Categories: Best Practices, Career Help, Communication, Facilitation, Human Aspects of PM, New to Project Management
“Abigail” popped by the Ask the Expert booth to see me yesterday (day 1). Abigail is a fairly new project manager; she has worked on a number of project teams – but only recently was put in charge of a project with all remote team members.
On a team meeting call last week, Abigail and two team members called in from one location while four other team members called in from two other locations. The team was trying to solve a particularly knotty problem and were pretty vocal about how the problem occurred and the best way to solve it. Abigail shortly lost control of the meeting. It got contentious and there were arguments, blaming, and side conversations going on – not just in Abigail’s location but also another location where three members were calling in. One poor team member calling in from her home office was very quiet (probably because, as Abigail noted, she couldn’t get a word in edgewise!) Abigail never got control of the meeting and it ended within 45 minutes with no decision made on solving the problem and no plan to move forward. Since then, the problem has been solved by the sponsor who gave the team a solution to implement.
Abigail asked how she could have managed the situation.
What Could Abigail Have Done?
Abigail could have started with her own location and asked everyone to stop the side conversation and remain quiet. She then could stop the meeting and ask everyone to minimize the side conversations as they are distracting and don’t enable for full participation. She should also remind them that they are a team and pushing blame back and forth would not solve the problem.
Once she got everyone quieted down, Abigail can “reset” the meeting, ensure understanding of the problem and reiterate the goal to solve it in a collaborative way for the good of the project. She might use a “round robin” approach, calling on each individual to share their thoughts on the problem. By using a “round robin” approach, each team member will be able to share their ideas and thoughts and then more easily come to a collaborative solution.
What are your challenges? Stop by the PMI Ask the Expert booth in the Exhibit Hall at the Congress and meet with one of the experts. #PMICON18