Project Management Skill: Getting the Team to Communicate

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Project Management Skill

One of the most important abilities a good project manager has is being able communicate effectively.  Project managers need to know when to communicate, when not to communicate, and how to do it effectively.

Having good communication skills means knowing the the right format – should I email this person, call her, or schedule a meeting in person?  Once you identify the best approach, you need to determine the correct words to make your communication diplomatic and direct enough for the situation.
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In Defense of Checklists

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Defense of checklists

A 2009 study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when surgeons used a basic checklist prior to a surgical operation, deaths were reduced by almost 50%, and complications due to surgery were reduced by more than a third.

These basic checklists included steps such as verifying the identity of the patient and the type of surgery to be performed, as well as making sure blood was available in case it was needed during surgery.

Pilots go through the same type of checklist before ever flight.
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How to Leave a Project

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How to leave a project

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. Because of that, hopefully everyone who serves on a project, knows that they will eventually leave that project.

Most projects are not fully staffed for the duration. Nearly every project that I’ve seen has ramped up slowly, starting with only a few team members.  It ramps up, occasionally adding or changing staff as needed. Then, as the project ramps down, so does the staffing.  The bell-shaped curve follows its course through project closure.
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Here’s to Shorter Meetings, Fewer Meetings

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Here’s to shorter meetings

Every company that I’ve ever worked for, whether as an employee or a consultant, has had way too many meetings in my opinion.  I’ve attended meetings designed to prepare for another meeting.  I’ve also seen people lead meetings who use up every minute of time allotted.  If a half-hour meeting finishes in twenty minutes, they figure out some way of extending the meeting to its allotted time.

Meetings do serve a purpose. We can’t just eliminate them altogether.  We just enable meeting abuse by allowing people to take them too far.

I’ve always believed in calling meetings only when necessary. But even then, there is the problem with necessary meetings going too long.
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Decision Making by the Project Manager

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Decision making

I’ve written in the past about what makes a good project manager.  One thing I’ve never addressed is a project manager’s decision making abilities – and limitations.

Managers in general need to be decisive.  It shows the ability get things done when others don’t know how to move forward.

But a project manager needs to know when to be decisive and when to defer.

For instance, I manage projects in a consulting environment.  When issues arise requiring a decision, it’s important to realize that although I manage the project, and am responsible for the project’s success, at the end of the day the client owns the project. Even when managing an internal project, the business customer owns the project.
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Completed Tasks Do Not Equal Accomplishments

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Great accomplishments

I used to be a very scientific and data-centric project manager.  I lived by the Microsoft Project plan.  I thought a project was all about tasks.

The project plans I managed in those days were full of activities, tasks and subtasks. Estimates were verified and tracked to actuals. I could calculate cost variances, earned value and performance baselines with the best of them.

When it came time to report status I had it all together.  At the beginning of each week, I’d print a filtered list of tasks for each team member. At the end of each week, I met with team leads to get updates on all of the tasks that were completed for the week.
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The 2 Biggest Project Management Decisions

Project management decisions
Project management decisions

Throughout my career, I’ve managed a lot of people and probably mismanaged a few.  I’ve learned from most of my mistakes.

I’ve also been managed and mismanaged by many bosses along the way. Any success that I’ve had, I can attribute to the fact that I’ve been managed more than I’ve been mismanaged.  I am sure that I’ve learned at least as much from being mismanaged as I have from being well-managed.

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101 Tips for Success in Project Management