone to motivate your team in the next quarter.
  • Create focused time to zero in on the exact projects that need to get done.
  • Avoid the dread of attending too many meetings.
  • Feel like your time is put to good use.
  • Actually get tasks and responsibilities crossed off your list.
  • Improve overall productivity.

Quarterly Planning vs. Annual Planning

Quarterly planning focuses on goal-setting with a more urgent time frame for results. Quarterly goals can often be achieved in less time, i.e., 90 days. Teams can attend to things that need immediate attention.

Annual planning focuses on goal-setting with a longer time frame for achievement. Annual goals need more time to achieve results, i.e., one year or more. Teams use a long-term strategy to focus on larger company initiatives.

How Long Does the Quarterly Planning Process Take?

The entire quarterly planning process takes about eight hours. Most people plan for meetings to last a full day.

Here's a breakdown of a typical quarterly meeting agenda in Ninety with estimated times for completion.

  1. Initial Status Update: 30 minutes or less

This is a casual time to break the ice among attendees. Things to share:

  • Professional and personal good news from the last 90 days.
  • The greatest sources of frustration from the past 90 days.
  • Expectations for this specific quarterly meeting.
  1. Previous Quarter's Rocks and Performance Metrics: 60-minutes or less

  • Review your 90-day goals (Rocks).
  • Check your completion rate by hovering over the graph icon in the upper right of your goals section. If it's not 80%, discuss why.
  • Review performance metrics for the past 13 weeks to determine if the average is above or below the goal.
  • Turn all incomplete goals and off track metrics into Long-Term Issues by right-clicking on each goal or metric.
  • Archive both your completed and incomplete Rocks.
  1. Vision Review: 60 minutes or less

  • Going over the company Vision ensures you and your teams are on the same page and focused for the remainder of the planning process.
  • Be sure you all agree on your vision, update your plan, and create new issues for any concerns where applicable.
  1. Establish Next Quarter's Rocks: 60 minutes or less

  • Each attendee identifies the most important things for the company to get done during the next quarter.
  • List all of the topics discussed, then pair the list down to your critical list of company and individual Rocks. The list usually contains three to seven crucial goals.
  • Assign ownership to each Rock.
  1. Solve Issues: Four hours or less

  • Issues are opportunities to advance your mission and keep everyone on track to achieve all of your Rocks.
  • Discuss and solve each Issue that was added to your Long-Term Issue list during the quarterly planning process.
  • Take notes in the description section of each Issue right in the Ninety software to document each concern for the future.
  1. Next Steps: 15 minutes or less

  • Create To-Dos for the next quarter.
  • Capture any shared messages as a To-Do for a designated team member to communicate.
  1. Conclusion: 15 minutes or less

Have each attendee:

  • Discuss their overall feeling about the planning session.
  • Explain how their expectations for the day were met.
  • Rate the meeting.

The cool thing about running your quarterly meetings in Ninety? All of your data is in one place and accessible to everyone in your organization, so your team is already prepared to tackle their goals right away.

What is the Purpose of Quarterly Meetings?

  1. To review last quarter's results.

This is your chance to celebrate team achievements and give shout-outs to everyone who went the extra mile during the past quarter. It's a great motivational and team-building experience.

It's also an opportunity to discuss what you and your team learned in the last 90 days. Since your results are the foundation for next quarter's goals, it helps to analyze where you succeeded, where you came up short, and why.

  1. To check the current health of company culture.

Review your core values to discover if everyone is living up to them. Consider developing company stories around legendary behavior, enabling your values to stay influential in your organization. Evaluate where leaders and teams need to improve so they can create value and achieve desired outcomes.

  1. To keep leaders and teams sharp.

Keeping the flow of new ideas going helps grow the company. It gives you a competitive edge when team members stay informed on important industry developments, new software, and supply chain improvements that affect how you run your company.

  1. To plan the next successful quarter.

This is the most critical purpose of quarterly planning. Your next successful quarter will get you 90 days closer to achieving your annual goals. So it's a best practice to review your one- and three-year plans each quarterly meeting.  Leaders also choose one thing to focus on for the planning quarter, even if it's necessary to change the plan if challenges arise.

What Goes Into an Effective Quarterly Plan? [11 Things]

Recent survey results indicate that people include the following things in an effective quarterly plan in order of importance:

  1. Outcome goals

  2. Upcoming quarter initiatives

  3. Recap and review of the last quarter

  4. Goals for the coming quarter

  5. Project process

  6. Timelines

  7. Accountable owners

Some experts also want their quarterly planning to include:

  1. Key focus areas for the upcoming quarter, in addition to new goals

  2. Risk and opportunity analysis of planned goals

  3. A discussion of the larger goals that impact the entire company

  4. A focus on metrics that affect the customer experience

8 Benefits of Running Quarterlies in Ninety

Ninety helps you:

  • See everything you need in one place: View other Ninety tools, review last quarter's Rocks, and plan for your next quarter.
  • Discuss and solve unresolved long-term Issues accumulated during the quarter.  
  • Break down long-term goals into smaller chunks.
  • Create action steps and benchmarks.
  • Set expectations and timelines.
  • Delegate and clearly express responsibilities.
  • Create Rocks, To-Dos, headlines, and shared messages directly from your Issues list.
  • Work dynamically and interactively: add notes, comments, and attachments, assign tasks, and create quarterly goals – all within the app. 

It pays to change your old-school approach to quarterly meetings. Harvard Business Review finds that just three months after the leaders they surveyed began to rethink meetings as a conduit for change, they saw:

  • A 42% improvement in team collaboration.
  • A 32% increase in team members speaking up and expressing opinions.
  • A 28% improvement in team performance.
  • A rise in employee satisfaction with work/life balance from 62% to 92%.

5 Tips for Running a Quarterly Meeting in Ninety

  • Share Ninety on a central screen so you can have one person in the software, and everyone can see.
  • To use the default template, go to the Meetings page, click "Start Meeting," then choose "Quarterly Session" and the proper team. 
  • To edit the template or create a custom meeting agenda, click on the Settings cog in the upper right corner of the Meetings page. Here you can:
    • Add, rearrange, rename, and delete sections.
    • Edit the time for each section.
    • Turn sections on or off (some sections should only be visible for certain teams).
    • Customize your objectives and other meeting sections.
  • Save your changes to implement the new quarterly meeting agenda.
  • During the meeting, use the on-screen section timer to keep to your schedule.

Run Great Quarterly Meetings on Ninety

Now that you've learned what goes into an effective quarterly plan, it's time to put your knowledge into practice:

Run your quarterly meetings on Ninety now.

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