10 Steps toward Effective Team Meetings

Hoping that your team meetings are this effective.
Hoping that your team meetings are this effective!

As project managers, communication is 99% of our job. We are always communication with a focus and to create value. In my managing projects, project managers are leading and guiding the project and the stakeholders to move in a certain direction. In order for that to take place, there has to be some buy-in by stakeholders. Therefore, group meetings both in person and in conference calls are crucial.

Based upon my training and experience, I would suggest the following 10 key principles in maximizing this endeavor:

1) Know your stakeholders as well as possible. What do they do every day? Their pain points? What makes them want to work harder and faster?

2) Make time for one-on-one interaction outside of a conference call or group setting. People always seem to act differently in groups than in individualized settings.

3) Listen for tone and non-verbal ticks. We all emote in different ways. This emoting can come out in a raised voice, flipped accident, a stutter, and it is easy to do given the proper circumstance.

4) Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. It shows that you care about the people on the team and their time in addition to being part of your role.

5) In group settings, be sensitive to the mood of the team and the time of those involved. Your agenda may be important, but it may not make sense to cram it into an hour. A joke or a helpful anecdote may be a nice introduction to your discussion.

5) When managing meeting, be sure that you are guiding the discussion away from tangents. Kindly address those with concerns by suggesting a one-on-one conversation to discuss their particular issues.

6) In your group interactions, do not tolerate bad attitudes or treatment during that time as it can spoil the efforts of the team in that time. I experienced this issue recently and was a bit perturbed to learn that multiple efforts had been made to assist the participant with their communicated plight.

7) Make sure that you recap what each person is accountable to perform as a result of your discussion together. In addition to providing a reminder of the discussion particulars, it gives everyone a sense of purpose and accomplishment when leaving the meeting.

8) Allow yourself some latitude to be human in these meetings. As a project manager or leader, you are asked to do a lot. There will be items that you cannot find the time to discuss or a way to resolve during the time allotted. That is ok! There is always another occasion to do so if it is important. Your stakeholders or team will want to work with someone who has initiative along with a realistic understanding of how things work.

9)Do what you can to avoid interrupting people. People matter.

10) Enjoy the interaction with these people and the opportunity to create something new from your efforts together.

These 10 tips should be helpful when conducting your team meetings or project meetings. I would welcome your feedback and additional findings.




Leaders Who Overcommunicate…

Picture from London Fashion Week 2014
Overcommunication? – London Fashion Week 2014 – Instagram – Pic of the Day 2-13-2014

As a project manager, we are told, trained, tested, and tried on the presumption that 99% of our job is communication. My customers are two global customers. Therefore, communication is warranted in all sorts of ways throughout a given day. I desire to fuel and motivate focused activity in a particular direction. However, is there ever such a thing as overcommunicating?

In your daily life, you are communicating via various forms (phone, email, personal contact) to provide information. You are performing physical activity to demonstrate priority and focus on said activity. At that point, you may not have said a word, but did you communicate? If you speak while you work while training a son or daughter on some aspect of their chores or family activity, is that overcommunication?

In my own mind, the answer is a resounding no! Instead, I would suggest the following ways that we should lead in our spheres of life:

1) Carefully craft the content of our message (in deed, word, or picture). In that endeavor, make sure that your content is appropriate and helpful to those to who you are communicating to.

2) Use the proper media for the corresponding recipients and environments.  Some people learn and respond to information differently.

3) Be sensitive to the timing of your message. I am still learning this skill with my wife. I like to think that I am getting better at it.

4) Once, you have communicated your message. Let there be a sense of white space or pause so that priority and weight of the message are understood and received. Sometimes that does mean that we need to be quiet. Other times, it means that we lay off the email and pick up the phone a few days later to work through some tough situations.

5) Allow your intended target to respond in a meaningful course of time and space. Don’t interrupt and don’t try to anticipate their specific response in the conversation unless it is truly necessary. I am not suggesting that active listening is not in order. In fact, I would consider listening some form of active communication though you may never say a word.

Therefore, as you move to the next blog or conversation or email, please consider that you are always communicating. Implement these ideas so that you can add value to those people around you in that communication of ideas, principles, and care.

Remember, you are changing someone’s world just by your presence in it!



So You Got Your PMP…Now What?

I would imagine that most folks are a little lost or wonder struck upon receiving word that you have passed the PMP examination. I remember walking out of the test at my local Sylvan test center with a foggy head along with a little relief.  However, after a week of congratulations from others, I wanted to know what do next.

I knew that my job would educational, but I also knew that I wanted to learn from other project managers (PMs) and best practices to better help my customers and my company. If you remember your application guide on PMI.org, you are required to complete 60 PDUs (professional development units) by three years from completion of your test. Subsequently, I have been able to learn and grow through learning opportunities and get credit for those opportunities.

There are a number of ways that you can get your PDUs and here are my top 4 suggestions:

1) Purchase a membership to the Project Management Institute (PMI). It currently costs $139. A renewal is $129. When you join PMI, you have access to the following:

  • Lots of free webinars for different kinds of project management topics
  • PM Network magazine – very informative magazine about the larger projects and trends in the industry (you can get 12 PDUs per cycle from reading this monthly online periodical). I have the app on my Android.
  • Discounts on materials and standards communication.

2) In addition to the PMI, you may join the local chapter in your area for an additional fee. The local chapters often have monthly meetings that provide networking and/or learning opportunities. The chapter in my area has monthly dinners and local training opportunities several times a year.

3) If you want to specialize in parts of the discipline or other standard business certifications (Six Sigma certifications among others), I would pursue additional classwork or online training to pursue additional certification. Some of this work can count as PDUs towards keeping your PMP and improving your professional toolkit in project management.

4) Please be sure to participate in the International Project Management Day in November every year. The International Institute for Learning (www.iil.com) puts on a day of virtual webinars that can be viewed for 30 days after you log in. There is an opportunity for nearly 20+ PDUs through this event alone. They are particularly interesting and provide lots of new resources and contacts who can be of help.

Additionally, there are other more active ways to grow and learn through service and involvement within the PM community and the community at-large.  However, I am still discovering them.

Still exploring,


The 5 Ws of Getting PMP Certification

Are you ready to become PMP Certified?
Are you ready to become PMP Certified?

Let’s explore the 5 Ws of becoming a certified project management professional. Though you may want to do so, it is possible that this path is not necessarily for you…

Who and/or Why?

  • If you want to be a full-time project manager of some kind.
  • If you intend to manage projects inside of another functional job (i.e. logistics, sales, human resources, information technology) and the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) is not adequate from a job description or knowledge level.

Otherwise, I would bone up on your project management knowledge through various online and company resources.


The Project Management Professional certification requires completion of the following requirements:

  • Certain number of work hours in the 5 process groups of project management as indicated in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK).
  • Certain number of  completed hours in project management coursework by a recognized education provider (REP).
  • Completion of the PMP Examination


Once you have made a decision to pursue this certification,

  • Make a plan that provides time to take coursework and demonstrate work product within the project management discipline.
  • Plan to take Exam no longer than 1 month past completion of coursework. At some point, the studying reaches a point of where marginal benefits start to diminsh.


  • Start your application process by contacting the Project Management Institute (PMI) at PMI.org
  • Select your desired application process and follow the directions.
  • The online guide can be downloaded along with the application
  • You may also view registered education providers (REPs) where you can pay for education in project management.

Class Recommendations:

If you are not a project manager, but manage projects, here is what I did (I recommend it):


  • Go to your local community college and look for an online or onsite project management course.
  • After successful completion, I would suggest pursuing something more intense through an REP like ESI International or Cheetah Learning.  I completed two classes with ESI as a new project manager. I highly recommend them.

Study Materials:

  • You will need a copy of the latest edition of the PMBOK as mentioned before.
  • Please take a PMP Test Prep Class. There is some crucial material on the test that you would not necessarily get from your everyday work. It will literally get you for the way that the test is written.
  • In addition to the classes, look for guides with study materials and sample tests. Examples include Rita Mulcahy or Velociteach.
  • Buy some flash cards and drill on the project management processes, process groups, etc.

Study Sequence/Methodology:

  • Once you have read through the books and materials, make flash cards of all of the processes, process groups, management areas.
  • Work through the books and begin to answer the test questions in the reading (not the sample tests).
  • Once you are cleared to take the test and schedule it (and have paid for the exam), I would start taking the sample section tests as early as a month out from the test.
  • In the last week before the test, complete the sample tests as though you were in a test setting. It is recommended not to take them no more than 4 times.
  • After that, you will have hopefully retained and understood the material.

After the test, you will receive immediate notification of pass/failure and an indication of your strengths and weaknesses in a vague manner.

I hope that this information provides some guidance on how to pursue your PMP. However, as always make sure that you really want to pursue this avenue and make a realistic plan to get there.



How Whack-A-Mole Can Improve Your Productivity

Great post on how to think about and prioritize in the land of constantly changing urgencies!

Blanchard LeaderChat

Whack-A-Mole Have you ever played Whack-A-Mole, the classic arcade game?  You’ve got a padded hammer, and when a mole pops up, you whack it back down. The object of the game is to nail as many moles as you can before they duck back into the hole.

The moles don’t stay up for very long. As the game continues, two moles pop up simultaneously, then perhaps three, and eventually on opposite sides of the grid. In the end game, it gets crazy, because time is running out fast.

Does this remind you of your job? You have to move quickly to respond, sometimes without much real information.  You knock one mole down and two others pop up.  It’s always nuts close to deadlines. The more you do the harder it gets…

And how about that other player—obviously not as good a corporate citizen as you.  While you’re trying to whack as…

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