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6 Tips for More Effective Status Meetings

Ah, the dreaded status meeting.
It inspires brief bursts of productivity immediately before the meeting, but often results in a dozen of highly paid individuals sitting in a room, recounting what they accomplished last week. If every project requires a weekly status meeting, this can become costly.
These six simple tips will help team leaders and project managers ease the pain of status meetings and reap the rewards of increased productivity.

6 Tips for More Effective Status Meetings

  1. 1. 6 Tips for More Effective Status Meetings Keeping stakeholders informed without spending 6 hours a week in meetings
  2. 2. Introduction Ah, the dreaded status meeting. It inspires brief bursts of productivity immediately before the meeting, but often results in a dozen of highly paid individuals sitting in a room, recounting what they accomplished last week. If every project requires a weekly status meeting, this can become costly. These six simple tips will help team leaders and project managers ease the pain of status meetings and reap the rewards of increased productivity.
  3. 3. 1. Choose the right frequency If you get too routine and predictable with your status meetings, team members often adjust their momentum to the pace of the meeting schedule—only accomplishing what is necessary to have something to report on, and then forgetting about the project until the next meeting.
  4. 4. Rick A. Morris and Brette Sember Amanet.org “There is a myth that because a project exists, a status meeting must exist. The problem with this thinking is that it conditions people to not be productive during the week.”
  5. 5. Patrice Embry Senior Project Manager, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industries “For me, it comes down to how often we need to meet in order to make sure we’re aligned— both sides feel like they have a good handle on what’s going on. Most likely, that will change as the project moves through its cycles. We may start at bi- weekly, but toward the end, we may be touching on hot items daily.”
  6. 6. 1. Choose the right frequency Note: “Touching on hot items daily” does not require all hands on deck, and it doesn’t have to be in person.
  7. 7. 2. Communicate between meetings On teams that don’t have a dedicated project manager, today’s software solutions can be a feline. If every member of the team is regularly logging in to the same online environment to rack time, collaborate, post updates, review deliverables, and assign and accept tasks— project status will rarely be in question. And if stakeholders are given the proper access, they an pop in to see how things are going any time they want.
  8. 8. 3. Be prepared If a work management software solution is in place, everyone on the team will have a fairly good grasp on status before a meeting. But this doesn’t make project managers or status meetings irrelevant. On the contrary, meeting time can be used for more than a simple round-robin of “here’s what I did this week!” declarations. Instead, team members can get aligned around vision and goals, identify and remove bottlenecks, and make course corrections as needed.
  9. 9. Patrice Embry Senior Project Manager, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industries “A clear time duration, an agenda that has more than sparse bullet points, and a statement about what should be decided or settled by the end of the meeting (clear next steps, a decision on design A or B, etc.) sent out before the meeting can be super helpful. Starting off the discussion by saying, ‘Okay, we have until 3:00 p.m., and we have five things to work on today, so let’s get right into it’ helps, too.”
  10. 10. 4. Stick to an agenda Just having an agenda will make your status meeting stand out from most other status meetings. But that’s not enough. You also need to manage participants to the agenda. Don’t allow team members to hijack the time for off-topic brainstorming, reviewing or revising deliverables, or solving conflicts that only involve one or two of the people in the room. Those topics should be handled offline or in a different meeting.
  11. 11. Patrice Embry Senior Project Manager, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industries “When someone starts getting off topic or we start running out of time, I put on my self- deprecating project manager hat and say, ‘As PM, it’s my legal obligation to let you know that we only have 5 minutes left.’ This usually gets both a chuckle and renewed sense of urgency.”
  12. 12. 5. Take notes
  13. 13. Patrice Embry Senior Project Manager, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industries “Status should never happen without some sort of means of recording information, whether that’s in a spreadsheet, a document, a list in your project management system—whatever gets the job done. Being able to reference previous decisions is super helpful, and it keeps everyone on task.”
  14. 14. 5. Take notes Of course, there are limitations to spreadsheets and documents, especially if they are only accessible to the person who created them. Shared online documents like Google Docs go one step further, allowing the entire team to view, contribute to, print, and share the information easily.
  15. 15. 5. Take notes Even better is a work management system that can not only store information, but also: - Send automatic reminders - Calculate by percentage how much work is left to be done - Generate reports - Make it easy to assign follow-up tasks to different individuals - Integrate seamlessly with other systems, like email and Google Docs
  16. 16. 5. Take notes A running status sheet is also a must. This kind of list can be especially useful when you have stakeholders whose engagement with you fluctuates widely, and yet they have the power to bring everything to a screeching halt seemingly at will. This is usually a C-level manager. For stakeholders like this, regularly delivering the “running status sheet” in his or her preferred communication method can keep the interruptions at bay.
  17. 17. 6. Stop calling them status meetings Unless your goal for the meeting really is about achieving a common understanding of where the project currently stands—instead of making strategic decisions and using the time to collaborate and refine—it makes more sense to call it something other than a “status meeting.” Even to slight shift to “sync-up meeting” can create a different expectation in your participants’ minds.
  18. 18. Patrick Theam Rhythmsystems.com “There is so much power in what you choose to call this meeting. What you call it sets the tone and expectations of everyone that’s coming. If you don’t do anything else, at least change the name of your meeting to a Weekly Adjustment Meeting. We don’t need ‘death by status’ anymore. We need to discuss solutions, and make the necessary and often critical adjustments in our execution so that we can achieve the objectives for the quarter. So let’s call it that!”
  19. 19. The End of Status Meetings? Of course, we would like to see status meetings occupy a more elevated, respected, and yes, rare, place in corporate life. Times have changed. There are so many more convenient ways to update each other on project status—email, work management software, shared Google docs and spreadsheets, instant messaging, even texts. And these methods are also archivable and searchable, which is something you can’t say about updates that are verbally volleyed around a conference room table.
  20. 20. The End of Status Meetings? By refocusing the purpose of status meetings and reducing their number, you can use your precious face-to-face time to collaborate about where you want to go—instead of merely explaining where you are right now (yawn) or describing where you’ve already been.
  21. 21. Devour Chaos, Drive Creativity Creativity has a new protector. Workfront provides just enough structure to bring order to creative teams’ workflows and give them more time for the real work of creativity. To learn how Workfront marketing work management can benefit your team, watch the demo today.
  22. 22. For more invaluable work management tips, follow us on social media: Twitter.com/Workfront_Inc Linkedin.com/company/workfront Facebook.com/Wokrfront

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