Last week we discussed preparing for your meeting: Construction Project Meetings - Part 1 Be prepared.
So now hopefully you are ready for your meeting with the client.
Make sure you arrive on time. It's rude to keep people waiting, it wastes everyone's time and it creates a bad impression. You can be sure that if you arrive late you have irritated the client and they be less sympathetic to what you have to say in the meeting.
It goes without saying that you should arrive at the meeting with the minutes of the last meeting in your hand, as well as the documentation and answers that you required for the meeting. Have something to take notes.
Try and cleanup before the meeting. It doesn't mean putting on a tie or jacket, but at least look respectable and professional. Believe it or not our work and competence is often judged on whether we look professional.
Construction project meetings
It's polite to turnoff the sound of your phone so an incoming call doesn't interrupt the meeting. Refrain from frequently looking at your phone and reading messages and emails.
As I said in the article last week, project meetings are often a good time to discuss concerns and issues with the client's project team.
At the start of the meeting raise any corrections to the previous meeting minutes. As mentioned it's not necessary to be pedantic and raise issue with spellings and grammar, but do correct the spelling of names if necessary. It is important that the facts as discussed at the last meeting have been fairly recorded and that there aren't additions in the minutes which weren't discussed.
During the meeting make your own notes of important discussion points and answers. Not only is this a record so that you can check the meeting minutes when they are issued, but they remind you of stuff that you need to action when you get back to the project.
Ensure you provide the correct information and answers at the meeting. Remember the meeting minutes are a record which could be later used to prove or refute a variation claim. Don't guess answers. If you're not sure of something then rather say so and commit to providing the answer after the meeting.
If you have questions or things to discuss then ensure you raise them under the relevant agenda items.
Don't make promises at the meeting, or commit to dates, without giving proper consideration to what you are committing to and whether you can deliver on the promise. Don't be pressured into committing to something you're not sure is doable. Rather ask for time to check and get back with a commitment. This doesn't mean that you are obviously obstructive or evasive. Just be sure of your answers. You may even choose to provide a qualified answer that you will probably achieve the date, but you must first check when you get back to your office and confer with others before providing a definitive answer.
Avoid getting into petty arguments. If you are wrong, then admit it and move on. I've had construction managers working for me who have argued points when they were wrong. Even dragging them over to several following meetings, so the embarrassing item appeared in several meeting minutes. Learn to move on.
Of course when you are right and the item is contractually significant then make sure you provide clear and correct answers and that your point of view is recorded in the minutes even if the client does not agree.
The meeting should never be a shouting match, even if others are disrespectful at the meeting. Always stay calm and have your say. If your say is not accurately recorded in the meeting minutes then put the points in a letter afterwards.
Don't talk over others and listen to what others are saying
After project meetings
After the meeting go through your notes and action the things that need to be actioned. Convey information to your team that arose from the meeting.
If there were decisions made at the meeting which have time or cost implications then ensure these are recorded. Get official client instructions where required, or lodge variations as necessary.
Get back to the client's team with any answers or information you promised to provide at the meeting. Provide the missing information as soon as possible so you don't forget. Anyway efficient response provides the team reassurance that you reliably provide information when you don't have the exact answers at the meeting.
Conclusion - construction project meetings are important
Construction project meetings can provide a useful interaction with the client's team and they can be a pathway to resolve issues on the project. Regrettably the client's team is often responsible for managing the meeting and recording the minutes. They may steer the discussion away from sensitive or embarrassing subjects, or write the minutes in a one sided manner.
It is therefore important to be prepared for the meeting, to check the previous meeting minutes carefully and report corrections and see that these are recorded, then to act professionally at the meeting, with calm and dignity.
Remember the meeting minutes are often read by higher authorities, both from the client and even your managers. Try and ensure that your actions do not reflect poorly on your company.
Project meeting minutes are a valuable record and they must be correct.
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Paul Netscher has written several easy to read books for owners, contractors, construction managers, construction supervisors and foremen. They cover all aspects of construction management and are filled with tips and insights.
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The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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