Regular project meetings are necessary for the success of any important project. While ongoing, individual communication among team members via phones, IM and email, is also important, gathering the whole team together (even in just a teleconference) on a weekly basis to discuss the project’s goals, progress and issues, is still essential.
Following are five tips for ensuring your project leadership and their teams can get the most out of these meetings.
- Set a dedicated day and time for the project meeting, and stick to it. Impromptu meetings are necessary when a serious issue or event arises that impacts the project, but otherwise there should be a set time and date for the meeting, rather than “sometime this week.”
- Lead the meeting. While it’s easy to simply call a meeting, provide a brief overview, and then settle back while team members provide task updates, these kinds of meetings aren’t as productive as they could be. Coming into each and every meeting, the project manager should have an agenda to with which to lead the discussion. Open dialogues are also useful, but they should be saved for the end of the meeting.
- Everyone at the meeting should have an agenda, not just the project manager. Team members should come in with items they want to discuss, questions they want to ask or points they want to make. Encourage your team members to be prepared for meetings, to ensure they don’t forget to bring up these items during the meeting.
- Keep meetings constructive. In conversations about bad project news, it’s easy to fall into the blame game of what went wrong and who is responsible (especially if the meeting is a project post-mortem). While the issue and the individuals responsible (if any) shouldn’t be glossed over, these topics should be addressed constructively, as a path to lessons learned. By keeping things focused on identifying and solving problems rather than assigning blame, team members will be much more at ease in discussing the project.
- Keep minutes. It’s unfortunate, but often valuable topics of discussion and key points, valuable as they are, are sometimes forgotten. Make sure that a record is taking during each meeting and that valuable business intelligence is captured. Share the notes with all team members to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page.