It can be challenging for a project manager to rate their own productivity during a meeting, but the risk of avoiding self-reflection can be costly. Every month, people spend an average of 31 hours in unproductive meetings and the U.S. spends $37 billion dollars on salaries for wasted meeting time. Therefore, a project manager must examine their own productivity in a critical light.
Honesty is essential when rating meeting productivity but who doesn’t want to give themselves top marks? The following are a few ways to stay on track and hold effective meetings that will get you closer to a 10/10.
Assess the Current Productivity Level
If you’re not sure where to begin, the best place to start isn’t yourself. You can send out a general poll to your team so you have a base number in mind. Ask them to rate their feelings about meeting productivity on a numbered scale (think 1-10). This can be followed up by a more detailed survey after the meeting—but this will give the project manager an easy starting point.
State the Agenda
Sending attendees an agenda in advance ensures the meeting stays aligned with objectives. Stating the goal in the first 5 seconds of a meeting can actually shave off about 17 minutes of wasted time. Don’t wait until 15 minutes in to announce the meeting objective. The earlier the better. A group e-mail the day before is one of the best practices that successful project managers use to hold effective meetings.
Timing is Everything
The start and end times of a meeting must be clearly stated and upheld. If a project manager is aware they often run over, perhaps assigning someone to carefully watch the time and remind them when there are 2 minutes left will work best. Some successful project managers approach meeting management with an obscure time frame, like 23 or 42 minutes just to keep people on their toes.
Keep It Small
Meetings don’t need to include everyone and in fact, every single voice is another distraction if they add nothing to the objective. Google caps their meetings at 10 attendees and Amazon has a “two pizza” rule that states a meeting should never be bigger than what 2 pizzas can feed. Only inviting essential personnel is a good tactic to staying productive.
Pens and paper are fine for notes. Technology can serve as one of the greatest distractions in any meeting. Therefore, if possible, it is best to ban laptops, tablets and smartphones to facilitate meeting productivity. PowerPoint is also relatively passé these days in terms of genuine meeting effectiveness.
When the meeting is over, the project manager should be asking the right questions to fine tune their meeting management approach. Query your team to rate the overall meeting productivity again and compare notes from the base number. Has it gone up or down? This is a start to understanding effectiveness and how to make changes accordingly.
Some quick questions a project manager can ask their team after a meeting include:
- Did you feel heard? Was everyone else heard?
- Was everyone an honest and active participant?
- Did we meet the objective and get to the bottom of the issue?
If you are finding lower productivity ratings than you’d like, ask for open and honest answers. An opportunity for anonymous feedback can also encourage people to give a difficult opinion. Maintaining meeting productivity is about leadership, organization and follow up. When a project manager doesn’t rate their productivity honestly, they only do themselves a disservice. Successful projects cannot happen without productive meetings.
With the right set of project management tools, it is possible to eliminate some meetings altogether. With tools that enable project managers to easily assign action items and collaborate with others while also providing access to real-time information and reporting, project managers may find that they no longer have to continuously follow up with their team.