With the start of fall and a new football season, we can't help but notice the similarities between kicking off football and kicking off new projects. The contracts have been signed, hands shaken, and you’re now officially hired to lead a new project. Get ready to roll up your sleeves — now the real work begins! Similarly to football, the success of a good project is determined by a productive kickoff meeting. Setting the right tone from the get-go can make or break your project. So time to huddle up and go for a touchdown by following our 10-step project kickoff checklist. Go team, go! Want to improve collaboration on your team? Start a 2 week trial of Wrike today! You can share this infographic on your site with this copy-and-paste embed code: Infographic brought to you by Wrike Read Next: How to Combat the 4 Main Sources of Scope Creep The 3-Step Guide to Choosing the Right Project Management Methodology 6 Steps to a Foolproof Project Plan
Let's be honest: meetings su-- ahem, aren't fun. We've all been there: trapped around a conference table, air conditioning set to "arctic blast," listening to a manager's endless monologue about customer acquisition strategies or abstract quarterly goals. At best, you might get a free pastry. At worst, it's an utter waste of your time. Here's the good news: it doesn't have to be this way. Meetings can actually be a useful way for colleagues to work together, overcome challenges, and generate exciting new ideas. Start following these simple tips to keep your meetings productive. 7 Tips for Better Meetings 1. Keep it short! 30 minutes max. You won't hold anyone's attention much longer than that. 2. Set clear expectations ahead of time. Include what will be covered and what preparation, if any, attendees need to complete beforehand. 3. Send meeting materials in advance. Agendas, slides, spreadsheets: let people review everything before the meeting starts. The meeting itself is for actually getting things done. 4. Stay punctual. Be respectful of your teammates' time by starting — and ending — when you say you will. 5. Encourage discussion. If someone's dominating the conversation, step in to redirect or ask for another person's opinion. 6. Stay focused. If a discussion veers off on a tangent, or turns into a dialogue between two people, table the conversation for a more appropriate time. 7. Record key ideas and action items. If your meeting produces genius ideas, what's the point if you don't capture them and ensure follow-through? Curious about exactly how much time and money is sunk into ineffective meetings every single day? (Hint: it's a lot.) Check out the infographic below for more details and stats, including the root causes of bad meetings and tips for keeping virtual attendees engaged. Source: Fuze Want a reputation for hosting awesome meetings people actually look forward to? Take a look at these 4 Simple Steps for the Perfect Meeting.
Let's play a game. Would you rather: A) Sit through an hour-long status meeting in a frigid conference room with no windows B) Pull out your own tooth with a rusty pair of pliers How many of you had to consider your actual preference for a moment? Ok, all joking aside, meetings may not be quite that bad. But sometimes it's close! With so much time spent — and often wasted — in business meetings, we looked to the experts for new tips on making meetings worthwhile. Share this infographic with your peers (or your boss... *cough cough*) on social media or using this embed code: Infographic brought to you by Wrike Say goodbye to bad meetings! Cut out needless meetings (and improve the ones you do have) with our infographic decision tree: Should We Have This Meeting?
Meetings. We love them. We hate them. And let's be honest: mostly the latter. For a lot of workers, meetings are synonymous with: "A boring, pointless waste of my time." To change that mentality, we need to change the way we approach our conference calls and boardroom gatherings. Here are four best practices to make sure every meeting counts: 1. Get rid of status update meetings FOREVER Allow me to start by being bold — status update meetings are a waste of your time. 10, 15 years ago, they may have been necessary to make sure everyone was on the same page. Today, we have team collaboration software like Wrike to share updates freely. No sitting in a cramped room at an inconvenient time of day. Everyone can check on the status of projects when its most convenient for them, and they'll never forget who said what. Ask questions and leave comments or feedback online instead of repeating yourself or getting incomplete answers during a conference call. Make your next meeting perfect: Only hold meetings if you want instantaneous, person-to-person collaboration and brainstorming. 2. Only involve the necessary people The biggest drain on your colleagues' precious time is to ask them to join a meeting they don't need to attend. If you set a precedent of only involving necessary parties, your colleagues will stop dreading "useless" meetings. Which means their engagement in your meetings will rise because they will always go in knowing they need to contribute to the gathering for work to get done. Make your next meeting perfect: When you create your list of meeting attendees, also write down tangible reasons they need to attend. More than just: "They're on the marketing team." Try reasons like, "They have prior experience with this type of project." 3. Create a goal-oriented agenda — and stick to it! Decide in advance what you want to accomplish by the end of the meeting — finish a customer email, come to a decision about the next website design, brainstorm ideas for a new conference. Turn those goals into an agenda and do not allow people to deviate in their conversation. Once you have accomplished all your goals, blow the whistle! The meeting is over! This will keep your meetings focused and purpose-driven. In line with only involving the necessary people, goal-oriented agendas make sure you don't waste anyone's time. Make your next meeting perfect: Focus! Go through your agenda in order, creating one solution after the next until you hit the bottom of the list. Bada-bing, bada-boom. Successful meeting. 4. End your meeting with "role" call Don't let the momentum die once you have left the (possibly virtual) room. End your meetings by creating next steps for everyone involved so they walk out of your meeting and jump right back into work. Before you adjourn your session together, ask each person for their action plan. You've just accomplished two things: created accountability by publicly confirming responsibilities, and made sure everyone ends the meeting on the same page. Make your next meeting perfect: As soon as the call is over, send out the list of next steps for every person involved in your meeting. After implementing these four tips, no one should walk out of your meetings thinking they have wasted their time. Have you rid yourself of status meetings and created goal-oriented agendas? Or do you have more advice for creating the perfect meeting? Help us out! We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Read next: 4 Problems with Virtual Meetings that You Can Fix Read next: Managing Remote Meetings
One of the basic fundamentals of managing a team is scheduling regular one-on-ones. These meetings are meant to check in on the individual and see what they're working on, right? Wrong. If this is how you are running your one-on-ones, you're not optimizing that time spent with your team members appropriately. One-on-ones shouldn't be treated as open-ended "office hours" for your team to come in and update you on ongoing projects (you shouldn't have to meet with them privately to know the status of a project), or gossip about office politics (that's for HR to handle). Instead, one-on-ones should be scheduled with a purpose—utilizing that time to discuss personal growth and give your team member your full, undivided attention. Treating the private time as a status update, or putting your team member on the spot to come up with abstract questions, can make the personal encounter ineffective. Why are one-on-ones important? One-on-ones have been ingrained in the managerial process for so long, it's easy to forget why we even have them in the first place. The purpose of a one-on-one is to build a trusting relationship amongst your team at an individual level, by devoting time to listen to their individual concerns and helping them grow and reach their personal objectives. As cliché as it sounds, this is how you differentiate yourself from being a boss to being a leader. It's easy to just sit down with the members of your team and go through what they're working on each week. But a leader uses this precious time to address personal concerns and discuss individual growth. Believe it or not, these occasional meetings set the standard for how work gets done on your team. It's as simple as this: if you trust your team, your team will trust you back. And that is the foundation of a healthy work relationship that leads to employee retention and higher engagement. What are we doing wrong? Simply put, bad one-on-ones are leading to disengaged employees, and these disengaged employees are leaving. You've probably heard the phrase, people leave managers, not companies. This is directly related to how managers are handling (or NOT handling) the issues and concerns brought up by their team. Gallup data reveals that around 60-70% of employees are simply not engaged at work—in other words, not working as hard as they could be—costing U.S. companies $450 billion annually in lost productivity. Victor Lipman, management author and former Fortune 500 executive, argues that disengaged employees and lost productivity are correlated to the relationship they have with their manager. "There’s no question that a chronically high level of employee disengagement represents both a failure of management and a fundamental challenge to it: a challenge to do what is needed to keep vast numbers of individuals interested in their work, feeling good about their organizations, and working as productively as they can," says Lipman. Does this sound familiar? If so, all is not lost. Holding consistent and effective one-on-ones can improve employee engagement by discovering what motivates your employees to work harder—both intrinsically and extrinsically. Outlining personal goals, talking through the steps to achieve those goals, and making a promise to reward hard work (and following through!) are all crucial to re-engaging your employees. 7 secrets for mastering your next one-on-one Secret #1 - Actually have them This may seem obvious, but there have probably been times where you felt like you didn't need a one-on-one and cancelled. It's OK to cancel them once in a while, but make sure you're having them often enough to discuss progress with each individual. Even if you believe there is nothing to talk about, your employee may think otherwise. If your employee has specific talking points they would like to bring up, do everything in your power to not cancel that meeting. Your team needs to know they're a priority to you, and you put that at risk by abruptly canceling your one-on-ones. Secret # 2 - Come prepared Having a one-on-one with no agenda just wastes everyone's time. Come prepared by building an agenda of topics you want to go over and questions you want to ask, leaving room for them to talk as well. Share this agenda with them prior to the session so they're aware of your expectations for the meeting and not caught off guard. This will show your employee that your meetings with them are a top priority and you put effort into making them successful. Secret # 3 - Record meeting notes If the conversation turns personal, steer clear of taking notes. Otherwise, write down the big items your employee brings up—especially if they require follow-up. Assign rough due dates to the follow up by saying, "I'll have an answer for you by the end of the week" or "Let's check in on that during our next one-on-one," so your employee knows that you will get to it by a certain date. Secret # 4 - Avoid gossiping If you're fairly close with your employee, it might be tempting to use this time to gossip about office politics or share company secrets with them. This is highly discouraged as it spreads negativity and is unprofessional. There is a reason why organizations aren't 100% transparent, and as a manager, it's your job to maintain the discretion of the company and only disclose information that is necessary for your employee to do his or her job. Secret # 5 - Establish OKRs Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), a performance measurement process made famous by Google, is an excellent way to track and measure success. OKRs are used to set aggressive goals and to outline the steps required to obtain those goals. They’re typically used to set quarterly goals, but can also be used for annual planning. You can set OKRs at the team and individual level, which make them a great talking point during one-on-ones. Discuss OKR progress and goals during this time, so your employee can make sure they stay on track. Encourage them to open up about their OKRs so you can gauge their workload: are they feeling overwhelmed? Do any projects need to be deferred due to an upcoming vacation? Are they running into any roadblocks? Learning this upfront allows you to address any problems early on so there's time to make adjustments. Secret #6 - Change up the setting No one's saying you need to sit down with your employee in a stuffy room with no windows. Switch it up a bit! If it's a nice day, go out for a cup of coffee or a walk. Michael Affronti, VP of Product at Fuse, claims his most productive one-on-ones were held outside the office. "Sometimes after meetings I would share the step count graphs from my Fitbit profile with my employees to celebrate that we hit funny milestones like 'longest meeting of the week in steps' or 'fastest meeting in mph,'" says Affronti. Secret #7 - Get feedback, don't give it There's a time and place for giving feedback, and dishing it out to your employees every week can feel overwhelming and hinder their confidence. Provide feedback when something big comes up or when they specifically ask for it, and always compliment them on a job well done. You always hear teachers learn more from their students than students learn from their teachers. The same can be true for managers. Try asking for feedback once in a while, but make sure you word it the right way. Asking, how am I doing? is vague and can make your employee feel uncomfortable about being honest with you. Try asking for feedback by referencing specific areas, such as: How can I help you reach your career goals? and What can I be doing better to help you in your job? This will show your team you are looking to improve as a manager just as much as they are as a team, and also that you care about their career trajectory. Putting it into practice One-on-ones don't have to be this boring, tedious, and awkward discussion you have with your employees each week. By putting a little bit of time into preparing for your one-on-ones and switching up the scenery every once in a while, you will see immense improvement in meeting productivity. Building a healthy work culture and retention starts by building trust amongst your employees. Putting effort into your one-on-ones and making your employees a high priority will boost overall mood and satisfaction across your team. Making those changes to improving culture and ensuring overall team happiness is what transforms a boss into a leader. FREE 1-on-1 Agenda PDF: Download our free agenda template that will show you exactly how to run your next meeting using the secrets from this post. Here's a link where you can download the PDF.