Dear PM Advisor. November 5th, 2012

Dear PM Advisor,

How do I get a high level Team Member to report on task progress outside my bi-weekly team meetings to avoid delaying other activities?

Intimidated in North Carolina

Dear Intimidated,

One important consideration for anyone managing high level team members is to emphasize that titles are left at the door. Never put anyone’s title on any document associated with the project. That person represents their function; their level within that function is not important. It sounds like you are doing that already since you emphasize that you are having difficulty getting status outside team meetings.

So now you need to work on your communication style with this high level person. Figure out his/her (I'll use 'him' from now on for simplicity) communication style. Listen for clues to this.

If he says things like: I don't like the sound of that, I hear you, sounds good, etc. He is an auditory person. He probably prefers voice mails, phone calls, etc.

If he says things like: I don't like the looks of that, I see you, looks good, etc. He is a visual person. He probably prefers e-mail, WebEx, etc.

If he says things like: I don't like the feel of that,  feels good, etc. He is a tactile person. He probably prefers a piece of paper, a face-to-face meeting.

Once you have set up the first meeting, the goal will be to find out how he wants to communicate status in the future. Can you 'pop in'? Does he prefer phone calls or meetings set up in Outlook? Would he like to meet for lunch, coffee, whatever.

How do you broach the topic of wanting status updates outside scheduled meetings? Just explain that you anticipate him finishing his tasks ahead of schedule and that you would hate to waste the buffer he generated by not immediately letting the next person assigned a task know that she can start early.

Be flexible with your own time so that he can communicate with you in any way that is easiest for him. Give him your cell #, home #, personal e-mail address, whatever works.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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