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Category: Career

Tools don’t make us competent

Years ago I worked at a company that published content. When we needed a new editor, we’d hire random people from the produce department at the grocery store next to our offices. We’d then teach them how to use Microsoft Word. After a few training sessions, they were able to immediately create high impact content that engaged the audience and drove revenue.

Okay, I lied in the above paragraph. I’m making a point. All too often organizational leadership confuses tools with advanced professional skills. They think that if we just brought the right tools in, the current employees will suddenly do their jobs better. They miss an immutable truth about how to succeed. The first goal must be hiring people with the right skills. We then need to define the best process to get the work completed. The last step in the process is to provide tools that support the processes and complement the skills of the team.

People, process, then tools. No changes can take place without following this linear path. The short term pain of the changes will be much less severe than the failure of trying to teach unskilled people how to use a tool they see no value in using.

My almost best selling project management book is a great read. Many readers tell me how they read on section per day to allow the ideas to settle in. If you decide to purchase a copy, please write a review.

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Trust relies on transparency

 Trust is like an egg. Once you break it, you can’t get it back to its original state.

Always use real dates. Ensure that your teams understand that the dates aren’t padded. That late is actually late. That someone else will need to make up their lost time.

We can’t be effective as a project manager if our teams can’t trust us. When we provide inaccurate deliverable dates to hedge our bets that the deliverable will be late or will need rework, we send a clear signal that we can’t be trusted, because we don’t trust the team. This translates into not being taken seriously the next time we send out a schedule.

With only a couple weeks left this summer, be sure to purchase my almost best selling book from Amazon. It’s under $10, and is Prime eligible. Sales were brisk in June. July was a little slow. Let’s end the summer with a bang!

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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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