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Using Status Update Meetings

A friend and I were talking on MSN today about the challenge of managing updates for tasks that you have delegated to people. He was telling me that it can be very hard not to want/need constant updates.

I can understand how you can feel this way – especially with junior staff or people you don’t 100% trust to complete a task within the required constraints (both quality and time). The challenge is that harassing people for updates can very detrimental to the confidence and productivity of a team member. Not to mention that it shows a big lack of trust in a member of your team.

Status Meetings are great tool for (project) managers / leads to help them maintain a good feel for the progress and quality of your project.

Another meeting? I can already hear you complaining about yet ANOTHER meeting. Status meetings don’t have to be long and gruesome. They can be (and often work best as) 5 minute huddle first thing in the morning where the team looks over the project plan/gantt chart and adjusts the % complete and time required for their tasks.

One of the important things when doing this is not to make the focus be on the tasks that are falling behind. Instead, keep it about the goals that are met and planning so downstream goals can be met. As people start working on their tasks, there should always be some amount of refinement to the time estimates for tasks. A good project manager will have built enough slack into the project that such refinements (in either direction) should be manageable.

Of note – setting up a regularly scheduled meeting is quite different than calling so-and-so in for an update every day. Regularly scheduled meetings, especially when everyone is involved, is FAR different than being called into the boss’ office for an update. I know, you’re saying “duh”, but I’ve actually seen a team lead call people into his office for irregular updates. The first thing that people end up thinking is “what did I do wrong”.

With the right focus, status meeting can be postitive events, where goals met are celebrated, that can actually increase morale and productivity.

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