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Project management templates… and more

Monthly Archives: March 2015


Eliminate Excess Meetings

Six Tips to Eliminate Excess Meetings

  1. Encourage Accessibility. Many times meetings are scheduled because decision makers have been inaccessible. They are holed up in their office with the door closed all day, or they may be road warriors that rarely return phone calls or emails. Encourage these key decision makers to make themselves accessible for quick questions, return calls and prompt email replies. This will eliminate the need to drag them, and a whole bunch of other people, into a meeting.
  2. Use a Good Project Management Tool. Affordable project management tools have reached a level of simplicity and sophistication that just a few years ago was reserved for expensive enterprise level solutions. Take advantage of these tools to do things that otherwise call for a meeting: task assignment, collaboration, and discussions. These can all occur virtually and eliminate the need for scheduling another meeting.
  3. Change Your Culture. Unnecessary meetings can be a result of people not wanting to make their own decisions. They may not realize they have permission to make decisions on their own. Work on changing your culture from one of indecision to it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. Good people will make good decisions. Trust them to do the right thing without having to call a meeting for every decision. They will infrequently also make bad decisions. Work with them to show them what they could have done differently, but don’t chastise them to the point that they revert to the old culture of meeting madness.
  4. Know How Much Your Meetings Cost. Understanding the cost of personnel when you hold a meeting can be an eye opener. A one hour meeting with eight average-salaried employees will easily run into the hundreds of dollars. In a mid to large sized company it quickly adds up to up to thousands of dollars spent weekly just on meetings! Is there a better use of everyone’s time that provides a greater ROI to the company? Most likely, there is.
  5. Review the Need for Recurring Meetings. Project managers love recurring meetings. When a project starts out, one of the first things we typically do is set up a weekly meeting where everyone can touch base about the project. These meetings are invaluable during the project’s early days, but they begin to lose their utility as the project progresses. Review the frequency of your recurring meetings to see if perhaps they could be moved to every other week, or maybe even once a month if things are going well with the project.
  6. Pay Attention. You need to lay ground rules at the outset of meetings that encourages everyone to pay attention. Kindly remind them to take their hands off their laptops, check their digital devices at the door, keep their eyes up, be attentive and engage. It’s a waste of your time if you have to schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss something that was covered – but that they didn’t catch!

Meetings are indispensible when it comes to sharing information, collaborating, and making decisions. However, be mindful that meetings can also be time wasters and productivity killers. Implement these suggestions and you will easily gain up to a full day of your work life back each week!


Manage Virtual Teams

Manage Communication
Eight Steps to Manage Virtual Teams


There are some special techniques that can be used to manage these virtual teams.

  • Establish team objectives. The team members need to know and understand what it is that they are doing together. If people only understand their own role and their own work, they will always just be individual contributors.
  • Remind everyone they are a team.  If the team members think they are all working independently, they will act independent.  If they know they are part of a team working on common objectives and deliverables, they will tend to feel better about their work and be more active in their collaboration with other team members. 
  • Obtain the right technology. The technology is there to support virtual teams – there is really no reason to be without it. This includes fast access to the Internet, audio conferencing, videocams, collaborative software, shared directories, etc.   
  • Look for opportunities to “socialize.” Team members located together have opportunities to socialize throughout the day. Virtual teams don’t usually have this same opportunity to interact with each other, so it is more important for the project manager to look for ways they can bond.  This might include getting everyone together one time in a face-to-face setting – perhaps a Project Kickoff meeting. 
  • Be sensitive to cultural difference. It is possible that your virtual team all thinks and acts the same way. However, more and more virtual teams consist of people from multiple countries and multiple cultures. If you are the project manager on this type of team, make sure you have some appreciation for the differences in how people work and how they behave.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  The project manager needs to be extra proactive in his communication to make sure everyone understands what is expected. People can start to feel isolated if they do not receive regular communication. It is hard enough to keep everyone informed on a “regular” project.  The communication lines on a virtual team must be opened up especially wide. The project manager can provide this steady stream of communication.
  • Adjust and compromise on time differences. The project manager needs to recognize that what is convenient for the project manager is not always convenient to the team members. For instance, if you are a manager in a global company it may not be practical to start all project meetings at 9:00 am. That may be convenient to the manager but it can result in resentment from people in other global locations that need to stay very late for these meetings.  
  • Give people shorter assignments. This is not the time to give people long assignments and hope that they are completed by the deadline.  Instead of assigning a six-week activity, for instance, the project manager should assign the work in three two-week activities. In the former case, you would not know for sure if the work was done for six weeks. In the later case, you can tell every two weeks if the work is on track.

These techniques will help your virtual teams be as successful as your co-located teams.