Category Archives for Leadership

10 Ways Project Sponsors Can Boost Project Success

I often ask project managers the reasons for project failure. One of the top responses is a lack of leadership and sustained engagement by the project sponsor. The sponsor paints a fuzzy picture of what they want, throws it over the fence to the project manager, and goes on their merry way. He or she essentially says, "Let me know when you're done. Failure is not an option." Really?

project sponsor with project team in background

Fortunately, some sponsors know how to hit home runs. These sponsors understand that their leadership is essential to a winning season. They stand out from other sponsors by owning their projects and maintaining a healthy relationship with their project managers from the beginning to end of their projects.

"PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent." 

PMI Pulse

Sponsors are typically busy senior executives often coming from the C-suite. In addition to the projects they are sponsoring, the executives have many other responsibilities.

How is it possible for a sponsor to complete their project work and still have time to perform their other duties? Let's look at 10 ways sponsors can boost project success.

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How to Write SMART Project Goals

What is the role of the project manager? The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) says, "The project manager is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives (my italics)." Defining clear objectives and goals is the foundation of the project. Let's look at how to write SMART goals.

"People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine." —Brian Tracy

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10 Simple Ways to Thank Your Project Team

Your project team has just completed a major project or hit a significant milestone. The team members have worked hard and put in the extra hours to bring in another successful project. So, how do you thank your project team? What ways will you let them know you care?

thank you card

Thank You Card

Practical Ways to Thank Your Project Team

1. Send a hand written thank-you note. I recently saw a Thank-You card pinned to someone’s cubicle wall. The card was dated five years earlier. Why would someone keep a card that long? Hand-written notes are a rare commodity in our digital age. Furthermore, tangible notes may be displayed and savored.

2. Send a thank-you photo card. Take a photo or two, create a photo card, and mail the cards to your team members.

3. Take your team to lunch. If your project budget allows, take your team out for lunch after the completion of a major milestone or completion of the project. During lunch, share your thoughts and acknowledge each team member’s contributions. Additionally, reinforce the project’s significance to the company’s strategic vision.

project team

Project Team

“What I have discovered is that as I do the work of personalizing recognitions into the work of my team, I become a more empathic and involved leader in the process.” –Claire Jenkins

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How to Become the Most Compelling Project Manager You Will Ever Know

Every project is a story. Projects begin and end. Plots and subplots abound. Interesting characters interact and react, with good and evil motives. Are you a compelling project manager who commands the ship?

10 Attributes of a Compelling Project Manager

Some project managers act in boring and predictable manners. Others capture and hold your attention. You can't wait to see the next chapter. What makes some project leaders so captivating and believable?

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10 Terrific Traits of Exceptional Project Managers

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

I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of project managers in my career. Here are some of the traits and behaviors that made them stand out. How many of these traits do you possess?

rocket

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

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.

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Nine Awesome Benefits in the World of Stakeholder Management

John has been failing to exploit and enhance the benefits of stakeholder management. Why? He's not been be convinced of the benefits. Allow me to pull back the veil and share nine benefits of stakeholder management.

If you are a Project Management Professional (PMP), you’ve likely studied Chapter 13 of the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Stakeholder Management, which was added in the Fifth Edition. PMPs know about identifying and assessing stakeholders. You’ve learned how to develop a stakeholder management plan of when to engage stakeholders at in a project.

You understand the concepts. You have the book knowledge. But are actually engaging your stakeholders?Continue reading

Four Reasons Why You Struggle to Engage Stakeholders

Colin Gautrey

This is a guest post by Colin Gautrey from Learn to Influence. Colin is an author, trainer and executive coach who has specialized in the field of power and influence for over ten years. He combines solid research with deep personal experience in corporate life to offer his audiences critical yet simple insights into how to achieve results with greater influence.

Few things are possible in large or complex organisations without buy-in from stakeholders. To get that buy-in, you have to engage them. In this article, Colin shares four reasons why you struggle to engage stakeholders.

So, you diligently reach out to them to bring them up to speed, get their input and elicit their support for your initiative. Naturally, you are convinced that it is in their very best interests to engage with you, they have a great deal to gain from this exciting project.

And that is when the problems start.

Your emails go unanswered, your calls ignored. As time advances, things become desperate as you realise that you are up against a deadline. Trying harder to get them talking to you just seems to make things worse.

Should you escalate?

Well, that would indicate to your boss that your influencing skills are lacking. So, what else can you do to get things moving again?

Firstly, you’ve got to pause a moment. Instead of trying harder, start to think more deeply.

Secondly, you really need to check the attitude you have towards your stakeholder. The longer failure to engage continues, the more negative attitudes become. Although this may not be the cause of lack of engagement, it will definitely make it harder to remedy the situation.

Thirdly, get a clear appreciation for the reasons why they may be holding back. This takes some doing, but when you move beyond mere suspicion and assumptions, you are much more likely to find the winning actions to gain the engagement you need.

Fourthly, based on your reflection about the real cause, adjust your approach so that you tackle the cause head on.

To help you delve more deeply into the underlying causes, consider:

  • Time. Although you may suspect otherwise, quite often they genuinely do not have the time to give justice to your request. Think about it. You’re busy, too busy to do many of the things that you would like to do. Maybe, just maybe, they would love to talk to you but haven’t been able to find a moment to do it.
  • Interest. You’ve heard this before, if someone has sufficient motivation, they can always find the time. For many stakeholders, especially those subject to extreme time pressure, they may not yet be aware of all they can gain from engaging with you. Your first sale is the time and priority in their schedule. Your second sale is what you want them to agree to.
  • History. Is there something in the history of your relationship that may be causing them to resist your attempts to engage with them. Think hard about this one. It might be that you’ve made life difficult for them in the past, or maybe you’ve let them down badly. Alternatively, something may have happened that they feel guilty or embarrassed about. Going further, what about their history with your boss?
  • Suspicions. Do they trust you and your motives? Perhaps something else is going on that makes them a cautious. This could be as simple as your new reporting lines (hence concern about whose side you are now on) or as distant as your friendship with a political rival they have just skirmished with.

The key here is to be as accurate as possible. You may need to invest some serious time to investigate this and talk to other to other stakeholders. While this may seem expensive, what pain are you already facing while hitting your head against a brick wall?

Regardless of the time it takes, if you don’t know why they are unwilling to engage, any attempt to engage them will be based on guesswork.

Seven Project Management Influencers to Watch

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.

picture-man-drinking-coffee

1. Susanne Madsen

From the UK, Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognized project leadership coach, trainer, and consultant. She is the author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook and The Power of Project Leadership. Her focus is helping you become a confident leader, able to inspire, motivate, and deliver value.

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.Continue reading

How to Actually Boost Your Team’s Performance

Why is that one project team can vastly outperform another team although both teams have similar skills? Motivation. If you want to boost team’s performance, speak encouraging words consistently.

Each day presents opportunities for you to breathe life into your teams. Your teams are more than a group of zombies. They are human beings with emotions that want to make a difference in their world.

Here are ten words that can stir up your team members and help them to stay focused, remain committed, and jump the next hurdle.Continue reading

How to Engage Stakeholders Through An Internal Blog

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.

3 business people reading blog on a tablet

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.Continue reading