Category Archives for Leadership

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

Do You Really Care About Your People?

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:Continue reading

Wonderful Things Happen When Your Team is Unified

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.

picture of paper dolls holding hands

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

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How to Take Care of Poinsettias (and Project Teams)

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.”

How to Take Care of Your Poinsettias (and Project Teams)

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?

Taking Action

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!

[callout]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.[/callout]

How to Motivate Your Project Team

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.

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.

"There is no traffic jam along the extra mile." --Roger Staubach

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10 Powerful Questions in a Checklist to Save Your Projects

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.

10 Powerful Questions in a Checklist to Save Your Projects

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:Continue reading

Six Essential Requirements of an Influencing Strategy

This is a guest post from Colin Gautrey, 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. He is the creator of the Stakeholder Influencing Masterclass.

When it comes to becoming influential, you need to go through a number of steps.

Firstly, it will pay huge dividends if you get crystal clear on what you are aiming to influence. This includes moving from a hard goal to a soft goal and then backing it up with evidence criteria.

Six Essential Requirements for Influencing Strategy

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock (edited in Canva)

With that clear, it becomes much easier to identify who the key stakeholders are – those who have the power and interest to help or hinder your progress. Without doing this, most people seem to focus on the stakeholders who are nearest to them, easiest to access, or they have the best relationship with.

After a simple analysis exercise (considering relationship and agreement) it then comes down to developing an influencing strategy.Continue reading

Guilty of Annoying Your Stakeholders

[callout]This is a guest post from Colin Gautrey, 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. He is the creator of the Stakeholder Influencing Masterclass. [/callout]

You are busy, and so are your stakeholders.

Getting them on board with your ideas, liaising with them to resolve issues, all takes time. It also helps a great deal if you get on well with them. Effective working relationships smooth over the inevitable problems and challenges that need to be dealt with.

Trouble is, it is far too easy to irritate them.

Guilty of Annoying Stakeholders

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

You are in a hurry and time is of the essence. But, as you push things forward, try to make sure and avoid these common irritants.Continue reading

How to Turn Stakeholder Conflict on Its Head

Project managers encounter conflict regularly over schedules, project priorities, human resources, requirements, and technical opinions, to name a few. Individuals, groups, and organizations have different opinions, sometimes strong opinions. These conflicts may surface internally, as well as externally.

How to Turn Stakeholder Conflict on Its Head

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

I remember a project that I managed where the organization wanted to create a customer service representative (CSR) position. Previously, administrative personnel handled the customer service in the remote locations. The introduction of the CSR would have greatly diminished the administrative personnel’s role and responsibilities.

I was asked to facilitate a series of meetings with key stakeholders. I remember the tension in the first meeting. The body language, the tone of voices, and the arguments all magnified the conflict. All project managers encounter conflicts like this one. How can keep peace while working through the opposing views?

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