Project Management Comes First

Over the years we’ve figured out a few things that work very well for our weekly company meetings. I want to share those with you.

We always start by looking at our main company KPIs. For us, this includes criteria like:

  • How profitable is every project?
  • How profitable is each Project Manager?
  • What is the workload being borne by each PM’s team?

The first question is self-explanatory: how much money is each project making for us. We analyze this to evaluate whether this project is good for us and where existing or potential problems lie in order to maximize our income.

Focus on Your Team; In My Case, Project Managers

Each project manager is managing a group of projects in my company, so they’re the individuals who most need my support. In order to make sure that each PM is being successful in what they’re doing, we take the time to ask each of them about the projects that they’re currently managing.

We then need to go through and take a look at how people are feeling about things. What that means is that we ask each PM, near the end of their ‘turns’, questions like:

  • How is your client feeling?
  • Are they feeling good?
  • Are they feeling bad?
  • Is there something we need to know?
  • Is there anything we need to know to make this person feel better?
  • How do you feel about recent communications or events?
  • How do you feel about the work your team is producing?

Then we talk about how loaded each project manager’s team is. This involves questions like:

  • On a scale of one to ten, how loaded are you?
  • How much time do you have available to take on new stuff?

The importance of this question cannot be overstated, because it enables each PM to ask for more work if they’re finding themselves with more free time, or ask for help if they’re overloaded. This helps us to monitor how we’re allocating our most important resources on a weekly basis.

Use the Company Meeting to Cover the Basics

Everybody in the meeting – PMs and Contractors alike – gets three questions:

  • What did you do this week?
  • What are you doing next week?
  • What do you need help with?

It should be noted that we never actually have to waste time asking these questions now – the team is accustomed to the meetings and knows what they need to provide.

If somebody, during this time, says that they need help with a specific project or problem, we don’t actually address it here. We acknowledge the problem and schedule a one-on-one meeting with the best person to help them get what they need to succeed. We schedule these other meetings because that team meeting needs to be one hour or less.

Company Meetings Should be Brief

If your meeting takes too long, then the efficiency of each team could drop, raising the costs associated with holding the meeting. You also don’t want to unduly bore your employees. You wouldn’t be the cool boss if you did that.

Keep Team Meetings to Less Than One Hour!

To enforce this, we used to use a one-minute timer for everybody. It’s no longer necessary now because everybody is accustomed to the shorter time allowed, so we can usually keep it down to about two minutes, though it occasionally goes upwards of five.

Finally, we have an open discussion time where we talk about major company initiatives, major company issues, etc. We almost always, these days, wrap up in less than one hour. And for even a full hour’s time, this is a critical piece of what we do.

One last thing to think about when you’re doing these team meetings is the cost to you. Your entire team is working, so you, as the leader, need to be aware of what they’re doing and who they’re working with in order to ask pertinent questions. It will take a little more effort on your part, so you need to decide whether these meetings are worth it to you.

For us, I believe they’re entirely worth the time, every time.