Weekly or regular leadership calls – What are they and why are they so important

Weekly or Bi-Weekly calls are regularly timetabled calls or in-person meetings (or a combination of both) to communicate all the relevant information and updates related to a project that a team are working on. The weekly project meeting is exclusively for the project team itself and differs from a stakeholder meeting which has less regularly, perhaps monthly and is mainly aimed for management who are stakeholders in the project.

This is a critical part of the arsenal of utensils that a project manager can use to control and highlight important elements of a project and to ensure that what needs to be is done and by the relevant person. It is also used to see where there are project blockers and to see what they are and what actions are required to resolve them.

What are the main discussion points and what does the project manager want to achieve in the weekly call? Some of the main areas that will be covered are as follows:

  1. Scope analysis – is the project staying on track and developing the solution based on the requirements outlined? What is the quality of the development (defect quantity)? Is the project staying within the agreed scope as per the agreed business requirement document or are the business trying to include further items?
  2. Project schedule update – Is the project on track, behind or ahead of schedule?
  3. Task review – For each of the project tasks and sub tasks that are contemporary where are we at? Is it completed, near completion or behind schedule? What can be done to bring late tasks back on track?
  4. Issues – Issues that are current or issues that are on the horizon – these could relate to resourcing issues e.g. unforeseen absence of key project team members, scope changes requested by business leads, project risks etc.
  5. Project next steps.

The weekly meeting may need to become Bi-Weekly based on how intricate or difficult the project is, the amount of information that needs to be discussed (task, issues etc) and the number of team members that are involved in the project.

What can go wrong?

Regular leadership meetings can often go off the rails. Why is this so and what are the main contributors?

  1. Poor time management of the meeting
  2. Allowing the weekly meeting to become a training exercise as opposed to a task allocation and decision-making process
  3. Project manager not maintaining control and allowing the discussion to veer off the subject
  4. Project team members turning up late, not prepared or not at all
  5. Project manager not handling the to-do list of the project effectively

In order that the regular meeting doesn’t go wrong the Project manager needs to maintain control, act as a Project Leader and not just a Project Manager. They also have to set a clear agenda and communicate this ahead of time and impress on the team members to be prepared and ready to address their action items. Have a clear escalation strategy where team members are not attending the project call or not completing their project tasks. They have to ensure the meeting stays relevant and is expedited in a timely manner to keep the team engaged and motivated.

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