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How to Run a Team Status Meeting

February 25, 2010

Team status meetings are different from project status meetings. Project status meetings are typically run by a project manager; the attendees are from different functions reporting to different managers. Team status meetings are run by the manager of a team; the attendees all report to that manager.

Use a Template

While each team status meeting may have a different point, the structure should be the same. That way, people will know what to expect each week, and you’ll be able to put together and run these meetings more efficiently.

Here’s an example of a template you might try:

  • Organizational news/announcements impacting the team
  • Team accomplishments (publicly recognize people here)
  • What’s on the horizon (upcoming target dates and events)
  • Topic of the week (e.g., a change initiative)
  • Questions/Thoughts/Comments (ask people if they have any concerns or if they see any issues that could impact the team)

Don’t use a roundtable format for this meeting.

Do the work ahead of the meeting

The best way to prepare for a team status meeting is to do the work ahead of the meeting throughout the week. Start a Powerpoint document using your meeting template and type in notes as things happen. If an e-mail is relevant to your team, jot down a quick summary or paste a piece of it into your meeting document. As you attend meetings throughout the week, jot down relevant points. As you have conversations with others, note anything that makes sense to present to your team. You’ll be surprised at how much information you gather and remember this way.

To gather effort and task status, find a tool that your team can use to record their updates throughout the week. Don’t try to do this in this meeting. More on this in an upcoming post.

Set aside some time the day before the meeting to organize your thoughts. This is similar to synthesizing and analyzing notes from a brainstorming meeting. Start grouping items logically across slides. Apply your insight and interpretation here. Frame information in terms of the message you’d like to convey for this meeting.

Just before the meeting, review your meeting document and make your final revisions.

When you prepare this way, you should be able to finish the status meeting in about 40 minutes. Schedule it for an hour just in case there’s extended discussion on a particular topic, but try to end this meeting early. It’s not your job to fill an hour of time; your job is to direct and lead your team.

Status meetings are your best leadership instrument

Don’t view status meetings as a mechanism for you to get information about your team so you can present it in *your* manager’s status meeting. This is a waste of your time and your team’s time.

Status meetings enable you to build trust between you and your team as well as within your team. This is the forum to highlight people’s accomplishments and skills. This is where you can nurture mutual respect within your team. This is where you can do your part to break cycles of distrust within the organization.

Status meetings also show your team that you respect their time. When you put effort into preparing a meeting, it shows. It becomes a valuable part of the team’s week, something they can almost look forward to. You become an example of what you expect from them.

Leading takes time. It’s a process that requires continuous reinforcement and adjustment. It requires a constant drum beat — the team status meeting is your drum.

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