Today, I would like to talk about a basic topic: knowing the objective of a meeting. Meetings remain an essential part of projects. Whether they are traditional meetings, teleconferences, or virtual meetings, you will need to talk to various persons. Yet meetings can have a bad reputation. They can be viewed as a big waste of time. And indeed, some of them are. I am sure we all can share bad experiences of useless meetings.
So you can easily find articles on the web giving advice on how to organize and facilitate effective meetings. These articles will often cover the same key recommendations: establish an agenda and know the objective of the meeting. What you may not realize though is that every meeting has at least one additional objective hidden within it.
The Technical Side of a Meeting
Having an agenda is definitely a good practice. It is also important to know how to chair a meeting to ensure the agenda is followed. An agenda is just a piece of paper if nobody is managing the meeting. I have seen meetings fail because of a lack of defined objective and agenda. I have also seen meetings fail with a good agenda and nobody managing the meeting.
And then beyond the agenda and chairing the meeting, it is also important to have good facilitation skills. This is an important aspect of leadership you need as a project manager to achieve success. Why? As a project manager, you need to be able to ensure conversations are constructive and help moving forward the project.
This is the technical side of a meeting:
- A clear agenda: setting the topics and their objectives for the meeting
- Managing the meeting: someone must chair the meeting
- Facilitating the discussion
However, I would like to invite you to see beyond these elements. As a project manager, you are managing relationships with many stakeholders. As a leader, these relationships are precious and must be developed and nurtured.
The Relationship Objective in Meetings
A core thing to achieve is to build trust. It is essential that you become more than a name on an email, more than the project manager listed in the project charter. In the end, it is all about trust.
To me, project management is more than being a taskmaster. The technical part is important, but we can do more. Project management should be viewed as a strategic tool to help organizations succeed. Ultimately, we should aim to be trusted advisors. And trust is built by building relationships. And meetings enable us to build those relationships.
So when you plan your meetings and their schedules, I invite you to think beyond the agenda. You are also building relationships and trust. This is the second, understated objective of meetings.
As you lead your project, this will help you navigate the various issues and challenges more effectively.
For more brilliant insights, check out Michel’s website: Project-Aria