This month’s Quick Question is:

I hold a weekly company call every week that consists of me highlighting the upcoming milestones, risks and issues, and then a round table between the various department heads.  It is intended to help everyone stay aligned week to week.  The issue is that despite the status reports I send out and my tracking sheets, I find that especially with team members that work virtually from me either do not process the information and we end up misaligned on certain deadlines and tasks.  I find myself repeating myself a lot, or getting frustrated because people seem to be on different schedules or using their trackers.  I also find that there are many sidebar conversations from the top-down results in scope creep or changes to the project that happen before we can analyze the impact to schedule and plan.

Do you have any ideas on making these meetings more efficient or putting out information and ensuring it’s understood with virtual team members?

Below is a summary of my answer to this. For the full response, watch the video.

  • Status reports and tracking sheets sound like a lot – can you find easier ways to tell them what is expected of them? Is the info personalised to them or do they have to sift through everyone else’s stuff to find their tasks/deadlines?
  • Sounds like you might be doing a lot of the talking – how could you change the balance so they have to report what they’ve done? You can then tell them where they aren’t aligned to the overall schedule.
  • Can you have one version of the truth so they can’t use their own schedules?
  • If you mean that they just ignore you and set their own deadlines, then possibly the agreed deadlines weren’t realistic in the first place. Start from scratch, set the deadlines with the people doing the work.
  • If they agreed the deadlines and haven’t delivered on them, what is the escalation point?
  • Does it matter if they don’t hit the deadlines? Can you highlight the implications for other teams to their managers?
  • Sidebar conversations: do the analysis after the agreement – so what are you wanting me to cut now we can’t afford to do this as you put XYZ in scope? Do you have tolerances set so you can manage within these?
  • Make the info you are sharing easier to understand. Make the consequences bigger. Educate the management teams. Work on credibility and authority so they don’t take decisions without you.