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Alignment Meetings: What They Are + How to Run One ( + Tips)

Understand what an alignment meeting is, why they’re important and 5 key tips for conducting them seamlessly.

By Kate Dagher  •   July 29, 2021  •   6 min read

Alignment meetings are similar to planning sessions that take place at the beginning of a new project. Their purpose is to ensure that you and your team members are all on the same page and have a clear understanding of the tasks that need to be completed in order to successfully execute the project. To ensure this team alignment, it’s essential that key stakeholders have agreed on and understood a plan that is project chartered so that your progress can be tracked. 

A successful alignment meeting means that the entire team sees and understands a logical way forward to achieve project success. Because these meetings are extremely effective for project planning, Fellow has put together a comprehensive guide for executing an alignment meeting with success.

What is an alignment meeting? 

An alignment meeting takes place as an interactive discussion, typically designed to kick off a new project or mission. The goal of the meeting is to ensure team alignment and ensure all team members are on the same page. The conversation centers around the goals and requirements of the project and determining how to complete it successfully. The meeting is intended for the whole team that is involved in the project and is meant to compile and achieve a list of project requirements. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss and assign the deliverables of your project with your team. 

Why are alignment meetings important? 

Alignment meetings are important because they ensure that all team members are informed and prepared for their upcoming tasks, which work towards completing the project or company goals. Not only are you aligning your team with organizational goals, but your team has a chance to discuss their own priorities and discuss what’s most important to them. With this kind of understanding and alignment between team members, communication is going to improve. With better understanding and communication comes higher efficiency and productivity

Tips for an optimal alignment meeting

1 Find a common ground

In order to have an effective alignment meeting, it’s important that you and your team members are ready to meet one another in the middle. Finding common ground isn’t always easy with multiple opinions, views, previous experiences, and ideas to go over. That said, in order for the project to be successful, you need to find a way to compromise for the greater good of the project at hand. Make sure to remain open-minded and motivated by collaborating rather than simply having it your way.

2 Prepare in advance

When it’s your turn to highlight your thoughts and opinions, in your area of expertise, be sure to be well prepared for the alignment meeting so that you can speak persuasively to the rest of the team. When you have organized and prepared yourself well in advance, you will be more persuasive as it will be obvious to the rest of the team that you’ve taken responsibility and are competent in this area of the project. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions in an area of the business that you are well-versed in.

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3 Hear everyone’s opinion

As much as it’s important to participate, be sure that you’re hearing everyone out and that everyone feels as if they have a voice. It’s a good idea to ask all of your team members to come prepared with their input so that everyone is contributing to the conversation. Even when someone’s views diverge from the majority, it’s important that everyone is given the chance to be heard. After all, the most popular idea is not always the most impressive one. 

4 Follow a structured agenda

A well-structured meeting is absolutely necessary for the meeting to be successful. In order to give your meeting structure, make an alignment team meeting agenda in advance and ask for your team members’ input on which key agenda items they would like to discuss. Collaborating on the structure of the meeting will help you and your team determine a meeting goal as well as a way to work towards it. 

5 Define a solid project purpose

After you’ve created your meeting agenda, you can use the agenda items to work towards the purpose of the meeting. In an alignment meeting, typically the purpose is to gain an understanding of the project requirements, necessary for a successful finished product. Think about how you’ll address the purpose of the meeting and determine the role of each team member in the project. 

Common challenges of alignment meetings

1 Dissenting opinions

Often team members will have differing opinions when it comes to how to approach a new project. Because of this, meetings get off topic and off track, which results in a poor use of time. Where it’s important that everyone shares their opinion, it’s not useful unless you can come to an agreement. Consider a fair option such as voting on the approach you’ll take to your new project. 

2 Misunderstandings

Misunderstandings are common in alignment meetings because each team member comes from a different background. Because expertise differs from person to person, information can be misunderstood, leading to issues with the roll out of the project. Make sure that the purpose of the meeting is clear and that tasks are assigned to specific individuals with deadline dates. This is going to clarify the tangible steps that need to be taken in order to achieve your goals. 

3 Misguided assumptions

Misguided assumptions are more dangerous than actual misunderstandings because assumptions aren’t typically voiced. Avoiding misguided assumptions means ensuring that the information that you share is clear and concise. You can also avoid misguided assumptions by dedicating time for a Q&A at the end of your alignment meeting. 

4 Meandering agenda

If your agenda is structured randomly, without any kind of purpose behind each agenda item, you’re going to struggle with conducting an effective alignment meeting. Moreover, if your meeting agenda is meandering, then there’s a lack of organization. Make sure to create your meeting agenda in advance of your meeting. Ensure that the meeting has a purpose and that each agenda item helps you and your team to work towards that purpose. Collaborate with your team to understand which topics they feel are the most important to discuss. 

Parting advice

Having a diverse and intelligent team means that often, there’s going to be differences of opinion. Where this can seem quite difficult to manage, it’s actually a great opportunity to hear unique approaches and ideas that your team members have. Alignment meetings bring the entire team together to decide how to best approach a project or task that you’re working on. It’s essential to work with your key stakeholders to clearly comprehend the purpose that is driving your project, which is why an alignment meeting is necessary in the first place. Be sure to go over these tips as well as these common challenges that are likely to arise for an optimal alignment meeting. 

As always, thanks for stopping by the Fellow blog. We can’t wait to see you next time! 

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