Do You Manage Like a Coach or a Referee?

do you manage like a coach
Do you manage like a coach or a referee

I was watching my daughter’s soccer game a few days ago and made an observation. I saw her coach standing on the sidelines doing his job. And I saw the referee out in the middle of the field doing his.

I’ve never confused the two roles. They each have a different job to do and they do it. Some are better than others.

Manage like a coach

A coach – at least a good one – works with the individuals on the team to help them improve as individuals and as a team. When a player on his team makes a mistake, the coach provides feedback on how to improve.

A coach sets goals for the team and each of its individuals to achieve in order to succeed. Success is well defined. Everyone knows what they need to do and how to achieve success.
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How Not Trusting Your Team Kills Productivity

not trusting your team
Not trusting your team to do the job.

Have you ever played volleyball when one person tries to play every position? He runs all over your team’s half of the court hitting volleys that should rightfully be hit by other teammates. Because he is running to other positions, his hits are bad. He plays his own position badly too, because he’s running around playing all six positions.

Most of us know people in the business world like this too. She has her own job to do, but still gets involved with the jobs of others. This is common with newly promoted managers. Managing his new team is well outside of his comfort zone, so he reverts back to his worker-bee days. He gets involved in the details and does the work of others.
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How Making Noise Hurts Your Team’s Productivity

making noise hurts your team
How making noise hurts hyour team

It can be a difficult transition when someone makes the move from worker bee to management. You find yourself going from someone who had lots of tasks and was always busy, to being in an oversight position.

Certainly a manager keeps busy. There are plenty of things to do. But when a deadline approaches and the team has a ton of work to do in a short time, managers often find themselves in a situation where they watch people working, waiting for the rest of the team to get it all done.

Meaningless activity

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How Focusing on the Wrong Things Causes You to Fail

focusing on the wrong things
Are you Focusing on the Wrong Things?

Office coffee politics

Once early in my career I worked on a project in which I attended weekly client meetings where we reported our status to one of the executives. This particular executive had an agenda for the meeting each week. He would list the projects from which he wanted updates, and listed specific issues when he wanted specifics.

The department I worked for had a coffee pot out in the open. People who drank coffee were expected to pay on the honor system for each cup. The accumulated money was used to purchase more coffee and filters.
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How To Deal With the Renegade Team Member

renegade team member
Do you have a renegade team member?

Every once in a while – maybe even more often than that – you experience a renegade team member who wants to do things his way rather than what you’ve tried to set as the norm. When this happens, the project manager has to decide whether to act and what to do if they decide to act.

The first thing the project manager needs to decide is whether the “renegade” activity is unhealthy or undesirable. Too often, project managers see someone acting outside of the norm and attempt to reign them in before determining the consequences.
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Assessing Risk in Project Management

assessing risk
Are you assessing risk effectively?

The Scout Motto is “Be prepared”. I don’t know if a study has ever been done to determine whether former scouts make better project managers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a correlation.

The most successful project managers I know are prepared for almost anything. Over the years, the most successful way I’ve found to be prepared is to have a formal risk assessment process, in which risks are addressed early and often.
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Project Risk and the FedEx Truck

project risk
Assessing project risk
project risk
Assessing project risk

I recently went on a family vacation to Vermont. Even while I was admiring the beautiful green mountains of that state, I couldn’t help but get distracted thinking about project risk.

We were visiting some family who took us on a drive to Stowe, VT. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains with dense trees and mountain scenes. There was a narrow pass named Smugglers Notch, in which the road narrowed and curved sharply. The lane was wide enough for two cars to meet, and still pass. But it required them both to slow down enough to avoid hitting each other or the side of the mountain.

When we entered the mountainous area, I noticed a sign that read “Road ahead unsafe for trailers, trucks and buses.” I didn’t think too much about it until we got a few miles in and an oncoming car flagged us down.
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Project Management Role: Removing Obstacles

Project Management Role
Project Management Role: Removing Obstacles

When the role of project manager is brought up in every day conversation, many people think of the task-master, always trying to get status from the team member, reminding him of just how late he is on his task.

One can almost picture the PM standing there pointing to her watch, tapping her toe impatiently.
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Strategy: Focus on the Target

Strategic Target Focus
Strategy: Focus on the Target

Imagine that you are planning a vacation from Chicago to visit a friend in Los Angeles. As part of that trip you decide that driving and seeing the countryside will be a great way to enjoy the trip.

A little south of Chicago, you get on Interstate-80 and start heading west. You drive for hours and then days, feeling yourself getting closer the further you head west. You feel your destination getting closer as you drive through Salt Lake City and enter the state of Nevada. You can almost smell the ocean as you pass through Sacramento and begin driving through wine country.

Then, unexpectedly, after days of driving, you are welcomed to San Francisco. San Francisco? You wanted to go to LA. Which is six hours southeast.
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Just Do It My Way

Inflexible management
My way or the highway.

Do you like the toilet paper to roll up from the bottom? Or do you prefer that roll down from the top?

Chances are that you have a preference.

I deliberately ignore the direction of the role when I replace it (yes, I do replace it). By doing this, it rolls from the top and from the bottom each about 50% of the time.  And something amazing has come out of that. I haven’t once had trouble unrolling this bathroom essential, regardless from where it unrolls.
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101 Tips for Success in Project Management