How to manage a project progress meeting

Have you ever attended a meeting that had just a rough outline of an agenda, or no agenda at all?
Whatever type of project meeting you are holding there should always be an agenda distributed beforehand to the participants.
Never just ask someone for information in the meeting – everyone needs time to prepare the right data to ensure an accurate update of project progress is delivered.But as the project manager you need to remember that a progress meeting is what it says and you need to remind the attendees of this fact, if necessary. A progress meeting is not a time to air grievances, raise change requests or listen to the technical minutiae of an ongoing problem.
A progress meeting should be brief (so book the meeting room for a limited amount of time – probably no longer than an hour) and everyone should understand it’s objective, which is simply an update on where the project stands with respect to its schedule and any issues affecting progress.
Any issues requiring detailed discussion should be deferred to another meeting where you can discuss the specifics with only those people affected.
So here are some tips to help you manage and control your next project progress meeting:
1.  Write an agenda and distribute it beforehand
Even if this is one of many such meetings an agenda is a reminder to the participants just what the meeting is intended to cover and what is expected of them. It gives everyone time to gather the progress information they need to provide at the meeting.
2.   Repeat the objective
The agenda should be a reminder of the aim of the meeting but state the aims again at the beginning of the meeting and during the meeting if discussions are veering off topic.
3.  Review progress and future actionsReview the progress from the last meeting and actions for the next period. On a large and mature project it might be possible to do this by exception.
4.  Stay focusedStay focused on discussing progress updates, assigning actions or revising the schedule where necessary. Do not deal with any unrelated issues – defer them instead to another meeting.
5.  Allow everyone a chance to speakNobody wants to sit in a meeting listening to one person dominating the conversation so limit the time any one person is allowed to speak by moving the meeting along to the next topic.
6.  Avoid boredomNothing will be achieved if people are not engaging in the meeting so keep meetings to an hour or less to avoid boredom setting in.
7.  Assign actionsAssign follow-up actions specifically to an individual with an expected completion date. Whoever is recording the meeting minutes should also create an action plan.
8.  SummaryAt the end of the progress meeting summarise what has been discussed, what actions have been assigned, and to whom, and set a date for the next progress meeting.
Following these simple steps will ensure your meetings achieve something and are a good use of everyone’s time. 

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