Help Your Project Team Escape Meeting Hell

Written by Josh Nankivel    

Meetings.  Meetings.  Meetings. The end of another week.  I didn’t get the design finished like I had wanted to this week.  It just seems like there is so much to do, and so little time! This has been happening a lot lately.  What is going on here?  Why am I not getting things done?

I decide to review what I did this week….drawing a blank….wait, I did a little programming on one project Tuesday…and I got a few hours into the design I was supposed to finish.  What else?  Time to review the email and calendar to jog my memory.

So, I’m a developer, right?  Why then, did I spend 60% of my week in meetings?

Sound familiar?
Hopefully the 60% was an exaggeration.  This little story illustrates the pain many project team members feel.  As a project manager, it is your job to direct work activities.  One of your responsibilities should be to ensure your team spends exactly as much time as necessary in meetings….no more, no less.  They’ve got work to do!

Many people who set up meetings want to be inclusive and not leave anyone out.  You have a right to question the value you can add or receive from attending a meeting if it is not obvious to you.  You have a responsibility to do this for yourself and your team.

So, project managers.  How can we help?  Here are some thoughts:

Only schedule a meeting when you have a focused agenda
Only invite exactly who needs to be there
15 to 30 minutes is optimal.  Don’t schedule hour-long meetings unless you have a darn good reason
When others invite you to a meeting require an agenda
Don’t go to others’ meetings unless there is an agenda or regular structure
Protect the time of your staff by being aware of the meetings they are invited to and chair
When in a meeting stick to the point and focus on the goals only…do not try to solve problems in a status meeting, and don’t let the conversation get off topic (whether it’s your meeting or not!)
Use a war room approach, and avoid bad multi-tasking

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