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Tag: Projectmanagement

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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Running projects

There’s no indicator of how things will go at the start. We may have done this before, or maybe it’s more, or less complicated than the other times. We can start with lots of confidence or start without any. The path to the end will be different each time. Sometimes getting to the start line is enough for success. Other times it’s the easiest part.

We collect our tools, come up with a plan, then start. Maybe we sprint at the beginning, then settle into a rhythm until the end. Or we may start with a good rhythm, then have to vary our effort to maintain momentum. We draw energy from those around us. Or they suck the energy from us. We never know.

This is what I pondered as I ran my second half marathon of the year, and the third one in my life. I felt a little weak at the start and decided to just run without any expectations or goals. There were over 500 runners on the scenic Westport, MA course. I started near the front and settled into a decent pace. At about the 6 mile mark I started to feel confidence that I’d go the distance. I finished 22nd overall, and 4th in my age group. It was a personal record for a half marathon.

Long runs are a lot like projects. There are so many variables, that we can’t easily predict an outcome at the start. All we can do is monitor and adjust our efforts as the variables change.

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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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