To understand how project managers manage large teams, we spoke to them. They have worked on a variety of projects, from software to finance to utilities.
Here’s how they do this.
1. Establish ground rules
Establish a set of meeting guidelines and expectations at the beginning of your project. Don’t assume everyone is on the exact same page.
Max Durazo, AT&T Wireless Director Construction & Engineering, says that it is important to plan these in advance. “I lead meetings with 20 people or more. Meetings are less productive if attendees don’t understand the basics.
You should cover, depending on your leadership style and the type of meeting you are attending.
Is it okay to use phones/laptops in meetings and multi-task?
The consequences of not showing up on time or dialing in promptly
A silence denotes agreement policy
Respect for privacy and confidentiality of all
Participants are expected to complete the required level and type of preparation.
Expectations regarding participation and distractions during meetings
Separating the issue from the person
A common set of rules will ensure that everyone in your team understands how work is done in project meetings. It also sets the tone for you as a leader.
2. Understanding the purpose of your meeting
Complex, long-lasting projects often include a variety of meeting types, including Weekly Status Updates and Proposed Scope Changes, Risk assessments, Budget Status, Staffing Review, and many others.
Each meeting has its own purpose and an expected outcome. As the meeting leader, you must clearly explain why you are having the meeting and what you hope to achieve. When creating your meeting agenda, it is important that you can mentally align each topic, discussion, and task with your stated purpose.
“Everyone invited to your meeting should be aligned with its purpose. Amit Raman, Program Manager at Paypal, says, “If they don’t align to its purpose, they shouldn’t be there.”
A clear statement of the purpose and expected outcome at each meeting is helpful for ad-hoc meetings or one-off meetings. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and in the same frame of mind. It’s a good idea to review the purpose of recurring meetings every other meeting in order to make sure everyone remembers why they are held.
3. Establish a cadence around communication
Participants should develop a routine of communication for recurring project meetings.
Send out an agenda to your team for comments/updates at the least two days before you meet. Trackmeet or Google Docs are great collaboration tools that allow for shared Agenda editing and commenting.
Discuss any contentious issues or needing clarification prior to group discussion at your meeting. To fully explain the issue and get input, it is better to use telephone or in-person conversations than email.
“People love surprises on Christmas and birthdays. Amit says that it is not a good idea to communicate with all stakeholders.
To maintain momentum in a project or meeting, follow-up should be done within 24 hours. Distribute your notes, decisions, and action items. If technology allows, a recording or audio of your meeting can be made.
4. Set expectations for follow-up
Amit uses a contract to establish expectations for follow-up after project meetings.
“I will ensure that no one leaves our meeting room without a written record of who is doing what and when. We’ll meet again to discuss the same topics if we do not agree. He says, “Nobody wants that.”
These tasks can be explicitly captured to communicate to your project team that they will be tracked and that you consider them important. What gets measured gets done.
5. Know when to speak and when to listen
You can share your wisdom and perspective with others in a group setting.