Up your game with new project management resources
If you had to pick a few people who are helping you grow and mature as a project manager, who would those people be? Perhaps these individuals are influencing you through a blog, online videos, online courses, or books. Grab a cup of coffee as I share seven influencers that I follow.
In addition to her books, Susanne provides great articles on her website. She shares her knowledge through videos on her Susanne Madsen YouTube Channel. Susanne also actively shares her knowledge on Twitter @SusanneMadsen.
There are many ways to engage stakeholders. You can facilitate discussions in your project meetings. A business analyst may elicit requirements. The lead tester may develop a team for testing. Let’s look at a different form of engagement–the use of an internal blog.
Engage: occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention)
One communication tool that I’ve used for enterprise programs such as implementing a Project Management Office (PMO) or an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Program is an internal blog. Blogs are a form of pull communication used for large volumes of information or for large audiences such as an organization. Subscribers access the blog content at their own discretion.
What’s An Internal Blog?
An internal organization or company blog is a regularly updated website or web page that is written in an informal or conversational style. An individual or a small group may run the blog. Blogs are a great way to share internal news and knowledge, improve company and team communication, and inspire stakeholders.
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
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.
I recently had a friend ask me — since I have an agricultural background — how to take care of her Christmas poinsettia. She said, “The leaves have been turning yellow and falling off. I think I’m killing it.”
Poinsettias have a reputation for being hard to maintain. I asked a few questions such as:
How many hours of sunlight has the plant been getting?
What’s the temperature in your house?
When and how are you watering the plant?
Are you fertilizing the plant? If so, how much?
Based on her answers, I knew the primary problem was insufficient light. Poinsettias like six to eight hours of filtered sunlight and temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, water the plants when dry to touch, and drain the saucer. What about fertilization? No fertilizer is required when the plant is in bloom. Want to know more?
Are Your Team’s Leaves Turning Yellow?
You may have the best intentions, but you may be over managing and killing your team. How can we revive and maintain a healthy team?
First, it would be helpful if you knew your team’s thoughts of your leadership and management. Ask and listen carefully. You might ask a few team members one-on-one, “Hey, I’m looking for ways to lead more effectively. Would you mind answering a few quick questions?”
What should I do more of?
What should I do less of?
What should I continue?
Ultimately, you’ll have to determine your actions going forward, but you may be missing some simple things that could make a big impact. Just the fact that you would ask these questions would speak volumes. Leaders are intentional in creating a vibrant culture and involve others in that culture.
“What most people want in a leader is something that’s very difficult to find: we want someone who listens.” –Seth Godin
Second, consider what the team needs to do their jobs and how well they are working together. Here are some additional questions you may ask:
Do you understand the goals of the project?
Do you have the tools you need?
Do you clearly understand your role and responsibilities?
How’s the chemistry of the team? What could make it better?
How can I improve the communication?
After carefully considering the needs of your team, develop a simple plan to put in action. You may find yourself doing less and getting better results. And keep in mind — teams, like plants, need consistent care to flourish. Best wishes!
Are you an Intentional Project Manager? Many project managers possess good technical skills, but some lack interpersonal skills such as leadership, influence, conflict management, decision making, and facilitation skills. That’s why I wrote The Intentional Project Manager and created the FREE Companion Course. I hope you’ll check it out.
Why is it important for you to motivate your project team? When we want to create and deliver products and services faster, we look at four areas — people, process, product, and technology. People has the greatest potential to shorten schedules across projects.
Credit: Adobe Stock
Researchers have identified team performance differences on the order of 10 to 1 or more. Most productivity studies have found that motivation has a stronger influence on productivity than any other factor.
Here’s the problem — motivating your project team is a “soft skill.” It’s difficult to get our arms around this baby. Consequently, many project managers give motivation a lower priority and focus on tangible things.
The CHAOS Reports have been published every year since 1994 and are a snapshot of the state of the software development industry. The Standish Group 2015 Chaos Report studied 50,000 projects around the world, ranging from small enhancements to massive systems implementations. It revealed that 29% of the projects were successful, 52% were challenged, and 19% failed.
Courtesy of AdobeStock (edited in Canva)
Successful projects were defined as projects that were completed on time, on budget, with a satisfactory result. If a project failed to meet one or more of these outcomes, it was a challenged project. If you have a project in the challenged category headed toward the wasteland of failed projects, let’s see if we can save it. Here are ten questions to help you determine things that may be causing harm to your projects: