R-E-S-P-E-C-T – It’s the Key to Productive Meetings

Mike Girdler

The key to effective project team meetings Have you ever been in a meeting and wondered to yourself, “why am I here and what are …

The key to effective project team meetings

Have you ever been in a meeting and wondered to yourself, “why am I here and what are we accomplishing?” I think most of us that work on projects would agree that at some time, on some project, we’ve all asked ourselves those questions. And we’ve sat through some pretty painful, ineffective meetings. As project managers, none of us want our team members asking those questions about meetings we’re facilitating. We want our team members engaged and our meetings to be effective. The key to holding effective meetings is simple.

Remember one word: RESPECT.Respect

As a project manager, my definition of RESPECT means treating people the way I want to be treated. Specifically, when it comes to holding team meetings, RESPECT manifests itself in four key elements that ensure they’re effective and productive.

Four keys to successful meetings

The first key to project team meeting success is to send out an agenda two days prior to the meeting. I like to let the team know the essentials: when and where the meeting is, how long it will be, what will be discussed, what is expected from the participants, what, if anything, they need to have prepared, and what is the expected outcome. This simple act of sending out the agenda ahead of time shows you’re on top of the project and shows your RESPECT for your team and their contributions. Everyone is on the same page and the stage is set for a successful meeting.

A second key to an effective meeting is to RESPECT your team members’ time. Is there anything more demoralizing to a team than meetings that routinely run over their scheduled time? Paul Slezak expands on this theme and notes, “meetings that are called at the last minute or constantly postponed are an indication that you do not have respect for your team, as they all have their own agendas to meet outside of your meetings.”

If your meeting is scheduled to start at 10:00 and end at 12:00, make sure you, as the chair, follow the agenda and end on time. By sticking to the agenda and staying on time, you’re demonstrating respect for their commitment and contributions to the success of your project. And you’re recognizing that they may have other projects or work that requires their attention.

The third manner in which I like to show RESPECT for my team is to, actually, listen to them. In her blog, Rochelle del Callar, highlights the importance of listening to the team, “A team meeting is a time to hear the thoughts and insights of the individual members.”

I’ll take it a step further, these team members are on the project because they’re the experts in their respective areas. Listen to what they’re saying as it fosters a better meeting environment. It’s  also your opportunity to gather information that contributes to a project running smoother and reaching a successful end.

The final key for an effective meeting is action items/follow up. I don’t think there is anything more counterproductive than holding a meeting and then not letting the participants know the result of the meeting and what next steps are. Again, I am all about RESPECT and I convey this to my team through my follow up. The team is provided a recap of topics and discussion items, status updates, action items, and next steps in preparation for our next meeting. As a rule, I like to have this follow up document to my team members in their hands no longer than 24 hours after the meeting.

And there you have it. If you want to run an effective project team meeting, it’s all about RESPECT. RESPECT your team members before your meeting by sending out an agenda, RESPECT them during the meeting by sticking to your schedule and listening, and RESPECT them after the meeting by providing a follow up with meeting results.

What other meeting techniques do you employ to ensure effective team meeting success? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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