Advice for Junior PMs #13: Let your team do work…

Meetings, bloody meetings. How many times have you looked at your calendar, as a PM, to only be exasperated that you have 16 meetings in one day, and your main milestones are close to being late? How about 8 and you are dealing with major issues? And how many of these meetings have your primary team members as mandatory attendees?

Running the delivery/build phase of a project like this is a trap and a self perpetuating cycle. It’s a sure sign that your project is either moving too fast, has not given enough consideration for planning (either requirements elicitation, technical design, or user story grooming), or is generally understaffed.

“But I have milestones to achieve and deliverables to complete!” I hear you say.  I understand; we all have top down pressure to complete projects faster with less resources.

meetings-no-working

Scheduling multiple meetings every day is not a good way to help you move faster… It’s a very good way to slow work down, though.  I see Junior PMs do this all the time, and then get frustrated that no work is getting done.

So how do you break this vicious cycle?

  1. Understand your team’s capacity – a lot of system delivery projects have one team doing most of the work.  Really understand how much work they can take on at any given time before committing to getting work complete.
  2. Finish one thing at a time – scheduling multiple deliverables to complete at the same time is a sure fire way to lose focus on everything and slow work down. Get one thing done before moving on to the next.
  3. Break your project down into smaller chunks – by doing so, you can reinforce items 1 and 2 above.
  4. Set expectations accordingly – the number 1 job of a project manager is expectations management.  Your customers, sponsor, and team should all be on the same page far as priorities and delivery pace are concerned. If you can’t meet the pace, get more people and delegate task management accordingly.
  5. Stop scheduling so many meetings – you should have less meetings.  Figure out how to give your team their working time back, and they will get more work done.

When in doubt, stop work, circle the wagons, and figure out your design/plan/goal for the next package of work.  It will save your sanity and help your delivery pace in the long run.

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