7 Tips for Meeting Participants

Meeting participants
Meeting participants should help the facilitator make the meeting run smoothly

In last week’s blog, I detailed 8 Tips for Meeting Facilitators.  This week, I’ll discuss 7 tips for meeting participants.

1) Be on time. I know, this was a tip for the facilitator, but it applies to everyone.  If you are a lower level worker who habitually shows up late, you can limit your upward mobility. People may think you are too inconsiderate of other people’s time to be prompt, or they may think you are too disorganized to be assigned to an important project.  Either way, people may no longer want to work with you.

If you are higher up on the food chain, being habitually late for meetings will set an example for everyone that reports to you.  If it’s okay for the goose, the ganders will start showing up late too.  This will not only affect your team’s reputation, but their performance as well.
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8 Tips for Meeting Facilitators

Meeting facilitator
Meeting facilitators should strive to run efficient meetings

Meetings: the ultimate necessary evil. I’ve met few people who haven’t complained about another meeting; or dreading the idea of another Monday morning status meeting, stealing an hour of their life every week.
There are certainly too many meetings in this world. Even if we could reduce the number of meetings to the necessary few, I think people would still hate meetings.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is largely a facilitation issue. So I’ve come up with 8 tips to help you facilitate meetings that people will be less likely to dread attending.
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That Bad Project Can Still Help Your Career

bad project
Bad project, good project

I once received a late-night call and was told to travel the next day to a project three and a half hours away from my home. When I reported to the project the next day, I learned that it was well behind schedule. They needed me to help them catch up and get back in good graces with the client.

At that time in my career I was trying to transition from a technical coder to a team lead or project manager role.  I wasn’t happy about being assigned to the programming role for this project.  I labored over the next seven weeks working long days to help the project get caught up. I felt like I was wasting my skills on that project.
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Running Things as Projects

Projects
Projects

I’ve been a project manager for so many years that it’s part of everything I do. In the morning, I get my coat on and grab my bag while the Keurig is running.  I just don’t want to waste that minute standing and watching coffee brew when I can be doing tasks in parallel.

My wife laughed at me when I used a Microsoft Project plan for our move to a new house a few years ago.
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Too Much Process. Not Enough Thought

process
Too much process

When I was a kid, I would watch my mother bake.  She meticulously measured the cups and tablespoons of ingredients to ensure they were precise.  The resulting products were unsurprisingly consistent.

When it tried baking and cooking as an adult, I followed the same process.  I measure things out with precision.  I eventually learned when that type of precision was necessary and when it was not.  For example, when baking, I learned that things like baking soda and yeast had to be accurate.
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Project Management Skill: Getting the Team to Communicate

project management
Project Management Skill

One of the most important abilities a good project manager has is being able communicate effectively.  Project managers need to know when to communicate, when not to communicate, and how to do it effectively.

Having good communication skills means knowing the the right format – should I email this person, call her, or schedule a meeting in person?  Once you identify the best approach, you need to determine the correct words to make your communication diplomatic and direct enough for the situation.
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In Defense of Checklists

a-checklists
Defense of checklists

A 2009 study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when surgeons used a basic checklist prior to a surgical operation, deaths were reduced by almost 50%, and complications due to surgery were reduced by more than a third.

These basic checklists included steps such as verifying the identity of the patient and the type of surgery to be performed, as well as making sure blood was available in case it was needed during surgery.

Pilots go through the same type of checklist before ever flight.
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How to Leave a Project

leave a project
How to leave a project

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. Because of that, hopefully everyone who serves on a project, knows that they will eventually leave that project.

Most projects are not fully staffed for the duration. Nearly every project that I’ve seen has ramped up slowly, starting with only a few team members.  It ramps up, occasionally adding or changing staff as needed. Then, as the project ramps down, so does the staffing.  The bell-shaped curve follows its course through project closure.
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Here’s to Shorter Meetings, Fewer Meetings

shorter meetings
Here’s to shorter meetings

Every company that I’ve ever worked for, whether as an employee or a consultant, has had way too many meetings in my opinion.  I’ve attended meetings designed to prepare for another meeting.  I’ve also seen people lead meetings who use up every minute of time allotted.  If a half-hour meeting finishes in twenty minutes, they figure out some way of extending the meeting to its allotted time.

Meetings do serve a purpose. We can’t just eliminate them altogether.  We just enable meeting abuse by allowing people to take them too far.

I’ve always believed in calling meetings only when necessary. But even then, there is the problem with necessary meetings going too long.
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Decision Making by the Project Manager

decision making
Decision making

I’ve written in the past about what makes a good project manager.  One thing I’ve never addressed is a project manager’s decision making abilities – and limitations.

Managers in general need to be decisive.  It shows the ability get things done when others don’t know how to move forward.

But a project manager needs to know when to be decisive and when to defer.

For instance, I manage projects in a consulting environment.  When issues arise requiring a decision, it’s important to realize that although I manage the project, and am responsible for the project’s success, at the end of the day the client owns the project. Even when managing an internal project, the business customer owns the project.
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101 Tips for Success in Project Management