I am a believer in the power of project management.
As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.
No Hidden Agendas
What comes to mind when I say the word “meetings?”
If you are like most people, you have a visceral reaction to the idea of meetings. You hate them. You think that they are a waste of time. And, you are not alone. In one survey, nearly fifty percent of office professionals said they believe that most meetings they attend are a waste of time. That’s why the following quote is so frequently repeated in most corporate settings.
A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.Joseph Stilwell
Allow me to share an unpopular, contrary opinion: meetings are good.
Meetings are a tremendously valuable tool for getting things done as a project manager. They give a venue to collaborate, to drive accountability and to build camaraderie. I wouldn’t be one-tenth as effective of a project manager without meetings.
The real problem is bad meetings; bad meetings suck!
We have all experienced bad meetings in our life, right? Here are just a few examples of the bad meetings that I have experienced:
- Meetings that were unapologetically scheduled on top of other meetings
- Days so full of meetings that don’t even have time for bathroom breaks
- Meetings that seem not to have a point or a focus, but you are still meeting
- Meetings that start late or run long
- Meetings where key participants come late, requiring everybody else to wait or to repeat everything they missed
- Disengaged or disruptive people talking just to talk (the peacocks showing their plumage) or who are on their phones
There are so many bad meetings in the world that it is no wonder that meetings get such a bad rap. But, some basic meeting etiquette can convert meetings from painful to productive. I am not talking about any complex techniques, just focusing on the basics.
- Know why you are meeting and what the desired outcome is and share with the invitees
- Schedule meetings at a time that works for all invitees, even if that means working with people to rearrange conflicts
- Include only the minimum necessary people
- Plan for the minimum effective duration and start and end on time
- Ensure that everybody is paying attention and engage disruptive and disengaged participants
- Publish a recap to ensure that everybody is on the same page at the conclusion
Most importantly: have an agenda for the meeting.
Agendas clarify what your meeting needs to accomplish, the topics to be discussed, and confirm the decisions that need to be made. If you have an agenda, you are well on your way to an effective meeting. Sharing your agenda in advance will help you set expectations and increases the probability that your goal will be accomplished.
As you know, meetings don’t just exist at work. We all have meetings in our lives. We each meet with medical professionals, coaches, mentors and other people included in our team of experts (see Go Fast Or Go Far – Part 1). The meeting etiquette that helps your work meetings not suck will also help the other meetings in your life.
Never skip the agenda!
Never go into any meeting without a plan for what things you want to discuss and accomplish. This plan doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time; it can just be a few bullet points that you have jotted down in your notebook. The important part isn’t what form the output takes; it is forcing yourself to have a plan for the meeting.
Hidden agendas don’t serve anybody, especially when you are hiding your agenda from yourself. Having a plan for your meeting will prevent you from wasting the time of all of the participants. As an added bonus, having a plan will help you feel and appear more confident. Bonus points if you share your agenda with all of the participants ahead of time!
Do you have a meeting scheduled with your coach, mentor, or some other partner? Do you have a plan for that meeting? Is your agenda ready?
Are you ready to be a PM Believer?
Despite their overwhelmingly negative reputation, meetings are a critical tool for getting projects to the finish line. But, meetings have to be planned and executed correctly, lest they become wastes of time. This applies to the meetings you have outside the office too. Do you have a hidden agenda? Let’s get it into the open!
How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at OperationMelt.com and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.
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Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.
About Operation Melt
Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.