From American Management Association
To keep projects on track, monitor potential problems, and ensure that the expected results get delivered on time and on budget, project leaders and their teams need to meet often. Scheduling regular project status meetings—whether in person or virtual—isn’t enough. Project managers need to know how to set up and run meetings that keep participants engaged and yield valuable outcomes without wasting anyone’s valuable time.
A world leader in professional development, American Management Association (AMA) offers these six simple rules to make sure your project status meetings are productive:
1. Leave job titles at the door
No one knows a project and its challenges better than the team members who are doing the work. Yet, when a meeting includes C-suite executives or other high-level decision-makers, those very team members may feel too intimidated to speak up and share their insights and concerns. When all participants are invited to feel like equal contributors, it helps keep the focus of the meeting where it belongs: on the project.
2. Make sure everyone feels “heard”
People make their best contributions if they feel valued and included. Consider starting the meeting by having each team member and project stakeholder take a turn giving a brief status update—without interruptions. No one gets heard if everyone is speaking. If the meeting is virtual, you might ask participants to hit their “mute” button when another member has the floor. Discourage sidebar conversations. Besides distracting focus from the project and dragging out the meeting, off-topic chatter might make some people feel excluded.
3. Admit and forgive mistakes
Mistakes happen, even on the best-planned project with the most conscientious team. Everyone should agree to acknowledge them, learn from them, and forgive them. Then move on. Also, make your project status meetings a judgement-free zone. This isn’t the time, place, or space to criticize other people’s performance or call attention to their lack of experience.
4. Agree on communication channels
Clear and reliable communication is essential to effective project collaboration. Establish a medium and method of communication that works for everyone on the team. Whether it’s email, instant messaging, phone calls, video conferencing, or some other platform, get the team’s consensus and make sure all members have access to any required tools or applications. If team members work together on-site, don’t overlook the option of face-to-face check-ins. Whatever communication channel or channels your team agrees on, stress the importance of using them consistently and frequently.
5. Take responsibility
Everyone involved in the project must take ownership of and be responsible for their own actions. As the project team manager, assigning problem-solving tasks to the right people is crucial. It’s much easier for people to take responsibility for a task when they have the skills and knowledge needed to get it done.
6. Close the meeting with a recap
Finally, wrap up every project status meeting with a recap of what each team member has agreed to do, and by when. Also, remind participants: Silence means consensus. So, if anyone has a question or objection, they need to speak up—just not all at once.
Most people don’t like being told to follow rules. So, try to frame these and other ground rules in a positive way—not as something to merely restrict but, rather, meant to benefit every team member and the entire project. By sticking to these six simple rules, you and your team will be surprised at how much more productive your project status meetings will be.
American Management Association (AMA) is globally recognized as a leader in professional development. For nearly 100 years, it has helped millions of people bring about positive change in their performance in order to improve results. AMA’s learn-by-doing instructor-led methods, extensive content, and flexible learning formats are proven effective—and constantly evolve to meet the changing needs of individuals and organizations. To learn more, visit www.amanet.org.