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Category: Career

Choosing the right tool (or person) for your current problem

All of us will need someone to help us at various points in life. It can be simple help, like how to find a cross-street while in a strange city. Or complicated, like what to do with the rest of our lives.

Make sure you pick the right person to provide the type of help you need. Asking an uncle who spent a career assembling widgets on a factory floor won’t help you much if you’re trying to resolve an issue with a challenging colleague or manager. Their skills may be more around the mechanical issues that arise in your life.

Aligning your needs with the expertise of the person you’re engaging will save both of you time and energy. Keep this in mind when you’re asked to help someone else. If you lack the context or expertise needed, let the person know this. Offer to connect them to someone who can provide better insight into resolving their issues.

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Breaking the rules for the organization’s good

Organizations put controls in place to minimize risks, measure productivity and outcomes, and to make more beautiful reports. These controls are often in direct conflict with individual work habits.

People bypass controls to be more productive because the tools provided by the organization aren’t meeting the person’s needs. Rarely do people bypass controls because they want to do something bad.

Organizations can learn a lot by determining why their employees bypass the controls. If they’re bypassing controls to do a better job, invest the time and money to provide them with a comparable approved tool to meet their needs. This is how an organization improves employee engagement and job satisfaction while driving up effectiveness.

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When project failure is a success

Sometimes our greatest success as a project manager is when we’re able to make the case that a project is failing and needs to be shut down. That no amount of optimism, extra efforts, or additional meetings will generate success.

Project managers must be the one place where facts override emotions. Where data shows clearly what the current status is. We need to be above the fray holding the facts to guide the team to the cold reality.

No project manager hopes to be the wielder of the reality stick. Yet we’re often all that stands between organizational bias and reality. It comes with our roles as project leaders.

What is your favorite project failure?

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Vulnerability is a core skill for a project manager

A good project for me is a complicated one. It’s full of potholes, obstacles, and dead ends. I’m forced to think through how to overcome the obstacles. I’m not always successful in my approach.

This is when I let myself be vulnerable. I confide in the core team that I’m currently stuck and unsure of how to proceed. I ask if they have any ideas to help us move forward. This vulnerability always provides results.

Being a project manager doesn’t mean we have to know all the answers. It’s often the questions we ask that are more important than knowing the answers.

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