Category Archives for Leadership

6 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Team Members

“The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.” -Steven Covey

Much research has been completed in the past few decades on methods of motivating employees and building great teams. What have the researchers discovered? The single most important motivator turns out to be “clear expectations.” Guess what the greatest demotivator is. Surprise, surprise – it’s unclear expectations1, or employees not knowing what was expected of them.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Employees join organizations looking forward to making significant contributions. However, some people lose their enthusiasm and excitement due to environmental conditions. Managers fail to put the “right people in the right seats on the bus” as Jim Collins spoke of in his classic, Good to Great.Continue reading

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?

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.Continue reading

Is Your Superhero Causing Harm?

Friends, I have observed hundreds of project teams through the years. And, I’ve seen some team members rise to “Superhero” status. But, superheroes can cause harm. Grab a cup of coffee or tea. Allow me tell you a superhero story.

I once worked at a global company. When I joined the information technology team, I was introduced to the linchpin of IT. He was the go-to guy for every project.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Though this person was a very talented technologist, he limited IT’s effectiveness in many ways. Over a period of several years, this individual had gained a tremendous knowledge of the business processes and systems. Rarely did he share or document his knowledge. This superhero liked the adrenal rush of being in control.Continue reading

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Project Risk Management

If you survey people involved in projects on the importance of risk management for achieving project objectives, a high percentage of the participants will say risk management is important or very important. I’ve seen survey results where 90% of the people thought risk management was important. So…why do few people employ and support risk management?

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com (edited in Canva)

Many people have had a bad experience. Project managers have performed risk management poorly. Let’s look at several reasons why project risk management can become useless and what we can do to gain better project results through risk management.

  1. Failure to lead by example. In order for organizations to mature and benefit from risk management, leaders including sponsors and project managers must walk the talk. People resist change. Without a consistent example by those in authority, people will likely seize opportunities to revert to their former behaviors. What must we do? Lead by example.
  2. Failure to focus on the risks that matter. Some project managers start their programs and projects with gusto. They facilitate risk identification exercises that result in a boatload of risks. However, no one knows which risks matter…there is no evaluation and prioritization of risks. People become overwhelmed and take no action. Be sure to evaluate and prioritize risks.Continue reading

10 Remarkable Ways to Build an Amazing Project Culture

Some project managers just seem to find success easier than others. Maybe because they consistently do these ten things that others don’t.

Every project manager wants to be successful and help their teams achieve their project objectives. But so many individuals struggle to get there.

Hand writing I love my project with marker, business concept

Photo courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

In my journey, I have spent more than 15 years managing projects, programs, and portfolios in different industries and organizations. While each organization is unique, I have noticed similar attributes of project managers with team members who love their projects (and their project managers). Here are ten you may want to incorporate into your practice.Continue reading

10 More Simple Ways to Thank Your Team

A few months ago, I posted an article entitled “10 Simple Ways to Thank Your Team.” Based on the response, I would say the article struck a cord with many people. Let’s look at additional ways to recognize and reward your team members and why a simple thank you is so powerful.

RecognitionBoard

Award Recognition Board

“The first job of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” -Max de Pree

Give Your Team Members the Greatest Gift

I had a great boss and mentor years ago. He not only provided constructive criticism, but he had a great habit of saying thanks.

I remember times when I completed a challenging project. During a one-on-one meeting, my boss would look me in the eye, rehearse the project’s chronology, highlight the challenges, finally…with a pause…he would say, “You did a great job. Thank you for your hard work.”

He would stand, shake my hand, and say, “Congratulations. Why don’t you take off the rest of today.”

My wife would hear me say over and over, “I love my job.” Money was important (I had to feed the family and pay the mortgage), but the greatest reward was the gift of appreciation.Continue reading