One of your main project management duties is mastering their timelines. That can be pretty difficult to do if your team only communicates one-on-one. Regular status meetings are way more effective at showing you where your team stands at all project milestones. Read on to learn about the purpose of status meetings and find some tips and tricks for improving yours. 

What is a status meeting?

Status meetings are online or in-person team gatherings where you discuss the latest updates on a specific project. You’ll typically hold status meetings with your team members, but you can also hold them with clients. 

A good status update meeting can help your team answer questions or overcome obstacles. It can also help everyone feel more motivated to do great work, right on time.

Run delightful status meetings

A well-run meeting can foster communication and collaboration by including an agenda the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow! 

9 best practices for a status meeting

Below are 9 ways you can improve your status meetings. 

1 Decide on the purpose and objectives

Before hosting a status meeting, you should know why you’re having one in the first place. It’s not enough to say “I need a status update” – you need to know what you’ll do with that update afterward. That means going in with clear meeting objectives that keep things on track. You’ll check more boxes more quickly when you and your team know the purpose of the meeting beforehand. 

2 Ask your team to come prepared

Admittedly, status meetings can eat away at the time your team spends actually doing work. They’ll take less time if you have everyone come prepared. For example, you can tell your team to create a three-minute presentation before the meeting about where they currently are in the project. Another option could be to have each team member name a challenge they faced this past week. When everyone comes in prepared, your meeting is more likely to stay on track

3 Make it efficient 

An efficient status meeting updates you on where things are at without taking so much time things fall behind further. Efficient meetings start with only inviting essential team players to the meeting – generally, no more than eight people

There are several other steps you can take to run an efficient project status meeting. These steps include: 

  1. Hold meetings more frequently. Hour-long biweekly meetings spend more time than they save. A weekly status meeting with solely quick updates means less time spent on status updates, even if meetings are technically more frequent.
  2. Assign a timekeeper. A timekeeper will let everyone know when there are only a few minutes left on each agenda item. This way, you don’t go overtime and run an overly long meeting.
  3. Send out an update form. Prior to the meeting, have each team member complete a status form. A short form is better – just “how much longer will you need for this task” and “what have you done” should do the trick. These forms can tell you exactly where everyone is on the project before your meeting. You can then use your status meeting to figure out how to get everyone closer to your goalposts.
  4. Go over tasks outside the meeting. Status meetings are for discussing timelines and resources. They’re not for telling your team members how to do their work. Team members also shouldn’t ask for instructions then, though they can ask for more resources and help from other team members. Questions about how to do the work should go to you afterward – emails, instant messages, and one-on-one meetings are all great methods. 

4 Look back and look forward

Looking both back and forward means talking about the immediate past and future – say, a two-week period. This way, your team stays tuned in to only the “now” and any near-future concerns. It’s also a great way to look at recent work and share positive feedback with your team members for their recent achievements. That said, if one of your team members brings up an issue that could become serious down the line, you should still address it now.

5 Hold your team accountable

When you don’t hold your team members accountable, they might be more likely to hide issues and concerns from you until the last moment. That only poses problems for handing in your work on time. Below are a few ways you can hold your team accountable during your status meetings. 

  • Begin status meetings with a review. You should start each meeting with a refresher on each team member’s status. That’s good for both project management and transparency. When team members know they have to discuss their progress with the group, they’re more likely to do their work to avoid meeting tension.
  • Be real about the consequences. It’s understandable that, in certain situations, team members might miss deadlines. That’ll come up at your status meetings, and that’s your time to gently but firmly act on it. Remind everyone about what can happen when you miss deadlines so they’re motivated to be on time moving forward.
  • Assign due dates. You can set realistic deadlines during your meetings to avoid work that comes in late. When your team members know these deadlines ahead of time, they’ll know roughly how long it takes to get everything done. This way, they can balance their schedules so they don’t get overwhelmed last-minute. 

6 Create an agenda

A meeting agenda gives your meeting a purpose and helps your team to stay on track. For status meetings, your agenda should leave time to discuss updates on every task. Your agenda should also state how long you’ll spend on each topic and leave time for questions at the end. 

If you’re uncertain about how to create a meeting agenda, you may want to include these below topics: 

  • Quick review of current status
  • Look back and look forward
  • Updates from task leaders
  • Current or potential near-future issues
  • Time for questions
  • Recap

Before each meeting, you should send the meeting agenda to everyone you’ve invited so they know what to expect beforehand. 

Team Meeting Agenda Items

7 Keep your team focused

Running an effective status meeting means keeping your team focused and on track. That isn’t always easy – sometimes, team members will want to discuss their own wins and challenges beyond what’s on the agenda. That can make your meeting run late and go off-topic. 

If this sounds like how your meetings typically go, you should choose a team member to be your meeting facilitator. This way, when the meeting is getting off-topic and needs to move to the next point, you have someone who can make that happen. If someone raises a point that isn’t quite right for the meeting, ask them to bring it to you sometime afterward. 

8 Leave room for ideation

Ideation can happen in a few ways – brainstorming, brainwriting, timeboxing, the “best worst ideas” method. Look into these approaches and see which one might work for your team – maybe it’s all of them. In any case, the ideas you all come up with can help you get your status where it needs to go. A meeting with no time for problem-solving and critical thinking won’t help you get things done any more quickly.

9 Ask for feedback 

Does your team have any comments about how you conduct your status meetings? Are your meetings running too long? You won’t know the answers unless you ask your team. After your first few meetings, send out an email with an anonymous survey asking team members what they think. Their answers will show you how to improve on and what to keep doing well. And it’s easier to get with the right meeting tool in your wheelhouse. 

The purpose of a status meeting

Status meetings are important for a number of reasons, including the below. 

1 Monitoring projects

Regular status meetings can help you see if your team will complete a project on time to the client’s standards. You can also identify any unexpected roadblocks and immediately take action. 

2 Problem-solving 

A weekly or monthly status meeting gives your team the chance to work out issues with the whole group. That’s better than hashing things out alone. Plus, two minds are better than one – a group can more quickly resolve hiccups and move the project forward faster. 

3 Making key decisions 

It’s likely that, at some point in your project, a few team members will hit roadblocks that are tough to navigate. When you meet with your entire team for status updates, you can brainstorm new ideas to overcome these challenges. That means more problem areas can go from “incomplete” to “complete” more quickly. 

4 Updating tasks 

One of the main reasons you’ll host a status meeting is to see where everyone is at on their tasks. Your status meeting is your time to update each task in your project management system. This way, you can act now if you see that the project might fall behind – or celebrate if you’re ahead of schedule.

5 Budgeting

Budgeting walks hand-in-hand with monitoring your project status. After all, if your project falls behind schedule, you might need to spend more money to catch up. On the other hand, if you’re ahead of schedule, you can probably find more wiggle room in the budget. And then, you can spend more on the project or save money off the estimated cost – both things that can take you quite far.

6 Task prioritization

A status meeting is a great time to prioritize tasks. To do that, try directing your meetings with a “now, next, and future” attitude. For example, ask questions like: What’s everyone working on currently? What would be the next steps after that? What about in the long run? But be careful with that last question. Setting up months’ worth of tasks can be too overwhelming for some team members. You might be best off focusing on the two or three weeks ahead.

7 Defining (and refining) project goals

Status update meetings are great for seeing the bigger picture. For starters, you and your team can take a good close look at your objectives and key results (OKRs). You can then add more OKRs or change your current ones. The idea is to set deadlines and standards for your team to meet so you can create a great final product on time. 

8 Improving communication 

Regular status meetings are better for communication. They happen in real-time, which is an improvement on email. They happen face-to-face, which can be better than virtual meetings and phone calls. They can also build trust between you and your team members and allow everyone to be a part of the decision-making process. And they’re a great space for team members to ask questions that can help your status reach “complete” sooner than later. 

9 Resolving conflicts

It’s likely that your team will run into conflict at some point throughout your projects. That doesn’t always mean screaming and shouting – it can just mean different thoughts on how to solve a problem. Status meetings are a great time to face conflicts head-on and quickly resolve them. Good conflict management means listening to what everyone is saying and using it all to find the best solution. That solution can keep your project moving forward.

10 Planning next steps

Every good meeting leads to an action plan. The meeting action items that make up this plan give everyone plenty of work to do afterward. That’s especially true at status meetings, where the whole point is to make sure everyone’s doing the work to reach the finish line. A good status meeting tells you where things are at and how to get where you’re going.

Free status meeting agenda templates

Prepare for your next status meeting with Fellow

Regular status meetings can improve employee productivity and engagement. Preparing for these meetings is easier with a tool for building meeting agendas and gathering anonymous team feedback. With Fellow, you can do both and assign action items as they arise at your meetings. You’ll be that much closer to completing your projects before you know it.