Effective Status Meetings – How Can I Improve My Status Meetings?
Status meetings are periodically scheduled events at different levels in which information relating to a project is shared. When executed correctly, effective status meetings can create unity among teammates or colleagues based on shared goals. It also keeps all relevant stakeholders in the loop with regards the status of the project.
What seems simple in theory is, in fact, rather difficult to implement in reality. Poor planning combined with a basic lack of understanding leads to status meetings claiming the moniker of ‘most dreaded meeting of the week.’
But with a little preparation, status meetings improve collaboration between teams and teammates while curtailing unforeseen difficulties. Read on to pick up the necessary know-how to produce effective status meetings.
The Main Purposes of a Status Meeting
Typically following on from a Kick-Off meeting, status meetings can be incorporated as part of your project meetings. Status meetings are usually the most common format of meeting. Effective status meetings will cover:
- Monitoring the project
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Task updating
- Prioritisation of tasks
- Assignment of tasks
- Developing team dynamics
- Guiding teams towards intended goal
- Avoid any misunderstandings or alleviate any tension between teams
- Next steps
Despite the multitude of reasons for hosting a status meeting, they should remain concise and to the point. This can be difficult when incorporating so much into a short space of time, but there are tools you can utilise to assist you in keeping things short.
Depending on what the overall goal of your project is, the format of your status meeting can differ greatly from other status meetings. But there are some recommended courses of action anyone can take to ensure a status meeting runs smoothly and consistently.
- Create an agenda – the importance of an agenda cannot be understated. Bizarrely, 63% of meetings operate without an agenda. Circulate the agenda before your status meeting, this encourages attendees to remain attentive, knowing the end of the meeting is in sight. Once you’ve found an agenda that fits well, stick to this format. This also aids attendees’ contributions to the meeting as they know what to expect each meeting.
- Prepare a status update form – to save time during your status meeting, create a status update form and share it with all task managers prior to your meeting. Ask them to complete the form and return it during the meeting. Alternatively, you could email the status update form to all relevant stakeholders before the meeting, allowing for quicker meetings.
- Assign a timekeeper – avoiding unnecessary delays is crucial in maintaining any team’s productivity. Once meetings run over their allotted time, productivity plummets. So before your meeting, assign a timekeeper to make sure each topic receives the correct amount of time, no more, no less.
After your agenda has been shared with the attendees and a timekeeper has been allocated, you’re ready to move on to the meeting itself. The order of effective status meetings usually looks as follows:
- Review minutes and action items from the previous meeting.
- Acknowledge your position in relation to the beginning and end of the project.
- Updates from task managers and general dissemination of information.
- Assess any open or ongoing issues.
- Side-lined items for discussion.
- Action items.
All of the people who will work on the project should be in attendance. If you have a large project, it may be unfeasible to include everyone involved. In this case, limit invitations to colleagues responsible for those working on the project.
Everyone you invite to your status meeting should contribute to the meeting itself. Let people know why you’ve asked them to attend your meetings if it’s not immediately clear. Employees safe in the knowledge that they belong at the meeting table can allow for deeper engagement.
It’s also courteous to let your colleagues know that they do not have to attend the meeting if they don’t believe it’s relevant to them. There are those who see meetings as a status symbol, and to be involved in meetings means you’re important. For more information on this, check out our blog on the psychology of meetings.
Considering that everyone you’ve asked to attend your status meeting should have a vested interest in the content of the meeting, they should also all contribute to the meeting. An effective status meeting typically sees all participants associate their personal and team goals with the overall goals of the project or company.
In order to do this, all attendees must actively engage with what is being said (as well as what is not being said). To ensure this, rotate the discussion around the room. Allow for questions or concerns that other attendees may have, this allows for greater understanding and support across colleagues.
One technique to try out is preparing a maximum of 3 issues your team is facing. The 3 issues chosen should be pitched to the other meeting attendees in a bid for their help or advice. If strictly observed, this technique prevents meetings turning into what could be seen as a giant, public ‘to-do list’. An additional perk is that it shares relevant information about the project to your team. This broadens your teammates scope of the project.
Try and park any discussions that may be unrelated to the meeting. Your attendees should be fully aware of what’s to be discussed following the circulation of the agenda. Refer back to any irrelevant points made at the end of your meeting (if there is enough time). Otherwise, acknowledge the point, and refer back to it at a later date. For more tips on producing engaging meetings, check out our blog here!
Effective status meetings can make short work of any problem solving or idea generating that may be required from time to time. There is a multitude of ideation devices that can be utilised during your status meeting to create solutions. It can be difficult to choose the right exercise for you and your attendees, some trial and error is required. Here are some exercises we’ve found useful in the past that work well in meetings:
- Brainstorming – Brainstorming is ideal for problem-solving and allows for maximum interaction and engagement among your attendees. Take all views on board, there are no wrong answers in a brainstorm. Use sparingly, over-reliance on brainstorming will end up with a brainstorm session on what to brainstorm next.
- Brainwriting – If your brainstorming session isn’t generating the level of engagement you require, brainwriting is a great alternative. The project leader pitches the ‘problem statement’ while handing out a sheet with the problem statement displayed at the top. In silence, each attendee writes 3 solutions or ideas to the problem statement. After 5 minutes of this, everyone passes their sheet to the left. Everyone then writes 3 more ideas inspired by those already on the sheet. After several rounds, you should be left with dozens, possibly hundreds of ideas and solutions.
- Time-Boxing – If your team cannot reach a decision on a certain topic or is struggling to generate any solutions or ideas, declare that they have a certain amount of time to reach a conclusion or else you will park the idea and move on with the agenda. If this occurs, ask your team what they believe they need in order to reach a conclusion, make note of this and take action on it at a later time. –
- Best Worst Ideas – By asking your attendees for the worst possible solutions to your problem, you can help remove any lingering self-consciousness they may be harbouring. It’s a lot easier to come up with a bad idea than a good one, so you should generate plenty. Discuss these bad ideas, what could you do to make them good ideas?
Many companies still maintain that 9 AM Monday morning is the best time for a meeting. With this time, we’re left with ample time to complete any tasks set during the status meeting over the course of the coming week. Research is now starting to suggest that 9 AM is not the optimum time.
The issue with 9 AMs is that employees will have little time prior to the meeting to prepare. They’ll either have to prepare the evening prior or get in even earlier to prepare. Mondays are also too close to the weekend. There have been two days where your team hasn’t been engaging with their work, they’ll undoubtedly be slow getting off the mark.
Research from YouCanBookMe, a UK company that makes scheduling apps for businesses, suggests that Tuesday afternoon is the best time for a meeting. With Tuesday afternoon, there is time left in the week to take action on any decisions made. Your team should also still be fresh from the weekend and not too tired. Try aim for the 3 PM slot as employees can be lethargic after their lunch hour, so it’s best to avoid scheduling your meeting at exactly 2 PM.
Consider the employees attending your meeting, if your team consists of many young people (under 25) it would be best to host your meeting on Tuesday afternoon. If your team is a little older, it’s better to utilise the 10 AM time-slot. Check out our blog further discussing the best time to host a meeting.
Remote Meeting Tool
Ensure that those who are particularly relevant to your status meeting are invited. If they cannot physically attend the meeting, it’s best to utilise a remote meeting tool, like virtual meetings or conference calls. Check out our very own conference call solutions here.