Tag: meetings

Tips For Generating Ideas With Your Project Management Team

There are three periods during a project when you need to be able to rely on your team for great ideas: the beginning, the middle, and the end. When you toss ideas around during the planning phase, it’s a great time for innovation. When you brainstorm in the middle of a project, those discussions are generally focused on problem solving. As you’re winding things down, it’s all about exploring what worked vs. what didn’t and thinking up ways to use lessons learned to avoid pitfalls and promote success for upcoming projects. This process just doesn’t work if you try to go it alone. Project management requires creative input from your team.

The problem is that a lot of people aren’t that good at coming up with ideas on the spur of the moment. Let’s say you put a team member on the spot with a question like “You’ve been awfully quiet, Dave, do you have a suggestion you’d like to share?” Chances are good that Dave either wasn’t paying attention at all or simply wasn’t talking because he didn’t have anything relevant to add. How can you unleash the imaginative resources of your team and encourage them to share their ideas?

Seed the Discussion

Before you have a project management meeting to brainstorm, let everyone know several days in advance (if possible) what the topics will be. This could be a particular goal along with realistic parameters such as cost or schedule that will be used to determine which concepts are workable. Consider including a couple of your own ideas in this message as a starting place. It may spark inspiration in one of your team members.

When you provide this kind of advance notice of a brainstorming session, make it clear that team members will be expected to bring at least one proposal of their own to the meeting. If you have team members who tend to be shy, pair people up in a buddy system to generate an idea as partners. The more ideas you start the meeting with, the better. They don’t have to be brilliant or completely fleshed out. The important thing is to get the ball rolling so people will feel comfortable participating.

Create a Focused Environment

No one is at their creative best when they have a pile of work on their desk to worry about. If there’s no “slow day” during the typical workweek at your office, you may have the best results by scheduling a meeting to generate ideas before or after work – or on a weekend. Only use this tactic rarely and make sure to treat everyone to a good meal to keep their blood sugar stable and their mood lifted. Consider getting everyone out of the office and holding an informal meeting at a different location. A reserved dining room in a restaurant might work (some people tend to loosen up a little after a glass of wine).

Don’t Make Decisions Right Away

This may seem counterintuitive from a project management standpoint, but the purpose of a brainstorming session is not to come to a decision. The point is to come up with lots of possibilities. The decision can be made after you’ve had a chance to more fully investigate the pros and cons of a particular plan. Communicate from the outset that there’s not going to be a big “showdown” with one person’s proposal winning and everyone else losing during the meeting. That can help project management team members be more open with their ideas and less defensive if someone points out a fatal flaw in their suggested course of action.

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Virtual Meetings in Project Management

With the advent of new technologies, virtual meetings are becoming increasingly popular in project management. However, the rules for conducting a meeting in person should be revised to make the virtual meeting more effective.

Project managers are expected to apply new skills that incorporate the use of technology so that those present will be attentive and engaged. It’s difficult enough to run a meeting where all the participants are in the room, but oftentimes team members are taking part in the meeting from a remote location by phone or computer.

The basic guidelines for running a project management meeting remain the same. Relevant people should be invited, objectives should be defined, and the meeting should be started on time. However, the technology itself calls for a few added rules to be followed.

Some basic ground rules might include, logging in 10 minutes before the meeting, stating your name when you speak and avoiding multitasking by turning off cell phones and staying out of email.

It’s always a good idea to send out pertinent information before the meeting, but with virtual meetings this practice is even more crucial. Information should include items that need prior review, an agenda, ground rules, and technical instructions. Project management team members need to know when it’s okay to hit the mute button, how to place the call on hold or how to log in to the meeting.

Also keep in mind is that the nonverbal clues most project managers are accustomed to will be absent. You won’t necessarily know if participants understand or are even paying attention to what is being said. Because of this, the need to be clear and explicit becomes even more critical.

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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.

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