Meeting Etiquette

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As a Project manager (PM) we will do a couple things a lot; attend and host meetings. In the early days of any project, there will be lots of opportunities to get together with various individuals or groups to discuss scope, schedule, funding, etc. Focusing on the building world, these meetings could be the early stages of vetting the need for a new building or a renovation to an existing one. In the last article the concept of project phases or process groups was discussed. Continuing with that theme, let’s look at all the meetings that we could be involved in.

During the initiating phase of a project the meetings can include the project sponsor, the project developer, members of the finance group or a specific management team. These meetings will be used to discuss the business needs and available funding so that we can fine tune our scope and schedule so that we can move into the planning phase.

In the planning phase, we will meet with internal and external project stakeholders who could include architects, engineers, designers and contractors. In this phase we could be involved in months of design and status update meetings where we take the project requirements and come up with a set of plans to build or renovate whatever the project sponsor requested.

Once our plans are complete we are ready to move into the executing phase and bring the plans to life. During this phase, we will have kick-off meetings, pre-construction meetings, vendor pricing and approval meetings, safety meetings and of course regular status update meetings.

The monitoring and controlling phase covers all the other phases, so the status update meetings will cover a lot of the monitoring and controlling activities.

The final phase is closing, and that will involve more status update meetings  , inspections and punch list walkthroughs which affectively mobile meetings are. These all wrap up with a final close-out meeting to make sure we have documented and delivered what the project goals were.

So, what did was apparent in the above summary? WE will be in a LOT of meetings!

The title of this article is “Meeting Etiquette”, so at some point we need to cover what that means. Since we will not host all the previously indicated meetings, we will be both hosts and guests and each comes with its own form of meeting etiquette. To kick it off, let’s cover the meetings we may host and what good meeting etiquette means for us. One thing that we all know is that etiquette is often a matter of personal beliefs and experience. Anyone can do a quick Google search on the term meeting etiquette and get lots of results – 39 million plus to be exact as of today.

 

 

 

 

 

So, what I plan to share is some common themes combined with my own personal experience and beliefs of what good meeting etiquette is when hosting a meeting. The number one thing to remember is that although this is your meeting, you will typically be inviting a group of other people that are probably as equally busy as you and you want them to engage and be a useful contributor while at your meeting.

You can make your meeting successful by following a basic list of rules:

  • Be on time
    • Heck, as the presenter, you better be early. What if your tech doesn’t work, the video remote is missing, someone is squatting in your conference room and motions to give them a minute? There are numerous things that can go wrong – get there at least a few minutes early so that when the meeting is scheduled to start, you are ready.
  • PREPARE for the meeting
    • This could be what determines the success of your meeting. Did you prepare an agenda? You have handouts? You test the conference line? Bring a power cord incase the meeting goes over your battery life? Been there – done that – Once!
  • Provide & follow an AGENDA
    • Provide an agenda ahead of the meeting, even if it is a basic bullet list. If you know more detail, then give as much info as you can so attendees know what they are there for. Send it out as soon as you can – you can update it as the meeting gets closer if necessary.
    • Once you have an agenda, follow it. If you can set time frames as part of the agenda, that is even better.
    • Where I work, Safety is #1, so every meeting starts with a quick Level One Safety brief, letting everyone know where the emergency exits are located, where any first aid and medical equipment are located, who will lead the group out in case of an emergency, who calls 911 and who can do CPR if necessary. This has proven to be useful as it saved a person in a meeting just this year.
    • Collect a roster if you have a larger group and be sure to get the remote callers info as well. This helps in follow-ups and being sure who was in attendance.
    • As the host, it is up to you to keep the meeting moving and on focus. If it gets a bit sidetracked, offer to hold a follow up call or meeting – you need to get through the base agenda items.
  • Define who is the LEADER or speaker
    • AS the host, you are most likely the leader, but you may have some key guest speakers. Even those that may speak up or have questions need to feel that they can complete their thoughts. Let everyone know that the speaker has the floor and to allow them to complete their presentation, question or thought.
  • STATE your name before speaking
    • Many times, meeting attendees will not have met one another or maybe on a conference call, it is hard to distinguish who is talking. By stating your name, it gives others a reference to who is speaking and allows the note taker to indicate who brought up a topic or solution.
  • Do a brief synopsis with some key takeaways at the end of the meeting and let everyone know that minutes will follow.
  • Provide Meeting Minutes
    • Do this as quickly as possible, while it is fresh in the minds of those that attended. My goal is to provide minutes no later than 24 hours from the time of the meeting and usually less. On some days, when the meetings are back to back this becomes a struggle, but we need to do the best we can.
    • In some cases, you may want to bring a team member along as an official note taker or record the meeting if it is an acceptable practice at your company. It will be hard to take good notes while answering questions and keeping everything on track and under control. When I do this, I still take a form of short hand notes so that I can compare them with what the note taker wrote or typed. You may have to go through a few team’s mate until you find someone that is in sync with you on what level of detail you desire.

In the end, because we spend so much time in meetings, where people must make a choice, they will prioritize what meetings they will attend. The better their experience, the more likely they will attend your meetings.

Just like hosting, when attending meetings, you can help make your host’s meeting successful, and get more out of it by following a basic list of rules:

  • READ the provided agenda
    • To be prepared, make sure you look at the provided agenda. Make sure if your name or group/team is listed in the agenda that you are prepared to cover your required portion of the meeting. If you didn’t get an agenda, it may be hard to know where the meeting may go.
  • PREPARE for the meeting
    • As in the previous statement, try to find out what the meeting is all about. Understand the importance of the meeting. Prepare in advance any notes or questions that you may have for the meeting topic being discussed. Be sure you bring a notepad and pen or pencil. No matter how good your memory is, most people cannot possible remember each and everything discussed during a meeting. A notepad helps in jotting down the important points for future reference.
    • Always keep your cell phone on the silent or vibrator mode. Cell phones ringing in the middle of meetings are considered rude and unprofessional. This is a huge distraction for others sitting in the same room and is really a simple thing to avoid. If you do have to monitor calls, keep it on vibrator mode and try not to set it directly on a hard surface table as it will often be just as distracting as a ringing phone.
    • Unless it is an emergency or a critical call, do not take phone calls during a meeting. If you must, apologize quietly and step out of the meeting room.
  • BE on time
    • Show up early if possible, but if you are delayed because of a previous meeting or activity, be sure to come in quietly, find an open seat, acknowledge the host and start listening.
    • Showing up early allows for some hand shaking and introductions that you may not get to do otherwise and of course you can choose your optimal seating placement.
  • RESPECT the leader or speaker
    • Don’t hijack the conversation from the speaker, whether it is the host or another attendee.
    • As you may swap the host and attendee roles, the respect you give of another people’s time will likely get you respect during yours.
  • STATE your name before speaking
    • Many times, meeting attendees will not have met one another or maybe on a conference call, it is hard to distinguish who is talking. By stating your name, it gives others a reference to who is speaking and allows the note taker to indicate who brought up a topic or solution.
  • MUTE your phone when not speaking
    • This is a basic conference call item that we all deal with on large calls – like monthly or weekly account updates. On some of these calls, there can be a 100 or more people and if a couple attendees do not have their phones on mute it can be HUGELY distracting.
    • Listening to people yawn, shuffle through a binder, slurp their coffee, etc. is so annoying when a simple press of the mute button ends it all.
    • Make sure you know where the mute button is and mute it as soon as you have introduced yourself and leave it that way until you need to speak.
  • FOCUS on the meeting (no multi-tasking)
    • The meetings you will attend are either to inform you of something or to get your input, but either way, you were invited for a reason.
    • Respect the host and the other attendees by not checking you email on your and cell phone laptop constantly.
    • Laptops are one of those items that are an often hotly debated item in meetings. Some, especially the newer generation do not take paper notes, they do it on their laptop. I get this, and if that was all they were used for that would be fine. I have sat in quite a few meetings where a person next to me is working on, emails, proposals or even Facebook.

Summary Thoughts:


Some people are unsure of the laptop etiquette when it comes to meetings, phone etiquette is usually understood, but I see way too many folks checking their email, texting or surfing when they should be focused on the meeting. You may think it makes you look industrious – likely the opposite.

When in a meeting, look around the room, look at your customers, and look at the managers, what are they doing?  Are they involved, are they paying attention, and are they focused on the meeting they are attending? What do you get from your observations?

How do you want to be perceived?  Do you think others are watching you?  Are they forming their own opinions of you? Do those opinions matter?

If you are not focused on the meeting because you are using the time to catch up on emails on your Phone or laptop, or doing work not related to this meeting? Why are you there?  Maybe it’s better that you call in. At least the attendees won’t see that you are not focusing on the present meeting.

When you are not focused on the meeting, others will notice by your posture, cell phone in hand, or when 45 minutes in to a meeting when you are asked a question, you must ask what project this was for.

There will be meetings that you are forced to attend for some reason, so it is inevitable that there will be a time that you are bored, tired irritated, etc., but in those regular meetings where you are there as a guest to be informed or to contribute, don’t just focus during your portion of the meeting; – stay focused and be professional and you may just learn something new.

Each company has norms and expectations, learn yours and adapt as required.

Are you a Project Manager? | Project Management

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Many people consider themselves, are labeled as, or actually hold the title of Project Manager (PM).

Project manager positions exist in nearly every industry; from construction to food service to medical care, there are PM roles everywhere.

Until recently, I worked in the AEC design industry as a Project Manager. During the 30 years that I worked in this industry, I basically did the same type of work, which for me involved managing design projects in the architectural, mechanical and electrical design disciplines for commercial buildings.  This management function involved monitoring and managing schedules, communication, and deliverables. From my experience, the vision I saw of a project manager was someone who coordinated, executed and oversaw a team or a series of processes on a regular basis in order to achieve a specific positive outcome – your vision may be a little different. In my new role I serve as an owner’s rep/project manager for construction and renovation projects that range from $100k to over $10 million dollars. No matter the size or costs, the processes are the same.

Based on the AUGI salary survey, there are a fair amount of Project Managers in our ranks, but some may wonder what exactly it is that project managers do.  As the title would suggest, project managers manage projects; sounds simple enough, but what exactly does that mean?  Even though project management comes in a variety of forms and industries, there should be a basic understanding or definition of what project management means.  Fortunately there are organizations out there that have covered this in much detail.  The Project Management Institute (PMI), which is the largest project management organization in North America, provides the following definition of Project Management:

“Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Project management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of the 47 logically grouped project management processes which are categorized into five process groups.”

This comes from PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 5th Edition.

According to PMI, every project goes through a series of process groups; Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing and within these groups you follow a specific set of processes. A simple summary of the process groups follows, although you can get a much more detailed definition and explanation in the PMBOK Guide mentioned above. A project has a start and a finish, but it also has a series of steps or ‘processes’ in between. PMI’s 5th edition PMBOK Guide covers 47 processes in a project’s life cycle, which it organizes under 5 process groups.

Initiating

Initiating is the process group that is used to define a new project or a subsequent phase(s) of an ongoing project. This is where the scope is defined and finances are committed to the project, stakeholders are identified and the project manager is often assigned.

Planning

In this series of processes where the scope is better defined and refined, objectives are set and a course of action is developed.

Executing

This is where the work gets done on the plan – where the tasks are performed in order to meet the project objectives.

Monitoring and Controlling

This is the process group that covers monitoring and tracking in order to review the progress of the project and its overall health. This monitoring is what identifies possible issues that may require changes or updates to the project plan.

Closing

This is the end of the project cycle. This is where a project is finalized and reviewed to make sure that contractual obligations have been met.

Although most people will not think in the detail above, understanding the flow of a Project and what happens in each phase is important to make the outcome successful.

So, now that we have some definition of what project management is and have an idea of flow, what defines a project?  According to PMI a project is:

“A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”

A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. This definition comes from PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 5th Edition.

As mentioned above, PMI is the biggest player in North America, and like AUGI, they are also an international organization.  PMI is not the only project management resource though; other organizations include the International Project Management Association (IPMA), the Association for Project Management (APM), and the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (ASAPM).

The IPMA and the ASAPM are member organizations, which are comprised of other Project Management associations from around the world (APM in the UK, AIPM in Australia, PMAC of Canada, GPM in Germany, IPM in Ireland, etc.). There is no shortage of available project management resources out there.

Now that we have definitions of both project management and a project, what does that mean for the role or roles of the Project Manager?

The Project Manager (PM) has many roles, and because of this, requires many skill sets.  Some of the most critical skills of successful PMs are good communication, organization, negotiation and discipline.  These and many other skills allow a PM to keep a project on track through its various stages. I will cover more about the Project Managers skill sets in a future article.

Projects happen in all industries, but for the sake of this article, let’s look at how a typical building design project may go through the previous mentioned flow.

Initiating

Initiating is probably the phase that many in the design world get brought in after.  This phase still happens, but it typically happens at the customer’s level with their executive team. If they think they are in need of a building, whether it be a new factory, office building or warehouse for distribution and storage, or just an expansion or renovation to an existing facility, they need to do some homework. The customer will create a list of their needs and resources, generate a business case and pitch it to their board or advisors.  At some point they will reach out to a developer or possibly directly to an architect if they already have the real estate that they need.  Obviously there is no one method that this starts, as architects, developers and contractors can come in at various parts of the initiating process – because as we know from the definition of a project, it is unique, so each one is different.

Planning

The planning phase is the most critical part of a project and it may include some or all of the previously mentioned parties. The planning phase is so important because it is where the majority of the work gets done that can make or break a project.  The design team is put together, the needs are established, vetted and organized on their level of importance, costs are determined, and a schedule is developed. During the planning stage a methodology is chosen to move the project forward, which could be Design Bid Build, Design Build, Construction Manager, or possibly Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). Typically the more time spent in the planning stage, the better the outcome of the project.

Executing

The executing stage is where the work gets done and is typically the longest phase of the project. In the AEC world, this is where the contractor(s) start the actual building process.  The project shifts from paper or model to a real world building.  Depending on how well the planning was done, this part of the project can go very smooth or can be a rough ride.

Monitoring and Controlling

This phase is not a standalone phase; it actually starts during the Planning phase, and covers the Executing and Closing phases as well. Monitoring and controlling is how the budget, schedule, and project methodology are monitored, reported on and of course controlled.  This entails verifying when extra costs come up or schedule delays happen that need to be corrected.  By constantly monitoring the schedule and budget, you can catch issues before they spiral out of control.

Closing

The closing process is where the record drawings are finalized to match what was actually installed (important for facilities maintenance), make sure all outstanding invoices are paid, liens are released, warranty information is collected and filed and a lessons learned review is done. The lessons learned can come in handy for future projects that the customer may do and will be very helpful for the design and construction team to make sure any issues or benefits that were discovered during the process can be applied to their future projects.

Do these process groups and steps seem familiar or fall in line with your day to day workflow? If so, you may be a project manager.

Resources:

https://www.pmi.org/

http://www.ipma.world/

https://www.apm.org.uk/

 

2017 – The Year Ahead

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https://www.graphicstock.com/stock-image/desk-calendar-shows-year-two-thousand-seventeen2017 is off and running and like many others, I’m working on my plans to make it a successful one. I did not make any New Year’s resolutions, rather I vowed to keep moving ahead from where I left off in 2016.  I’ll be working on the typical desires of getting more sleep, drinking less, cutting back on the number of cigars and getting in the gym three days a week.

WOW – Looking back at my posts, I see I have only done one post since the start of my 2016 goals post – SAD!  I should be planning on how I can get more posts in, but the reality of it is that I write enough on my other blog and a tech magazine (AUGI World) to keep me busy outside of work.  Since writing more was not a 2016 goal, I reckon that is ok. : )

I did make progress with some of the 2016 goals though, and the plan is to keep it up and build on the progress already made.  I have read a ton of books (20 actually) and listened to dozens and dozens of podcasts, I’m sleeping more by getting to bed earlier, and up until some surgery in December I was working out regularly at the gym with a trainer. I should be healed enough to get back in the gym in February, but for now it’s morning walks.

I have three major goals for this year:

– Get my PMP certification
– Reduce my current debt by 50%
– Complete a project Database project

The database project is something I started last year but has been on my todo list as a vision for years. This year I want to complete a solid foundation for it and get it running at work to test it. I’m teaching myself PHP through online classes in order to do it. This will likely kick in this summer as my PMP certification is my highest goal.

Debt reduction us a good goal for anyone. I have built and reduced debt multiple times over my lifetime and because of it have established an awesome credit rating, but not a lot of money in the bank. Time to change that pattern.

My biggest and my priority goal for 2017 is getting my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. I have worked in the construction industry on the design side for 30 years now and have served as a project manager in multiple disciplines but never sought out getting a formal certification.

I love my current job, but the company will be closing in the next 3-4 years and I’ll be back in the job search world. With 15 years or more left in my career, I want to make sure I maintain my employability moving ahead as my age will become a hiring factor.

There are multiple steps required to get the PMP certification, and I will be covering them in a series of posts over the next six months or so. I am doing this in order to self-record the progress, share with others that may be considering it, and create an online accountability document of sorts.

One thing I did some of this past year was journaling and I want to continue that into 2017, albeit with more consistency.  Last year it was all about electronic tools, but this year I am going back to paper – more therapeutic.  I ordered my day planner/journal for the year this weekend.  After looking at a few, I opted for the Basic black Passion Planner from www.passionplanner.com.  This planner has a lot of cool features for planning, scheduling, and even doodling.  I can’t wait to get it this week and get started.

http://www.passionplanner.com/what-is-it/

http://www.passionplanner.com/what-is-it/

Time to get moving ahead. Happy New Year to everyone and hope you successfully tackle your personal and career goals in 2017!

Walt

cal-0814-cl6-rodent-18

Build Your Own Cloud Server

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Build your own Cloud Server

Build your own Cloud Server for all types of media

So yesterday a friend asked me about the possibility of having his own NAS (Network Attached Storage) that he could access from work or out and about. And the answer is yes.  I have setup multiple NAS devices for clients and even have one myself and they are all based on Synology products –  – NAS is what they do and they are very good at it.

Most of use a cloud in some form offered by others like Dropbox, Sharefile, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc…  Having our own would be pretty sweet and a way to do this is with a NAS like my friend wants.  After some email discussion and a phone call, my friend finally made some choices for hardware he wanted to get.

Disclaimer: Throughout my posts you will find links, some of which are affiliate links. If you’re not familiar with this term, you can find more about it and why I use them in my About page here. If you select a link that is an affiliate link and then purchase a product or service from that link, at no additional cost to you, I will get a small commission.

He is going to get a 2-bay Synology NAS with (2) Western digital NAS hard drives at 4 Terabytes each so he can do a Mirror (real time duplication and full redundancy).

Synology NAS and Drives:
         

4 Terabytes is a bit much for most of us, considering many are probably using the 20gig Google Drive or the free 2gig Dropbox account with room to spare.  So what can you do with a NAS or your own cloud?

For your house a NAS can be used as a central media server for music, photos, videos etc.. or you can set it up as a cloud server to share these items.

For your business you can set it up as a:

  • Central file server
  • Backup server
  • FTP server
  • E-Mail Server
  • Web Server
  • Surveillance Server
  • And more…

Pretty versatile little box if you ask me.  I use mine as a personal backup server and cloud Sync server that backups up my Dropbox and Google Drive accounts locally and have plans to set it up as a family Photo Stream server  – someday when I have time…

WES

2016 – The Year Ahead – Part II | Health

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2016 Projection Target Showing Profit And Growth Planned

This is a follow up on my previous post about the new year and my goals. Two of my major focus goals are to lose weight and get in better shape. A tertiary goal to that is to get off of Prilosec, an over the counter acid reflux pill that I have been taking for about 12 years. I’m sure you have heard of Prilosec and it’s advantages in TV and radio commercials, but If you’re not familiar with it’s side affects, and your taking it – it is worth some reading up on.

Disclaimer: Throughout my posts you will find links, some of which are affiliate links. If you’re not familiar with this term, you can find more about it and why I use them in my About page here. If you select a link that is an affiliate link and then purchase a product or service from that link, at no additional cost to you, I will get a small commission.

Progress

As of this week, about a month since my last post this is what has been accomplished:

Health

I have lost 7lbs overall (I had lost 10lbs total, but I am going up and down a little each week).  My energy has definitely improved a bit and my focus is improving.  Excercise so far has been limited to getting up at 4:45 and doing a 30 to 40 minute walk each weekday morning (except that week it was in the 30s. I just couldn’t do it – 40F seems to be my low point. : )

Reading

Among the 38 podcasts I downloaded were a few real good ones from the Shawn Stevenson Model Health Podcast on types of food to stay away from. Last Monday’s listen was about wheat and whole grains and the HUGE issue it is for our bodies. I’ll be discussing more about that in my next post.

I have not started the two audio books I downloaded (“The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Cardone, Grant (Unabridged Edition) [AudioCD(2011)]” and “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy) because I ended up picking up another one (“Wheat Belly“) after listing to the Model Health Podcast on Wheat.

Tech day

Not nearly as productive as I had hoped. My Smart Things Hub and door lock are still waiting to get installed and setup, but my PC is screaming fast! The new SSD drive made a hug impact over the existing SSD drive I had previously. I will update this with a performance summary screenshot this weekend.  If you want to boost startup and apps loading – get an SSD!  I have been running them at home and work for the last couple years and they make a huge difference.

What I installed in my Gaming System:

Till next time!

WES