Project Status Meeting Best Practices | Project Management Training

Tips to Improve Your Project Status Meeting

Dear Dana,

I’m a new project manager and I’ve been having sporadic project status meetings with my team, but they’re NOT WORKING.  Every project status meeting turns into a big vent session, and I’m not really getting the information that I need.  Most people seem to just call in to say “everything is fine” while others insist they have a schedule conflict and can’t participate.  Please share tips I can use to improve our next project status meeting!

Julie in Lexington

Dear Julie,

In a word, YES!  There is help.  Let’s explore a few things you can begin doing immediately to enhance the effectiveness of your status meetings.

  • Get the team to agree to a regularly scheduled time for your status meetings (e.g. Mondays 9:00 – 10:00, every other Tuesday 2:00 – 4:00, etc.). Don’t try to schedule them sporadically.
  • Emphasize the importance of attending status meetings and discuss the procedures around missing a meeting (e.g. submitting status information to you prior to the meeting, sending a substitute, etc.)
  • Clarify EXACTLY what information you want each team member to provide during the status meeting. One of the easiest ways to do this is by developing a brief project status update form (typically includes schedule/budget/quality variance, potential risks, and issues).  Insist that team members complete the form prior to the meeting.
  • Let the team know that vague terms like “soon, asap, costly” are not sufficient for status updates. Instead, each team member should quantify/specify as much as possible (e.g. within 3 days, 2 defects, $50,000, etc.)
  • Develop a ground rule that anyone who voices a complaint must also suggest a solution. Develop a habit of asking the “venter” to take an action to identify potential solutions or next steps for the issue and provide an update during a future meeting.
  • Don’t allow team members to just report “everything is fine”. Press them for specific feedback on tasks, schedule, budget, quality levels, customer interactions, technology performance, etc.
  • Insist on having team members update the status of their action items or tasks in the appropriate spreadsheet/database before the action item/task due date.
  • Post a Risk List in the project war room (or on a Powerpoint slide if meeting virtually). Ask each person to document any potential risks on a bright pink post it and post it on the Risk List prior to the start of the meeting.

This video provides additional tips to improve project status meetings.  For more information on project management or facilitation skills training, contact us.