4 Ways a Project Manager Can Make Progress Meetings More Effective

As a project manager, you know that meetings are essential, yet widely hated parts of people’s workweeks. While those in creative jobs can be especially hesitant to leave their desks and abandon their craft for a period of time, it’s important to check in often to ensure they’re appropriately utilizing their talent. There are ways to reduce the burden of a meeting for both you and your employees so you can make the most of your time together.

1. Break into multiple meetings

With your busy schedule, it could be tempting to get marketing analysts, IT directors, and everyone else involved on a project together in one room for a progress meeting. However, not only would it take up more time for the whole team, but it would also be severely less effective. Inc. Magazine recommended holding different meetings for each role. Check in with each team member individually for an accurate report of his or her progress and any obstacles that are preventing a job from getting done. Once everyone’s feedback is rounded up, you’ll be able to more clearly see what’s on track to meet deadlines and note any holdups. While it is necessary for each member to know the status of certain items, that kind of transparency can be achieved through other means that don’t involve everyone stepping away from their desks for a long period of time. The source noted that it’s common for large, convoluted meetings to get off track and miss key points.

2. Create an agenda

It can be easy to get off track when meeting with an employee who has a lot to say. For this reason, Forbes listed creating an agenda as its No. 1 secret to an effective meeting. Before you meet, create a list of talking points and share it with him or her so both of you can prepare what needs to be discussed. Not only will this keep the conversation focused, but it will also help the meeting stay within the confines of the schedule. When meetings are too long, and even when they’re too brief, they’re not as useful for either party. Depending on their duration, they could either reduce motivation and time spent executing work, or they could leave things unclear.

3. Leave time for action items

The worst offense of a poorly conducted one-on-one meeting is not reserving enough time to properly discuss what needs to be done. Forbes recommended ending each meeting with a summary of action items and deadlines. Each point should be discussed in detail in the meeting so both you and your employee have realistic expectations of how a project should be completed. Additionally, deadlines should be created from the conversation. Rather than assign dates, ask your employee how much time is needed to successfully complete it. By doing this, you’re distributing power to him or her and, in turn, earning more respect as an approachable manager. Forbes provided a timeline for an effective 45-minute progress meeting, which includes 15 minutes devoted to your employee’s concerns, another 15 minutes reserved for your feedback, 10 minutes covering long-term goals for their design or marketing career, and the remaining five minutes for accountabilities and deadlines.

4. Keep lines of communication open

Prevent a buildup of information from happening by keeping communication open throughout the week. Forbes noted that open communication is key to effective management. The more your employees check in with you throughout the week, the less time you’re likely to spend on the same issues in your scheduled meeting. Respond to questions in a timely fashion, and never make your direct reports feel like they can’t turn to you.

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