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Robert Prol Posts

Be candid or be gone

Most performance management processes are designed to collect unsubstantiated feedback on team members. I’ve sometimes been befuddled to determine what people are trying to say when they bring up a perceived weak area. They are comfortable in their anonymity when they provide their feedback. Being able to hide behind a keyboard is one of the reasons we shouldn’t discuss politics on Facebook with strangers. It can get a life of its own very quickly.

Several years ago I changed how I provide feedback on team members. I copy them in my response to the request. This places the burden on me to be truthful and consistent in what I write. If I write an area for improvement that I’ve never discussed with the subject of the feedback, then it’s my bad. I’m the one who needs to improve.

Project managers must have well-developed feedback skills. We are unable to lead a project if we’re not comfortable providing our team with on-the-spot relevant feedback on their performance. The first few times we do this it will be uncomfortable. Over time it becomes second nature and our team members will appreciate the opportunity to grow their skills. They will trust us more and the team as a whole will benefit. If you can’t provide performance feedback when an issue occurs, please find a new career field. Your teams deserve better leadership.

 

Don’t forget to purchase your copy of the almost best selling business book of 2017 – Haiku for Project Managers. Buy a copy for everyone on  your team.

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Getting to the starting line is sometimes the biggest challenge

I ran in my second half marathon last Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island. I was 86th in a field of 817 runners. They awarded medals to the top 3 in each age group. I was in 4th place for my age group. But that’s not the focus of this blog post.

The race started at 8:00. I woke up at 4:15, which totally surprised our cats. They felt like failures as I left the bed ahead of them. An hour later I was in my truck for the 1.5 hour drive to the parking lot. The last shuttle to the start was leaving at 7:00. My risk management plan included time to pull off the highway in case my hydrating resulted in the need to … you get the idea. I arrived at the lot at 6:35 and boarded the shuttle. I picked up my packet, stowed my warm clothes in a pack and checked them with the organizers. I walked around, took pictures and posted them on Instagram and Facebook. Eventually they called the racers to the start.

My plan was to finish under 8 minutes per mile (or 1:45 for the whole race) and not walk at all. I didn’t get caught up in racing other people. I raced myself. My training plan and my race plan worked. I finished at 1:42.

The day before the race I was talking to a colleague who runs marathons. He said that the hardest part of race day is getting to the start line. He wasn’t lying. I think this applies to many of our goals in life.

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Voice messages are sooo last century

A few years ago I was a contract project manager. I never set up the voicemail. Email is way easier. Instant messaging is way easier and faster. If I’m busy when you message me I may ask you to send an email instead.

I confess. I don’t know the password for my current voicemail. I keep it written down in a secret place for when I need it. In the two plus years in my role I’ve had about 10 voice mails. Nine of these were from the facilities management team telling me about office closures. The other one came from someone who was reaching out to help me with a technical issue. It took me several minutes to find my password and listen to the message. They let me know they called. They would call back again. NOOOO!!!!

It’s okay to call me. If I pick up, then we’re good. If I don’t pick up, hang up and send an email. It’s the kind thing to do. Voice mail is cruel and unusual punishment.

You can own the snarkiest project management book in print. I wrote it myself – Haiku for Project Managers.

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Why project management initiatives often fail

Generally the leadership in a company or business unit realizes they have a resourcing and/or execution problem. They know that transitioning to a project organization is the solution. They interview and hire someone who is experienced in building and leading a project team. They assure the person that leadership is committed to the success of project management.

After the new hire arrives and lays out the plan, the internal pushback begins. Everyone is too busy working on all the high priority work to even discuss how to change how they work. They explain to leadership that the new hire “doesn’t understand” how that specific industry/organization/company actually operates. The new hire lacks the connection with the employees to induce them to change and lacks the authority to bring in people with the right skills to implement project management.

The leadership team gets caught between the promises they made the new hire, and the fear that their legacy employees will be upset/hurt/jobless if they proceed forward on the agreed-upon path to success. They waiver in their commitment. They make excuses and compromise their goals.

The new hire becomes disillusioned and their engagement decreases. They start searching for another job. They leave. The company then decides that project management isn’t​ right for their organization. Whenever someone brings up the need for project management, that person will be told that it was tried, and it didn’t work. They should just learn how to function in the current environment.

What can leadership do to make sure that project management initiatives succeed?

Don’t forget to buy my almost best seller from Amazon.com. You’ll want to frame some of the haiku and hang them on your office wall.

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More controls overcome – drinking and driving workarounds

On my run today I noticed the number of alcohol nip bottles along the roads. Each time I saw one, I would see another a little further along the way. At no point was I able to run without seeing one. This was a 5 mile out and back, for a total of 10 miles.

Drinking and driving is illegal. Having an open alcohol container in the passenger compartment is also illegal. Rather than being economical in consumption of alcohol while driving, these people must be buying several small bottles. When they need their “fix” they knock one down and toss it out of their car window. Their total time blatantly breaking the law – less than 60 seconds.

If they get pulled over by the police between their nips they only have several small bottles still sealed. No law was broken. I thought about this as I ran. As I posted a few weeks ago, most controls are overcome. They force people to be more creative.

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