In my early days of managing projects, the tasks ran the show. I was the man with the to-do list. I filled it out every night before leaving work. Every morning I religiously reviewed it, verified the priorities, and executed each item for a successful day.
The disappointment I felt if I wasn’t able to complete the list was measureable. It wasn’t just my own tasks that I managed that way. Every member of the team had their tasks, if not for the day, at least for the week. I felt it was my job to make sure everyone got their tasks done for the good of the project.
The tactical mind
By following that task-mastery approach, I know that I got a lot done. The team got a lot done. I felt like I was managing the project effectively by following this tactical approach. And to some degree I was. I was identifying what needed to get done and driving it to completion. Continue reading Thinking a Step Ahead of the Project Owner→
Project managers have a certain notoriety with their teams. They push team members to reduce their estimates for work. Once an agreed upon estimate is reached, the PM pushes the team to beat the estimate.
If the estimate can’t be beaten, it certainly has to be met. And there will usually be hell to pay if the estimate can’t be met. Now the task is behind. Because there are dependencies for other tasks, the entire project may fall behind.
This of course is scandalous. Project plans need to be updated. Change requests need to be completed. Executives need to be notified. Team members can be made to think that a one-day delay on a task could bring the entire organization to its knees. Continue reading Can You Estimate Like Your Team Members?→
I’ve always wanted to get into the mind of people who are habitually late. As one who prides himself on promptness, I hate to be late. On the rare occasion that I am late, I’m very apologetic.
But people who are always late must be intentionally late. When they stroll in ten minutes late for a meeting, have they thought about how they’ve negatively affected the mood of the team? Did they have any consideration of the time of the other people who showed up on time only to wait for them?
I doubt it.
But there is another set of people who hate to be late, but still make a habit of being late. They know they have that meeting in ten minutes, but don’t stop to think about the documents they’ll need to gather for it, or the time it will take them to get to another floor or another building to get there on time. Continue reading Scheduling backwards to be on time→
Have you ever read an email and gotten upset, thinking the person was being offensive and rude? Then, when you bring it up to a coworker, expecting them to agree, they took the email in a whole different meaning.
Communication is hard. We don’t always say what we mean. We don’t always mean what we say. Putting things in the written word is even more difficult. Whether it is an email or a project charter, stating something in words that is clear and succinct is always challenging.
What are we trying to accomplish?
When a project manager develops a statement of work or a project charter, there is usually some summary information for the team. These documents generally state the purpose of the project, the expected deliverables, and at least a high-level timeline for the work to be completed. Continue reading What Are We Trying to Accomplish?→
Over the years I’ve written about many project management skills, techniques, and approaches. Project managers need to be organized. They need to be able to plan efficiently. Project managers need to be able to communicate and customize their communication for their specific audience.
The project manager needs to have many tools in her toolbox. One tool I haven’t written about is respect. Effective project managers know that treating others with respect is one of the key things that allows them to get things done.
Respect for team members
The project manager needs to have respect for the individual team members in many ways. She should respect their time. Team members generally work hard and it is important for them to be productive. Continue reading Managing Projects with Respect→
In our project based organizations, we serve in uber-diverse workgroups. Not only are our team members from many different parts of the globe, they rarely all work for the same team.
An organization may start a project with a small group of internal staff members. That internal team may consist of a contractor or two to augment the staff. They then call in a consulting group to provide expertise and assistance. That firm may have a few contractors of their own. Continue reading Including all Stakeholders→
I once worked for a man that had a defined process for everything. He tracked everything with a spreadsheet. Everyone was expected to follow all of his processes to the letter. People became so bogged down following process that they got little else done.
We’ve all heard of back seat drivers. They sit in the car and criticize the driver. They tell the driver when to turn, when to slow down, and when to speed up.
Not all passengers are like that. Some just sit back, close their eyes and nap through the ride. It is indicative of how we manager our careers. A driver is one who takes control. The driver of a car has to monitor how fast traffic is moving and adjust accordingly A good driver will look ahead to see if there is a slow down or an obstacle in the distance to be able to adjust before there is a problem. Continue reading Are You a Driver of Your Career or a Passenger?→
I have a friend who is a really good sales person. He is also very entrepreneurial. He has worked for other people for a number of years, but I’ve always been impressed by how he approaches his work like it is his own business. It shows commitment.
He has been talking for a long time about going out on his own. I have encouraged him. He has such a deep knowledge of his industry and a lot of innovative ideas that could help people in it.
How could he not understand what we’re doing? I couldn’t have made it more clearly to him.
That feeling has probably gone through every project manager’s mind at one time or another. You have developed what seems like an easy concept in your mind. You quickly relay that information to someone else. Maybe they didn’t understand it as well as they thought they did. Perhaps they weren’t listening. Maybe they just didn’t care.
I experienced it once on a project that I managed. I felt I had a good rapport with the key business stakeholder. The project started out very open ended. The client had many initiatives that they wanted to accomplish. Part of our job was to help them prioritize things. We worked closely with them and narrowed it down to a category of tasks. We then discussed those tasks and brought it down to three primary initiatives that we wanted to accomplish in our three-month project. Continue reading 6 Steps for Effective Project Communication→