Category Archives for Leadership

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

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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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8 Ways You Can Better Respond to Unrealistic Demands

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

We’ve all been there. You get a call (or more likely an email) requesting that you do something immediately or within an impossibly short space of time. Alternatively, they may be asking for something that you simply do not have the resources to be able to deliver. Many times, these requests feel more like orders — people demanding that you do things without giving a thought to what else you have on your plate.

Responding to Unrealistic Demands

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

In these situations, it is all too easy to react emotionally — especially if the definition of “unrealistic” is stretched to the extreme. Your plans for the day are thrown off course, other people may be let down, and those people may be your loved ones. No surprise that you may feel angry or frustrated by the lack of consideration shown by the person making the demand.

If you’re struggling to respond to unrealistic demands:Continue reading

What Project Managers Need to Know About Stakeholder Management

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.

In this article, my guest Colin Gautrey shares what you need to know about stakeholder management.

I first started out I worked for a branch of the intelligence services. Nothing terribly exciting, just a communications and IT specialist. Well okay, some of the time it was very exciting, but I can’t go into that.

Embedded in the culture was the concept of “need to know.” To minimize the risk that secrets would leak, you were only told things that were essential to perform your role. Nothing more, nothing less. For this to work, we all had to rely on someone at a more senior level making an accurate judgment about what we needed to know. Only they were allowed to see the bigger picture.

In fact, it was even a little risky asking questions lest suspicions were aroused. So generally people kept their heads down and did their job.

Why am I sharing this little snippet from my deep and distant past with you today?Continue reading

How to Be Smart in a Project with a Slack Team Member

Have you ever had problem team members? These individuals hide missed deadlines, possess bad attitudes, and criticize other team members. They seldom volunteer to help other team members or jump in to pick up the slack.

How to deal with a slack team member

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock (edited in Canva)

[callout]Bonus: Keep an eye out for the FREE bonus at the end of this article.[/callout]

Project managers are more than managers – they are leaders. Team members watch project managers to see how they respond to problems. A project manager’s failure to confront and resolve poor attitudes, behavior, and actions can be costly on many levels.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” -Babe RuthContinue reading

10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate

Project managers are not just managers. They’re leaders. Project managers shape and influence their project culture for good or bad.

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 refuse to tolerate things that cause disorder, degradation, and uncertainty.

picture of Harry Hall

As leaders, we must first walk the talk. Before addressing the intolerable things of others, let’s first make sure we’re living up to that standard…lead with integrity. Here are a few things that I find intolerable in myself and my projects.Continue reading

Project Leadership Matters

Every month or so, I like to provide you with a digest of featured articles on a particular topic. LEADERSHIP is this month’s topic.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Think you’re not a leader because you are not in senior management? Think again. Leaders are individuals who influence others, no matter where they are in an organization.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

How does leadership fit in the world of projects? The focus of project management is helping an organization achieve its project objectives. Leaders define and cast the vision, whether at an enterprise level, department level, or project team level. Leaders then support their teams to make the vision a reality.

Featured Articles

Question: What three words would you use to describe project leadership? 

[callout]My favorite leadership podcasts include Michael Hyatt’s This Is Your Life and Andy Stanley’s podcast.[/callout]

8 Things Great Project Managers Say Every Day

Stop and consider the words you’ve spoken recently to your project teams. How would you characterize them? Are you speaking words that bring clarity, courage, and confidence to your teams? Are you asking the right questions to keep your team focused?

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Never forget – you are working with human beings who need clarity and who have emotional needs. Your words matter. Before meeting one-on-one with team members or as a team, THINK about your words. Consistently use the phrases and questions below:Continue reading

The Curse of Project Management Knowledge

Can I be painfully honest with you for a minute?

What I am about to say may not feel good. In fact, I am certain that you will NOT enjoy it.

Photo courtesy of iStock.com.

Photo courtesy of iStock.com.

I have been hoping someone else would do the dirty work. But no one has stepped forward (at least that I know of).

You know how you’ve been struggling with your projects? Are you tired feeling like you live on another planet, and no one understands you.

Well, it’s not because you aren’t trying. It’s not because you don’t follow the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). After all, you have your Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. You are a cut above the rest in your knowledge of project management.

So here it is.

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40 Reasons PMOs Fail

I’ve been managing projects and programs for more than 15 years. I’ve seen a little bit of everything. I’ve also had the joy and the pain of implementing two Project Management Offices (PMOs), one in an Information Technology Department and one Enterprise PMO.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Through the years, I’ve noted many reasons that PMOs fail or struggle. It’s rarely just one thing; it’s usually a combination of things. Here is a list of causal factors. I hope the list helps you find success.

  1. No project sponsor or project charter for the implementation of the PMO
  2. Failure to define the “P” in PMO (Project Management Office or Program Management Office)
  3. Failure to place the PMO at the right level of the organization (e.g., Enterprise PMO, IT PMO) based on the real problems of the organization
  4. Inability of the PMO to deal with institutional politics
  5. Passive-aggressive behavior of stakeholders
  6. Communicating to all the stakeholders in the same manner with the same level of detail
  7. Staffing of the PMO with technical project managers that lack leadership and strategic and business management skills
  8. The PMO requires that ALL project managers to adopt templates, forms, and strict methods
  9. The organization only wants window dressing rather than real change
  10. Showy Batman heroics of the PMO rather than day-to-day servant leadership
  11. Changes in executive leadership (out goes the individual who supported the PMO and in comes a person who does not favor PMOs)
  12. The lack of project management maturity of its business leaders
  13. The lack of in-depth project management experience in the PMO
  14. The lack of collaboration between the PMO and its stakeholders
  15. The lack of rewards and recognition when good things happen
  16. The lack of project management training
  17. The lack of business analysis skills in the PMO
  18. The lack of periodic assessments of the PMO
  19. The clashing of beliefs in traditional and agile life cycles
  20. Functional managers want complete control of the organizational projects that impact them
  21. Jealousy
  22. Power struggles
  23. The tendency of the organization to regress to bad behavior
  24. Embarking on large, complex programs immediately after or during the implementation of the PMO
  25. The unwillingness of senior management to make the investment of time to improve the project culture over the long haul
  26. The PMO lacks an understanding the organization’s problems
  27. Poor definition of the PMO success criteria
  28. The PMO doesn’t understand the organization’s culture
  29. The PMO doesn’t understand the stakeholder’s needs and expectations
  30. Not implementing the right type of PMO/degree of control (e.g., supportive/low control, controlling/moderate control, directive/high control)
  31. Thinking that PMOs can only bring value for mammoth programs
  32. The PMO is bureaucratic
  33. Failure to highlight early successes
  34. The PMO loses wind after the initial gains
  35. The PMO is seen as the process police/box checkers
  36. Too many meetings with too little to show
  37. The PMO lacks an understanding of the organization’s strategic plan and fails to align itself with the strategy
  38. Thinking that what worked at one company will work at another company
  39. Individuals craving the desire for former positions or status before the implementation of the PMO
  40. Expecting huge results in a short period of time

Homework

Are you planning to implement a PMO? Take the time to review this list; use it as a checklist in your planning and implementation. If you’ve already implemented a PMO, review the list to see where you might need to make some changes in your approach. I would love to hear about your success and pain points. Best wishes!

Question: What would you add to this list?

How to Deal With Pre-assigned Project Resources

Life is not easy. We are dealt hands that can be difficult. Project managers may be pre-assigned resources internally and externally that lack the skills and knowledge required for their projects.

How to Deal WithPre-assigned

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Why do we always feel like we get the left-over resources?

What can we do? Jump ship. Give up. Find another job. Let’s try some other strategies.

  1. Negotiate. First, determine who assigns the resources? Is it a functional manager? Does your organization have a resource manager? Will a vendor or supplier provide resources? Second, meet to discuss the goals of your project and the knowledge and skills that will be required for success. Third, recommend resources for the team.
  2. Influence. What do we do if we work for a large organization where we do not have access to the individuals making the assignments? Someone has access to these people. Does your sponsor have access? Does your manager have the right connections. If so, influence the people you know and make your case. Ask your connections to influence the decision makers.
  3. Acquire outside resources. When your organization lacks staff to complete the required project activities, see if you can acquire outside resources. Here is one reason that project managers need to be involved in projects early. You can make your case and build the resource cost in your budget. Carefully interview potential candidates.
  4. Develop your teams. At the end of the day, you will be assigned teams. Guess what? The teams will not be perfect. What skills and competencies are lacking? Are the team members motivated? What do you need to do to improve overall project performance? Look for ways to improve knowledge and skills, create team building opportunities, build trust, and encourage collaboration.

The Insanity of Resource Management

Many organizations have under-performing projects. Why? Organizations do a poor job of defining their projects and understanding the resource requirements. Next, organizations overcommit – they commit to more projects than they should. Team members are stressed and organizations experience a lot of employee turnover. Furthermore, organizations fail to identify and acquire and develop skills and knowledge for these resource bottlenecks.

I am sometimes asked to take a look at organization’s resource problems and help them find solutions. My response? Before I come, prioritize your project portfolio and kill or postpone half of your active lower-priority projects. Do fewer projects better. Of course, very few organizations will do this…the insanity continues.

Question: Perhaps you feel different. What would you recommend to improve project resource management?