There are 3 fundamental rules with a Project Kick off meeting. And in order to abide by them, I recommend a pre-meeting meetings solution.
- Number one rule in a Kick off meeting: No surprises
The goal of a Kick off Meeting is to âreviewâ the project, because the attendees should already know about the project, theyâre there to get the gist of who else is there and how this is all going to work. So, there shouldnât be any surprises from you or from them. A series of pre-meeting meetings to get to know the team members before the Kick off meeting should have provided ample opportunity to answer questions, clarify any misunderstandings, and address any concerns.
- Number two rule in a Kick off meeting: Stay on track
So, since itâs just a review and nice get to know you meeting with the team, keep it on track â donât drag it out more than it has to be. Have an agenda and stick to it. Of course, build in an engaging activity to start the team building process, but donât drag it on longer than it needs to be. Start a project out on a long drawn out (and dare I say it, boring) meeting and youâll set the precedent, or at least the teamâs perception of your project meetings from here on out. Donât be known as âthat Project Managerâ.
- Number three rule in a Kick off meeting: You (the Project Manager) are not alone
The Project Manager should have a small core team surrounding them. The core team should be made up of key stakeholders, who are fully committed and engaged with the project and are responsible for the leadership of throughout the lifecycle of the project. They could be Project Support, the Technical Leads and/or a small number of key individuals who will be on the project for the duration. They will support the Project Manager during the project, be the sounding board for early and preliminary discussions and help ensure the project team stays engaged and focused.
The ideal would be to have the luxury of time to do one-on-one meetings with all the team members before the Kick off meeting. However, this may need to be forgone for the sake of time and urgency. If time permits, the first lot of pre-meeting meetings are on a one-to-one basis with each team member. Pre-meeting meetings ensures that each team member gets the time and attention they require to become familiar with the project idea, ask questions and have their input be heard.
Regardless of whether there were one-on-one meetings with each team member, the Project Manager should still host a pre-meeting meeting with the small core team. These key stakeholders are committed to and engaged with the project for the duration. The meeting will help clarify leadership goals and responsibilities for the project before the larger team Kick off meeting. If there are any surprises in the Kick off meeting, there will be a core within the team to handle them, not just the Project Manager.
Finally, the actual Kick off meeting.
One-on-one pre-Kick off meetings (time and urgency dependent)
- Project Manager meets individually with team members to get to know them
- Understand the team memberâs background knowledge about the project and provide an opportunity to fill in any gaps
- Understand the team memberâs situation and current circumstances
- Understand the team memberâs goals and motivations
- Understand the team memberâs current and upcoming commitments
- Understand the team memberâs strengths
- Understand the team memberâs weaknesses
- Understand the team memberâs interest areas
- Understand the team memberâs preferred communication methods
- Understand the team memberâs contact information â numbers, emails, times of days
- Understand the team memberâs work habits
- Understand the team memberâs connection to project goals
Small core team pre-Kick off meeting
- Introductions â a chance for the core team to get to know each other
- Icebreaker and team building activity
- Review Project Goals, agree on priorities
- High level review of the Project Plan / RACI â whoâs responsible for what / Milestones & key dates
- Discuss and agree communication responsibilities â decide who and how communications from the core team will be managed
- Discuss and agree leadership responsibilities within the core team
- Discuss and agree motivation techniques and resources for the project
- Discuss and agree conflict mitigation techniques and resources for the project
- Share contact information and communication preferences within the core team
- Define the support structure for core team, meeting schedules and communication expectations
- Prepare for the Kick off meeting and each personâs role and responsibilities for the meeting
Team Kick Off meeting â Project Manager hosts (subtly supported by the core team)
- Introductions â team gets to know each other
- Project Goals / Objectives
- Team building activity or game to engage the team with each other and the project (e.g., future focus exercise for team members to describe what they are doing one year after the âgo liveâ date and how the project played a role in their new life)
- Project Scope (whatâs in and whatâs out)
- Project Plan / RACI â whoâs responsible for what / Milestones & key dates
- Communications â within the team and to stakeholders
- Close and Next steps
- Meeting minutes
If you donât subscribe to the pre-meeting meetings strategy, what do you do instead?
Can Project Management really be fun?
ATTENTION London Project Managers:Â
13 July 2016 â 6.30pm â 1 Fore Street London EC2Y 9DT