89. Leadership systems behind successful coworking spaces.

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Leadership Systems for Coworking Spaces

Why are leadership systems important?

If you don’t have a team yet and would like to get into the mindset of working “on” your business instead of “in your business” get The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About it by Michael Gerber.

If you have a team, you know that managing a team well takes practice and effort. It’s like marriage. There’s a honeymoon stage of having someone to help you get everything done and then you realize you really need to get some things in place to keep your relationship healthy and keep the team functioning at a high level.

It’s also important to have leadership systems in place with your team to lower employee turnover which can be high in coworking spaces for a few reasons:

  1. We ask our teams to wear a lot of hats which can be overwhelming and stressful

  2. The Community Manager role is outward facing, “always on” and requires endless multi-tasking which can exhaust even the most extroverted personalities.

  3. Good staff may get recruited by our members or other business owners that appreciate the wide range of skills they’ve developed and can afford to pay more. (Download the Global Workspace Associations’ Industry Report for Average Community Manager Pay).

  4. If you start to scale, you can no longer be “the brand.” Your team needs to reflect the culture and values of the brand in addition to performing all of the tasks that go with running a successful space.

  5. These systems will also help you get to a place where you can comfortably take a vacation with your family and not be on Slack or email all day supporting your team. Because you have systems in place to help them be highly functioning without you.

Where do I come from on this topic?

I have one coworking space but I also have a GWA team and an Everything Coworking team. Some of you may be in a similar situation of running different businesses and trying to keep your businesses growing, and your teams happy and productive.

I am not in my space every day and I can’t micro-manage a team member - which is a position you’ll be in as you start to scale, or spend more time away from  your business on other projects.

What might your team look like?

Your In-space, operating team

  • Community managers

  • Operations managers

  • Janitorial

“Corporate level” team

  • Sales

  • Marketing

  • IT

  • Finance/Accounting

What systems do you want to have in place to help your team communicate, coordinate and work together?

Tech you might use to support team communication and project management?

  • Project Management: Asana/Trello

  • Team Communication: Slack

  • Team Communication: Email

  • Team Scheduling Tool: Outlook/Google Cal

  • Document Sharing: Google Drive/Dropbox

  • CRM – business tool but also a critical communication tool

Leadership System: Team Meetings

A note about meetings – it will be easy to push them off for urgent issues that come up. You might not want to “waste time meeting because you have so much to actually get done.” You might be tempted to cancel your meetings to let everyone have the hour back to get stuff done. I struggle with this all the time. Even though I experience the value of meetings, the temptation to ask for time back to “get more stuff done” is an everlingering temptation.

I am inherently against meetings... but I have learned over time, working for lean, fast-moving startups, running my businesses and the GWA, that having the right meetings with the right people with the right structure is the only way you can truly be strategic in your business, focus on priorities and get out in front of projects that will move your business forward.

Done well, they’re also a great opportunity to build your team culture, recognize the wins of the team and give consistent feedback on things that need to get done differently.

I do not want to digress into the topic of setting and tracking organizational goals because that’s a long rabbit hole, but if you are thinking about or in the process of scaling your business, read the book “Traction: Get a Grip on your Business.” It lays out very simply, the processes you should have in place to grow and succeed. Almost the entire GWA board has read it and it’s a favorite among my Flight Group members.

Meeting Intervals to consider:

  • Daily

  • Weekly

  • Monthly

  • Quarterly Offsite

  • Annual retreat

The Daily 20 minute Meeting:

Have multiple locations and an operational team with interdependencies? Or a significant project that needs constant communication among your team? Consider the daily meeting. Host it first thing in the morning, put a strict time limit on it – in our business 20 minutes is probably realistic. Host it over Zoom if you can so that your distributed team can connect visually.

Best Practices for Meetings:

  • For every meeting type, have a standard structure for your agenda.

  • Have your team drive the agenda. You can add notes to it, but have your team take full ownership over the content so that you aren’t spending your life updating meeting agendas.

  • Put the agenda in a shared doc such as a Google doc.

  • Put the link to the shared doc in the repeating calendar invite for the meeting so that everyone on the team has easy access to go in and update it.

  • Include links to other resources that you reference in your meetings such as trackers and dashboards.

  • Ask your team to prioritize the list. Consider having a section at the top that is “Priority Items.” Inexperienced team members will be tempted to brain dump topics that are on their mind that don’t have a place in a 20 to 60 minute meeting.  Which is why it’s important to give them a place to voice these ideas – in monthly/quarterly/annual meetings where you make the time to get into less urgent topics.
    Make sure to leave time for team announcements, celebrating wins and any feedback on process changes for the team.

The Hour-Long Meeting – for weekly or bi-weekly meetings that you need to have with key staff or teams.

Full team Monday Meeting

Location managers – hour to an hour and a half each week. This may be 1:1 or group your locations so that they can learn from each other. Conduct on Zoom to build connection, culture.

Specialty teams or functions such as marketing, finance, sales.


  • Have same meeting structure – have your team own the agenda. Have a standard agenda with clear headers. Prioritize the agenda because you won’t get through everything. Have your team own follow-up assignments in Asana even if they are assigned to you.

  • Review metrics, trackers, dashboards that feed into monthly targets and leave time to determine a course of action if you’re off track to meet your goals.

  • Provide performance feedback or help with things like prioritizing.
    An inexperienced team member may not know how to prioritize  their work, or may not align with how YOU would prioritize work.

  • Ask team members to report on tasks that didn’t get done – it’s easy for tasks to die in Asana if there’s no accountability.

Remember: What gets measured gets attention. What gets attention gets done.

The Monthly Meeting


  • Review quarterly targets and progress against them

  • Get in front of projects for the next month.

Ask someone to come to the meeting with a draft of the project plan and use the team to augment the plan. Give the team an opportunity to get in front of what’s coming and schedule for it. This will help over time to create a more consistent feel to the day vs. everything feeling urgent and 911-like.  It will help give you the head space to catch things that would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Quarterly Meetings are good for:
1.     Staff training
2.     Strategic planning
3.     Project planning
4.     Team-building

Annual Meetings are good for:
1.     Team building
2.     Volunteering
3.     Annual goal setting
4.     Annual planning

Final Tip:

Be consistent, not perfect. Fall off, get back on the band wagon. You will see results.

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Traction: Get a Grip on your Business.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About it


When: The Science of Perfect Timing