The Executive MeetingsMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
The importance and frequency of meetings with Senior Executives raises rapidly as a Project Manager raises through the ranks and in experience. Meetings are the key, especially for the Senior Executives, to get aligned with project progress and to devise further strategy around that. The Senior Executives always term the Project Managers as their eyes, so in order to see through their eyes, they should have these meetings.
How does an executive meeting differ from other meetings? It is not that just the most important and highly paid people are participating but also they are who can make things happen most conveniently and effectively. I have previously discussed the different aspects of “Effective Meeting”. The effective meetings are all of those things and even much more than that.
The executive meetings are much more sophisticated than any other meeting as they are more focused and to-the-point. The reason for this is that not only is it not feasible to engage all senior resources in one activity but also the level of experience and vision they add to those meetings.
The other main aspect of an Executive Meeting is that the participants are generally the personals, directly or indirectly, related to financials and they are focused on Milestones and relate that to the financial transactions. That is the reason the Project Managers generally focus on two main questions during such meetings:
- What will be completed?
- When will it be completed?
Other than that the Project Manager’s focus is on sharing the challenges and issues in completing the work and to seek support from senior management for that purpose.
For a good Project Manager, the executive meeting is more of sharing the different issues and potential risks, in order to discuss possible solutions for them. The Project Manager should divide his part into 3 main items to keep the meetings more focused;
- Problem Statement
The Project Manager should list down the problem statement of all the issues/risks and a short description so all are aware about the issues/risks and able to understand the reasons behind that.
In my experience, this is the area in which the Senior Management is most interested in and focuses more. So that is the reason it needs to be just right. Don’t make it too long but at the same time it should be able to cover all the necessary information.
- Proposed Solutions
One thing that senior management likes about a Project Manager or any other resource is that he/she always has some suggestions regarding the issues that he/she has highlighted. This is one of the most important indications about a resource that he/she is moving in right direction to develop into a senior role.
The proposed solutions allows the senior management to make decisions by either choosing one of the suggested options or suggest something of their own. It is always much more innovative when senior management suggest something and add to the proposed solutions rather than making all the decisions by themselves.
- Agreement on Action Items
One the issue is discussed and possible solutions are put on the table, there will be one solution on which there will be agreement as an action item. The Project Manager should get signoff/agreement on the strategy to handle the issue and share the agreed action items. The action items will also serve as part of the agenda items for the next meeting to review the progress and any other issues.