Do you really care about your people? I mean really.
I have to admit there have been times in my project management career when I cared more about the project than the people. After all, I was under a lot of pressure to deliver the project come hell or high water. And my reputation and career were on the line.
When I think back, I’m not proud of how I handled some situations. I said and did some things that caused others harm. Nothing unethical; just ungracious, unkind, and uncaring.
Can you relate?
Care For Your People First
The Story of William Osler
In his book—The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader— John Maxwell shared a story about William Osler, a doctor, university professor, and author who practiced medicine. Osler once wrote:
Discover Practical Ways to Build Trust in Your Teams
Team values drive the team’s behavior and actions. If the team values efficiency, individuals will look for ways to get greater results with less effort. Project managers who value communication seek to improve understanding between stakeholders.
Many individuals assume that all the team members have similar values. While everyone may agree on project goals, they may not agree on the same path to success.
Does everyone value respect, trust, and encouragement in their day-to-day interactions? Team members will be more productive when they encourage one another and when project managers express appreciation.
Project managers rarely discuss values. Why? Because they see values as fluff. Teams are under pressure to execute and deliver. Project managers may not feel that they have time to clarify values.
So, how can we engage our team members and have a meaningful discussion on values?
Project managers can create a team constitution when initiating projects. What is a team constitution? It is a list of shared values. As the team creates the constitution, ask team members to reflect on previous projects. Ask them to identify desired attitudes and behaviors.
Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. -American poet Mattie Stepanek
If you wish to be a great project manager, focus not only on your technical skills but seek to improve your project interpersonal skills. Extraordinary project managers know how to relate to others when things are going as planned as well as on days filled with undesirable events.
Perhaps you’ve faced situations like these:
A team member constantly treated other team members with disrespect.
Your team was in trouble, but your sponsor was unavailable to help.
Your client was troubled because their expectations were not being met.
Meetings, meeting, and more meetings but little progress.
A senior leader was undermining your efforts.
A problem team member continually failed to complete their activities causing adverse impacts to the project schedule.
Management wanted your project completed in four months, an unrealistic deadline.
Decisions were made, but few of them stuck.
You’ve been asked to take on a troubled project where team members are at odds with one another.
How we handle these events either help and advance our projects (and our career) or cause harm. Are you aware of your emotions and your relational skills? Well, let’s discuss ways to improve our project interpersonal skills.
Are you looking for ways to improve your project communication? You’re not alone. Most project managers know that 90% of their time is spent in communicating – hearing, speaking, and seeking to understand.
Project managers constantly communicate — coaching, summarizing action items, influencing stakeholders, educating team members, listening, facilitating decisions, creating a contract with a third party, escalating an issue, and meeting with a project sponsor, to name a few. Great project managers are first great communicators. How can we get better?
10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate
This is a great time for you to be a project manager. There have never been more opportunities for you to achieve your project goals and make an impact on your world.
If you are like most project managers today, you are overwhelmed with several projects and you have too little time to get it all done. As you struggle with project estimates, budgets, and risks, you engage with team members that bring their personal and professional issues into your world. Your ability to influence and manage these individuals is essential to your success.
Each project has its own unique culture, a world composed of team members’ beliefs, attitudes, values, behavior, and actions. The best project managers are not only aware of their project culture, they shape it. Rather than allowing their environment to define them, the best project managers enter their projects in a predetermined manner.
Tolerance can be a great trait. However, project managers must be deliberate in what we will tolerate and what we will not tolerate. Project managers must not permit things that cause disorder, degradation, and uncertainty.
10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate
In March, I will focus on situations where the project manager should not tolerate things in themselves such as poor facilitation of meetings. We will discuss how project managers should address poor team member behaviors such as being late to meetings. We will also look at scenarios where project managers should influence behaviors between team members such as showing respect to one another.
Is there a way to improve both project requirements and quality at the same time? Allow me to begin this discussion with an illustration.
I recently needed a television mounted on the wall of my office. A fairly simple requirement, right?
I told the handyman that I wanted the television to be head high. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the room and saw that the television had been installed a foot higher than I expected. The handyman did what I asked him to do but he used his head height, not mine. He was like the Jolly Green Giant – 6 foot 7 inches tall; I was 5 foot 6 inches tall.
Improve Project Requirements and Quality
Quality management is highly dependent on the clarity of the project requirements. Why?
Quality is the degree to which a project meets the requirements. This definition assumes that the requirements are defined and that there are varying degrees to which the requirements may be met.
If the truth were told, many projects lack SMART requirements: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound. They’re vague, and there are little to no standards by which to judge whether the requirement has been implemented properly. Furthermore, stakeholders may not be engaged adequately in the requirements process.
Ill-defined requirements — like “install the TV head high” — make it difficult, if not impossible, for designers, developers, and testers to do their jobs. When defining requirements, define the fit criteria: “a quantification of the requirement that demonstrates the standard the product must reach.” For example, I could have specified the precise vertical and horizontal location for the television. With this, we would have had a way to measure whether the requirement was met (and avoid the rework, time, and extra expense).
Additional Requirements and Quality Management Articles
Want to know more about project requirements and quality management? Check out these additional articles: