“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Abraham Lincoln
However – getting clarity on goals can be the issue – particularly when in a project setting where there are multiple teams or organisations brought together to achieve a specific assignment.
Meetings, when done well, are great places to set goals: reach consensus, make decisions, brainstorm, resolve issues, share important updates, and achieve team building.
Meetings, when done badly, can create confusion, angst and set a project backwards rather than forwards.
An effective project kick-off meeting can set-up success for an entire project. It gets people inspired and motivated to work together to achieve or exceed project goals.
Often the project manager is not the best person to facilitate such a meeting. They may be better placed to participate in the meeting and be immersed as part of the team – letting a third party facilitator ensure the meeting achieves specific goals. A third party facilitator is someone with no vested interest in the project but who is skilled in creating a meeting where all stakeholders are engaged and get on-board the project.
A good facilitator is able to stay above any biases to stay on task. They address the elephants in the room and draw on all voices. A good facilitator adapts, adjusts, and connects to the participants while bringing them forward as one to achieve the meeting goal.
An expert facilitator draws on many techniques and skills at different times in a meeting depending on what is required for the group. The agenda, always fluid, allows for the opportunity to spend time on expanding ideas or diminishing conversation all while keeping a focus on the goal of the meeting.
The effective facilitator knows: when to be forceful and when to be quiet; when to focus on the big picture or the detail; how to solicit information from some or many; what to intervene on and what to let go.
They do this by reading the situation of the meeting and its participants; by listening and observing; managing conflict and sometimes creating chaos to solicit ideas; by summarising and organising information; being flexible yet on task.
A great facilitator leaves the meeting with participants wondering what they were doing there!
The results of good facilitation for a project kick-off meeting or any other are that ownership is created, people are inspired and engaged and clear about the way forward for project delivery.
An ineffective kick-off meeting can set-up an expectation and group culture of little accountability and diminished responsibility potentially resulting in poor project outcomes. However it’s never too late to get the team back on track if you are a project manage experiencing frustrations with team cohesion.
As an expert facilitator, Vickie Burkinshaw can work with teams who are at all levels of project development. While the preference is to come in at the Kick-off stage the team can get back on track if you are further advanced.
Contact Vickie to find out how she can help.