Project Summit – Business Analysis World

I had a great time at the Project Summit / Business Analysis World in Atlanta. I always enjoy to making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, learning some new things, and having the chance to speak.

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10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate

IMG_0219In my breakout session, I had the privilege to speak on the topic of 10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate from my book The Intentional Project Manager. I am thankful for an engaged group of participants who asked great questions and provided insights from their real world of projects.

If you wish to see the slides and notes for my presentation, click here. I have also created a short course in teachable.com — The Intentional Project Manager — where you can watch the presentation in short video segments (about 3-5 minutes). Here is the class curriculum:

The Intentional Project Manager Online Course

The Intentional Project Manager Online Course

How to Accomplish Your Awesome Project Management Dreams

Everyone wants a bright future. How can we improve our lot in life? How can we discover positions that leverage our experience and talents to fulfill our dreams?

Tom has been working at AAX for four years as an information technology project administrator, mostly managing small projects no one else wants to do. Lately, Tom has felt unchallenged with the menial tasks he’s been given; he knows he has skills and knowledge that’s not being tapped. Tom has been thinking about taking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and applying for a project manager position.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities. You may feel a million miles behind everyone else.

Simple Secrets to Advancing Your Career

If you want to advance your career, start by defining your career goals. Then determine what may help and what may hinder the achievement of those goals (sounds like risk management to me). Let’s look a little deeper.

5 Project Questions That Will Make You Feel Uncomfortable

Imagine that you are at a social gathering where your friend John begins a challenging conversation. John asks some probing questions to the group, questions that hit home with you. Unknowingly to the group, the questions shine a light on some things that are not right in your life. At an appropriate moment, you excuse yourself from the uncomfortable discussion.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Sometimes we need to hear hard questions, personally and professionally. Project managers need regular quiet times in their lives where they can think deeper about their attitudes, behaviors, and actions. While excessive introspection is unhealthy, we should periodically examine our lives to understand the deeper issues in our life.

I want to ask you five questions. My motive is not to MAKE you feel uncomfortable. Rather, my aim is to help you identify the deeper things that are limiting your effectiveness.

As you consider each question, be willing to ask yourself: Am I REALLY being honest with myself? Here we go…

What’s Your Favorite Project Management Book?

Project managers have the opportunity to learn from the best. Reading books is like sitting down with an author, having a cup of coffee, and listening to their distilled insights.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

What have you been reading lately? If you are preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, you’ve likely spent a lot of time in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). That’s great, but project managers today need more than technical knowledge.

The ideal skill set – the Talent Triangle – is a combination of technical, leadership and strategic and business management expertise. The list of books below provides resources for the different aspects of the Talent Triangle.

3 Superior PM Skills – Which one do you need to work on?

Have you ever encountered a friendly tour guide who just started their job and does not know any more about the local area than you do?

Have you had a child join a sports team where the coach lacked basic leadership and motivational skills?

Perhaps you’ve seen a brilliant doctor but found his manners less than pleasing.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

When people are looking for a project manager, they want someone who can meet the total needs of the project. They want someone who possesses a wide range of skills including technical, industry, and soft skills.

If your past three project teams were to evaluate you, what would they say is your most limiting factor? Maybe you have great technical skills but lack the skills to properly staff and develop your project teams. Perhaps you find yourself at a loss when trying to help your sponsors align your programs and projects with your organization’s strategy.

None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. While project managers should leverage their strengths, let’s not fail to discover the skills that limit us most. What’s the bottleneck in our project management career?

“75% of organizations rank leadership skills as the most important for successful navigation of complexity in projects.” -Project Management Talent Gap Report

Let’s look at three superior skills that project managers should possess.

Why I Became a Risk Management Professional

I became a Project Management Professional (PMP) in 2001. I managed hundreds of projects in the following ten-year period. So, why did I seek to obtain the PMI-RMP in 2012? There were several reasons.

Why I Became a PMI-RMP

  1. To gain better results. What’s the project success rate for your organization? 30%? 50%? I have managed two PMOs where we worked to define success criteria with stakeholders, measured our success rate, and looked for ways to improve success year to year. Many of the practical ways we improved our success rate was through project risk management.
  2. To help my organization with risk management at different levels of the organization. I currently serve as the Director of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) for a large insurance company. Our ERM policy and processes were largely developed based on what I had learned about risk management as a PMP and PMI-RMP. Risk management always involves identifying, evaluating, responding to risks, and controlling risks. These processes may be applied at different levels of an organization – Enterprise, departments or business units, portfolios, programs, and projects.
  3. To gain greater access to jobs and higher salaries. If you’ve been in the project management job market lately, you have seen the high percentage of employers looking for certified project managers. Having an additional certification provides project managers with a wider range of opportunities – it’s like having a double major. Most employee compensation surveys report that certified project managers enjoy higher salaries compared to uncertified project managers.
  4. To sharpen my saw. Life gets stale when I’m not learning something new. I like to sharpen my saw physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. Pursuing the PMI-RMP was a challenging and rewarding journey that helped me grow mentally.
  5. To improve my knowledge and expertise. Any time we invest in ourselves by focusing on our profession is time well spent. We’re going to get better at what we do. Studying and applying risk management principles has helped me learn practical tips, tools, and techniques.

10 Terrific Traits of Exceptional Project Managers

Think about the project managers you’ve worked with through the years. Which project managers would you qualify as exceptional? Which ones were unusually good?

What traits caused these individuals to be outstanding? While the list below is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the traits and behaviors of the best project managers I’ve seen.

1. Persistent

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill

Projects are filled with pot-holes. Project managers and their team members make mistakes, create defective products, and stumble. Persistent project managers learn from their failures and lead with renewed enthusiasm.

2. Opportunistic

“Opportunities don’t happen; you create them.” -Chris Grosser

Project managers are risk managers that identify, assess, and manage risks including threats and opportunities. Great project managers have an eye for seeing, exploiting, and enhancing opportunities.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

17 Powerful Ways to Learn Project Management

Years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a project manager. I had a great job managing about 50 Information Technology professionals, but the company I was working for was not supportive of project management. I made the difficult decision to change companies and jobs.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

I was hired as a project manager by my new employer, but frankly, I knew very little about project management. Furthermore, I was not a very good project manager…I had lots to learn. How did I learn? How did I apply the new knowledge in practical ways to drive project success?

Fortunately, I had a great boss and mentor. Theron took time each week to coach me, to share articles, and to point me to books. He also challenged me to get my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, which I did. Since that time, I’ve been on a journey to learn and apply project management to help companies deliver products and services.

10 Mistakes Unhappy Project Managers Make Daily

Some project managers find themselves unhappy…some miserable…some lost.

What can we do to right the ship? How can we get our footing again and move forward with meaning and purpose?

Stressed Young Businessman at Office

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The starting point is finding a place where you can invest your gifts and talents to meet the deep needs of the world. Beyond this foundational premise, let’s consider mistakes unhappy project managers make.

  1. Not growing as a project manager. When we stop learning and growing, life gets dry. Discovering new things keeps life fresh and enables us to do our jobs more effectively. How can we grow? Read. Take a project management course. Join a mastermind group.
  2. Worrying about things outside of your control. Project managers may find themselves dwelling on things outside their projects that they don’t control. It can consume us. Let go of the things outside of your control. Be a good steward of the things WITHIN your sphere of control. Perform with excellence. 
  3. Not forgiving someone. Someone hurt you on a project…really bad…three years ago. It may have been intentional or maybe not. Either way, that past grievance is keeping you from reaching your greatest potential. The unforgiveness is only hurting you. Forgive the individual. Release it. Put it in the past.
  4. Not addressing a problem team member. You have someone on a project team who is a slackard. You and others are constantly having to follow up with this individual. Other team members are being adversely impacted. Coach the individual. Help them see how their action or lack of action is hurting the team. If the individual continues to misbehave, get rid of this bad apple.
  5. Failing to take care of yourself. Some project managers are selfless servants. These individuals give until the tank is dry. They mean well, but they fail to recognize their finiteness. We must first take care of ourselves. Why? So we have the energy and health to serve others. Take time off from work. Exercise. Get adequate sleep. Maintain a healthy diet (okay, have a milkshake every now and then).
  6. Not focusing on what matters. When we fail to prioritize our work, we make everything of equal importance. We cannot be all things to all people. Work with your team to prioritize the work. Complete the most important tasks. Realize that some things won’t get done.
  7. Seeking everyone’s approval. Some people are approval addicts. These individuals exhaust themselves trying to appease everyone. Don’t seek the trophy of compliments. Simply serve others with humility.  
  8. Not trusting your team members. “People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance,” says Jesse Lyn Stoner. Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for teams to perform at their highest level. Look for opportunities to entrust your team members with responsibilities.
  9. Fearing failure. If we want to grow, we must embrace adversity and failure as a part of our lives. See your mistakes and failures as opportunities for personal growth. Persevere. Don’t give up. Press on. 
  10. Failing to live in the present. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:34. As a project manager, I spend lots of time planning for the future. So much so, I can lose sight of today. I fail to enjoy the present. Carpe diem – seize the day – live in the present!

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Viktor Frankl

The Masters of Project Management

One of the events I enjoy each year is the Masters; a premier golf tournament held in my home state of Georgia. I have carefully studied the masters of golf each time I have attended. What is it that allows golfers to reach the summit of the golf world?

The Masters ofProject Management (1)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

I have also watched many project managers through the years. Some project managers outperform other project managers exponentially. These project managers have superior soft and hard skills. They are the masters of project management.

Traits of World Class Performers

What are the traits of world class performers? World class performers practice hard, receive coaching, and sleep and rest.

Practice

World class performers practice in a consistent and disciplined approach. They put in many more hours than average performers. Their thinking is that they never arrive at the top of their game. They continuously learn new tools and techniques.

How can project managers learn more and improve performance? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask for projects that challenge you and allow you to learn new things
  • Attend project management conferences and symposiums
  • Read project management books
  • Read non-project management books that teach leadership and communication skills
  • Speak and teach on project management topics
  • Take project management simulation classes