Who called this meeting, anyway?

Often, when the completion of a task or deliverable is needed, a meeting is a good way to establish mutual understanding of the way forward. With many resources working remote these days, effective meetings are taking on even greater importance.

An effective meeting comprises the right mix of technical expertise, project management and project sponsorship.

However, a project manager is often the resource tagged with calling a meeting. This is the “push” model for getting things done, especially where the project manager may lack technical expertise or understanding of priorities. Certainly, the PM can provide the “push”, as long as they’re not “pushing on a rope”. Alternatively, we can consider a ‘pull’ model as follows:

In previous articles, we discussed project governance and resource management and established a core team leader as a key resource role for a given function. The core team leader (CTL) “knows what to do” in their area of expertise and can therefore more effectively provide the “pull”.

Therefore, when it comes to effective meetings, the CTL can:

  • Invite the right resources (generally core team or cross-functional team members)
  • Ensure we’re not inviting the wrong resources (and subsequently avoid wasting time tying them up in a meeting)
  • Provide technical leadership (since they know what to do in their area of expertise)
  • Elicit the assistance of a project manager to record & delegate tasks, identify deliverables apply process mapping tools (ideally, any project management or process improvement discipline).

Another important consideration is…how might the meeting notice be perceived by the team members? A meeting starting with “here’s the problem, and here’s what I think we need to do” is a much better way to start a meeting whenever possible.

It would therefore be better to call a meeting (and kick-off the meeting) with the subject matter expert or sponsor who knows what the problem is, who to invite, and generally know the way forward to a solution. This also aligns with the goal of developing functional excellence. Meanwhile, the project manager and functional manager can provide everything the CTL needs to be successful.

Certainly, leadership at the working (meeting) level can be shared between a PM, CTL and sponsor in their respective areas of expertise. However, a meeting called by a CTL or even better by a project sponsor (especially a kick-off meeting for a large work effort) means the “pull” is there, gives team members greater confidence right from the start the work effort is important, is a high priority, has sponsorship and the supports the goal of subject matter functional excellence.