larly at large organizations. When Mr. Chin worked
at an investment firm that had roughly 1,000
employees, he learned the preferences of division
heads primarily through teleconferences.
“Asking my boss or others who knew them bet-
ter than I did about what they were like, what their
interests and motivations were, helped as well,” Mr.
Chin says. “If my boss was having a catch-up with
one of them, I might ask if it was okay if I sat in on
Regardless of the size of the organization, project
managers must maximize the time they have with
executives to keep their teams—and their proj-
“The higher the level of attendee, the more time I
may take to prepare for the meeting,” Mr. Prol says.
“It’s important to give executives the focus of the
project team at the start, so we can address their
needs, and let them move on to other meetings or
ers on project assumptions,” says Mag Saad, PMP,
director of outsourced Project Management Office
services at Capgemini, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Mr. Saad incorporates visual elements that easily identify the primary categories that each exec
is focused on and then maintains that format for
recurring meetings. For example, he might use
a horizontal timeline with color-coded blocks to
update project milestones.
“You have to keep blocks of information in the
same position so execs get used to where they are
placed,” Mr. Saad says.
If possible, project managers should use a personal touch. Learning about the preferred communication style and data presentation of individual
leaders increases the likelihood that project managers will connect with an exec during a meeting,
says Clement Chin, PMP, senior project manager at
RAC Insurance, Perth, Australia.
That’s easier said than done, of course, particu-
ONE STEP AHEAD
Sending out high-level details in advance
lets project managers get ahead of the game
during executive meetings, says Mag Saad,
PMP, director of outsourced PMO services at
Capgemini, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This
approach allows the team to spend more
time on strategy than context setting.
For example, if the chief financial officer
needs to approve a budget increase in an
upcoming meeting, the project manager
should send out a summary memo ahead
of time. The message should outline the
amount of the proposed increase and bullet
points that provide context, such as the
changes that led to the budget overrun.
“Focus on the ‘what,’ but make sure
you’re ready to get into the details of ‘why’
in the meeting,” Mr. Saad says.
make sure I
from all of
—Søren Porskrog, PMP,
LEO Pharma, Copenhagen,