Making the Most of Your Project Team Meetings

Anyone who has sat through a long and boring project management team meeting has probably thought, at least once, “Why am I here?” Team meetings don’t have to be aimless, dull and never-ending. Here are a few helpful tools to help make your next teem meeting more effective, shorter and maybe even add a little fun into the mix.

The meeting should be as short as you can make it. However, it must be long enough to accomplish the task(s) at hand. Try dividing the number of minutes allotted for the meeting by the number of people attending. If this number is 4 or less you’ve either invited too many people or not allowed enough time to get things done.

Distribute the agenda beforehand. This accomplishes two things. First of all, people won’t be surprised and will have time to think about what will be discussed before the meeting begins. Second, circulating a handout during a meeting wastes time and those attending the meeting spend time reading and trying to digest the material, rather than getting right to work.

The best way to spice up a dull meeting is through the use of humor. It reduces stress, increases creativity and lightens the overall mood of the meeting. Add a little lively music before the meeting or tell a joke or two to start things out. If joke-telling isn’t your forte find a person on the team who is good at it.

What works for one project management team may not work for another, but trying something new could be the key to turning a boring, ineffective meeting into one that actually moves the team forward.

Prioritizing Projects

At any given time a company may have several project management life cycles going on simultaneously. To accomplish this juggling act, it’s important to decide which projects have priority. The most important projects must finish on time with resources kept in tact. Projects can be prioritized by following a few simple steps.

First of all, a criteria for defining a project’s importance should be developed. Projects that are critical to the business strategy should be given a higher priority than those that have little to do with overall goals. If there is no clear business strategy, other criteria should be considered, such as the dependence of other projects on this one, the amount of risk involved, the number of resources to be consumed or the project’s potential for success.

The next step is to match the criteria against each project and identify any gaps. It is possible that some projects which might have been thought to be a perfect fit really aren’t and others that weren’t considered important might need to be marked as high priority. In project management it is sometimes tempting to go for the “fun” projects, but personal preferences should be set aside.

It might be helpful to come up with a method of ranking projects as either high, medium, or low priority. Once all projects have been grouped, more care can be taken with projects categorized as high and spare resources can be allocated to these projects.

By using this strategy, project management life cycles can be better managed with an increased chance of overall success.

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Reducing Project Team Stress

When the project management team is trying to meet deadlines to successfully complete a project, there is sure to be a certain amount of stress. Managing stress is crucial since it could affect performance and, ultimately, the success of the project.

Believe it or not, not all stress is bad. While negative stress can reduce efficiency and take focus away from the project, positive stress can focus the team on goals and boost productivity. The aim then is to turn any negative stress into positive energy.

Certain people or small groups can interject negativity on the whole team. Address these people directly and ask them to improve their attitudes so that the rest of the team can be happier in their work. If they have a legitimate grievance let them know you are listening and deal with the problem.

As project manager you should also watch your own mood. If you are stressed, it could be affecting the whole team. Instead, be positive and upbeat letting that rub off on the team.

Take time to meet with team members individually and do what you can to boost their morale. With more confidence they are sure to be more productive.

Recognize accomplishments with positive feedback and possibly provide bonuses, prizes or awards for excellent work. Also, consider reviewing salaries if performance warrants.

Take some time to build positive relationships. Provide a time and place, away from work, and get to know each other. Remember to not talk about work.

Finally, hold frequent project management meetings to reinforce collective goals. Be positive so the team will leave energized and focused on completing the project.

Project Management in a Troubled Economy

With the economic changes that have occurred over the past year it’s not surprising that project managers might be asked to tighten their budgets and try to get work done more quickly with fewer resources. It has never been more important in project management to avoid costly delays and cut costs wherever possible.

One thing the project manager will have to decide on is where cuts should be made. Most often these cuts should occur across the board so that no single phase of the project is hit too hard. If everyone shares a little in the burden it’s less likely to have a major impact on operations. Focus on needs and eliminate wants.

It’s also important not to sacrifice quality in the final product for the sake of saving money. Figure out what can be trimmed down without affecting productivity.

The project manager must, during difficult times, run a very tight ship. Deadlines must be met and delays must be avoided. By paying close attention to details, problems can be identified early and dealt with expeditiously thereby avoiding irreparable damage to the project’s bottom line.

Choose projects carefully and only take on what can be handled monetarily. Know when to say no to projects that probably won’t have a good return on investment and focus on projects that have more promise. It might also be a good time to invest in project management training which can help promote better performance when the economy takes a turn for the better.

The Importance of Listening and Feedback for Project Managers

Much can be said about communication when it comes to project management. Everyone on the team needs to be clear on their assignments and understand the goals of the project. Where some project managers need improvement is in the area of listening and providing feedback.

Being a better listener leads to higher productivity and improves the potential for influencing and persuading others as well as negotiating effectively, all which lead to better project management.

First of all, let the speaker know you are paying attention and hearing what they are saying. A nod of the head doesn’t mean you necessarily agree, but the speaker will know you are listening. Stop what you are doing and use body language such as leaning forward a bit. This will also help you to pay attention and keep your mind from wondering.

Don’t interrupt. Let the person speaking finish and, after a few seconds of silence, respond. At this point what you say is very important. You can either recap what has just been said, ask a clarifying question or make a relevant comment that lets the speaker know you understand the message.

The feedback you give is important. Acknowledge to the speaker that you understand their points even if you don’t agree with them. Just knowing you have listened and taken their position under consideration will earn respect and encourage future sharing of ideas.

Finally, don’t rush to judgment. If what the speaker says makes sense, be open to changing your mind, especially if it will improve the project management process.