“Eighty percent of success is showing up”
– Woody Allen
Is it ever OK for the PM to skip a client meeting?
Short answer – never.
Longer answer – maybe, if there’s a family emergency or a sudden illness. And even then you might be able to get someone to cover or to reschedule.
In most places I’ve worked, the PMs would agree. They’d be mortified at the thought of sending a writer, or a programmer, or even the account rep to a meeting without them. How can you manage the project, and the client’s expectations, and the stakeholders, and the team if you’re not there?
On the flip side, in one place I worked this kind of thing was common practice. It was no big deal for the PM to skip a meeting – or send the team to meet live and dial in – because the focus of the meeting was on some part of the project the PM didn’t think he was responsible for (e.g., the writing, the code, the graphics) or because he was “too busy” with his other projects to take the time.
But how does it look to the client if you can’t be bothered to show up?
When you’re the PM, you’re responsible for everything! And unless you have one of those rare clients (I’ve never met one) that is totally fine with being reminded that your other clients are more important, skipping face-to-face meetings in order to work on other projects (or to miss the rush hour traffic to get home – I am not making that up), isn’t advisable if you want to keep that client very long.
Not to mention that if Woody Allen is even partly right, you’re giving up an easy path to success! If you can get 80% of the way there just by showing up, why wouldn’t you do that?