~ By Duncan Brodie
As a manager or leader, chances are that you will be given responsibility for a project at some time in your career. It could be a new computer system implementation, building a new facility, introducing a new piece of equipment or a new product or service.
As part of your role, you will want to make sure that the project is progressing as expected and that any issues are being addressed. Project meetings are one of the most common ways of doing this, so how can you ensure that your project meetings are effective?
Have you ever gone along to a meeting that took two hours out of your day and achieved nothing? If yes, chances are that there were no clear objectives for the meeting. Before calling any meeting, make sure that you have clear objectives that you can measure.
Meetings without an agenda drift, take longer than they need to and don't get results. Produce and circulate the agenda in advance, at least 1 or 2 days before the meeting, not 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. Give indicative timings for each item and allow for slippage.
Receiving a mountain of papers, filled with page after page of detail is the biggest de-motivator, not to mention a waste of resources for someone attending a project meeting. Try to keep each paper to a maximum of one page. Consider giving people a template to use that might include a simple traffic light system to indicate where things are going well (green), there are some issues (amber) and major issues (red).
While there is usually a core project team, there might be decisions that require someone more senior from time to time. If you know this in advance, make sure that you get the person who can make the decision along otherwise you will have a frustrated team on your hands.
Have you ever gone to a meeting in the heat of summer where there is no air conditioning and the person chairing has not even thought about having ice cold water available? Effective meetings can only take place if the people attending are comfortable, so take care of this the best you can.
There is nothing more frustrating than people turning up 15 minutes after the scheduled start time and the meeting running over by 30 minutes. Make sure that it is clear to everyone that you will be starting and finishing on time. Encourage them to leave 30 minutes either side of the meeting free to ensure they can get there on time and that if something major arises it can be dealt with.
At the end of the day, running effective meetings is about planning. Make sure you take care of this vitally important area.
Duncan Brodie is a Leadership Development Coach and Management Trainer at Goals and Achievements http://www.goalsandachievements.co.uk. He specialises in helping accountants and professionals to make the transition from technical expert to manager and leader.