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Category Archives: Appreciation

Pledge to be a Project Daymaker

How would you describe to a friend what a typical day in the shoes of a project manager is like?  Is your answer focused around the actual work, such as it is: challenging, stressful, never-ending to-do lists, or more about the people and the opportunities or gifts that you are given as a project manager to work with several different people and achieve great things that could make someone’s day that much brighter by the positive impacts that a project might on them or just having your presence to listen to them about a work related or personal topic?

In reading David Wagner’s book called “Life as a Daymaker,” he coined a term called Daymaking, which is a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place for all.  Of course, anyone and everyone can and should be Daymakers, but being fortunate to be in a role as a project manager, where you have the opportunity to work with so many people in a given day, you just might be the only person that they talk to/see that day, so saying “Hi” or simply expressing a smile on your face can make their day that much brighter in the workplace, which in turn makes your day that much more rewarding and enjoyable.

Below you will find some ideas for making your team members day, which were highlighted in David’s book:

  • Pass around birthday cards, get well cards, and anniversary, so everyone can sign them
  • Take your team members out for lunch on their birthday
  • If you read a good book, bring it in and give it to someone you think would also enjoy it
  • Know their children, spouse, or pet names
  • Write thank you notes when you think they did a good job, a customer complimented the, or they made your day
  • Smile and be happy to see them.  We all feel uplifted by people who like us
  • Bring them coffee, tea, cookies, or some other little treat
  • If someone is swamped with work, offer to pick up some lunch for them
  • If you need to correct any error or behavior, do it in a gentle, kind way that tells them that while they made a mistake, you still like them and believe in them

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

-Norman MacEwan

 

Valentine’s Baking Project

Valentine’s Day is a day focused a lot around flowers, cards, gifts, special dinners, and spending time with those that you love.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I absolutely love Valentine’s Day, along with all holidays, but the reason for this is because it provides me a great opportunity to show my appreciation for others.  (Plus it gives me a great excuse to bake something special to share with others).

This year, I had a great time making homemade Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes and Strawberry Cake Pops for my family, friends, and co-workers to enjoy.  Both of these projects lead to tons of fun in the kitchen, but as with most projects, you may run into challenges that you did not foresee. Before I get too far into my story, Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are basically an ice cream cone filled with cake batter, baked in the oven, cooled down, frosted and sprinkles are added on top.  Cake Pops are basically cooked cake with frosting added into the mixture, rolled into a round ball, then covered with chocolate & sprinkles on a lollypop stick (Starbucks sells these, but they are so easy and cheaper to make).

Although the ice cream cone cupcakes were pretty easy to make, I found the most challenging task was figuring out how I was going to transport these dessert cones from my home to work.  I could not simply place them on a tray, as they were top-heavy and would fall over.  Here were some ideas I thought of to resolve this challenge:

  1. Cut holes in a paper plate to put the cones in, but it won’t hold that many on each plate
  2. Use a deep-dish 9 X 13 foil pan and skewers to poke holes in both directions to make a checker board to hold the cones up
  3. Turn the foil 9 X 13 plan over, cut circles on the bottom of the foil tray, and place the cones in the holes
  4. Purchase a custom ice cream cone cupcake tray

Some of you may have opted out for the easy solution of purchasing a special tray, but is that the most cost-effective solution?  What if I never made ice cream cones again or having to store the tray?  This baking example is exactly the type of challenges we face as project managers, as sometimes you are only given with what you have and are challenged to use your creative juices to figure out how to get to the end goal, while keeping cost, resources, and time in mind.  Each of my baking solutions may not have a large different in cost between the 4 ideas, but overtime you may be wasting valuable resources, time, and money without trying to think outside the box for better solutions.

Are you creative?  Do you look to others to come up with out of the box solutions? Do you tend to choose the easy-button option?  What helps you to think creatively?  Please comment below with your thoughts, as I would enjoy reading them. 

I hope each of you have a very special Valentine’s Day! 🙂

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Project Turkey Management

While preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting task for any individual, I thought to myself, what better way to look at this most anticipated meal that comes once a year, in terms of project management!  First, we’ll look at the 5 Phases of Project Turkey Management.

5 Phases of Project Turkey Management:

  1. Initiate: Come up with the idea of Thanksgiving Dinner plans with family and friends
  2. Plan: Gather recipes, make a shopping list, make a WBS, make sure you communicate plans to family/friends
  3. Execute: Cook the dinner
  4. Monitor/Control: Make sure the food is ready to enjoy by all
  5. Closing: Meal ends and ask your guests to provide feedback on the meal

Create a WBS for the Thanksgiving Meal: 

  • Outline the highest level of the courses of the meal: Appetizers, Salad, Main Course, Dessert, and Drinks
  • Under each course, add the individual dishes you wish to serve
  • Further sub-divide the individual dishes by adding the major & minor ingredients, which helps you to prepare the shopping list or “project bill of materials”

How can Project Management Skills help with the Thanksgiving Meal?

  • Help plan your holiday dinner with all the dishes ready to serve at the desired time
  • Planning ahead helps to ensure you have the sufficient time and room to bring it all together at the desired target for a large crowd.
  • Help reduce the number of trips and time spent in the grocery store
  • Help organize and determine which dishes you should prepare first & cook to optimize on your oven/microwave/stove time
  • Increase efficiencies in the cooking process
  • Reduce the number of surprises

Have you ever planned your special Thanksgiving meal using tools from your Project Management toolbox?

I am very thankful for my family, friends, and tangible things, such as a home and food, but also for my followers of my blog.  I started this project management blog earlier this year and I have been absolutely blessed with the opportunity to meet so many project managers from around the world and learn from you!  I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family friends and enjoyed some yummy turkey with all of the fixing! 🙂

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Importance of Sharing News Internally

At work, I manage projects that are focused around Customer Promotions, Pricing, and IT projects for a large international company with over 5,000 employees.  I will say, it always amazes me how you can go from a basic project idea, with a few people, to having touched so many different individuals and departments throughout the implementation of the project.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a supervisor at my work to prepare an hour presentation to talk to his team about our customers promotions and a few other projects I manage.  I will say this presentation and other presentations I have given to departments are always an absolute honor and joy to do!  I love getting to meet new people, learn from others and what they do for our organization, gain some very insightful feedback, and enjoy providing others with helpful information that hopefully will make some part of their job easier.

Benefits of Internal Meetings:

  • Get A Different View From Other Users:  I have held several lessons learned sessions with my project team after a project was implemented and have gained great feedback and suggestions, but think it is important to also talk with other “behind the scenes” users and departments that are outside of your project team to hear how they are impacted and what their feedback is, as it can also be quite powerful information
    • For example:
      • I have talked to those that audit our sales orders to make sure they understand the promotion, so the orders can be scrubbed to verify they are entered correctly and met the requirements of the promotion
      • I have talked to several sales representatives to get their feedback on our customer promotions, ways to improve the rollout process, and ask if they have any new customer promotion ideas that we can look into implementing, as they have the best knowledge of our customer’s needs
      • I have talk to those that run reports based off our promotions to make sure they report the information correctly and understand what the results mean, as they send these report to upper management
  • Put Faces With Names: You may send several e-mails or talk to co-workers over the phone, but it is always nice to put a faces with a names, as it provides you an opportunity to get to know your fellow co-workers better and see their non-verbal communication in real-life
  • Build A Strong Human Network:  By meeting more and more new people, it allows you to build a strong network of “go-to” people to ask questions to, instead of just picking a random person in the corporate directory
  • Learn & Share Information: It allows you to share information with both parties to give each other heads up on any potential impacts of a given project and possibly help others in their day-to-day job responsibilities
  • Appreciate Others: By getting to meet others and learn how your projects impact others, you can paint a better picture in your mind on how many people are impacted by the projects you implement, which leads me to appreciate everyone and all of their behind the scenes and hard work even more

No matter how big or small a project is, the impacts can be felt across several different individuals and departments.  My advice is to take a moment, every now and then, and get to know others in your organization, as it helps build a tighter and stronger team, that results in helping everyone and the overall business in the end.

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Social Media for the Project Manager

Since beginning my Project Management Blog and Twitter accounts in February of this year, I must say it has been quite a fun journey!  I have enjoyed meeting new people from around the world, learning more about project management from others posting fantastic content, and providing me the opportunity to put myself out there for others to judge in the hope that I can provide provides useful tips for other project managers.

I honestly cannot believe this is my 60th blog post, but I would not have met this milestone if it wasn’t for an MBA course I heard from a friend called “Personal Branding” and was taught at the University of Nevada, Reno by Professor Bret SimmonsBret has truly opened my eyes to social media and showed me the great value and opportunities it can bring to not only an individual, but for any organization.

Some Things I Have Learned Through My Social Media Journey:

  • Blogs Allow Back-and-Forth Conversation: Most websites have information about their business, such as their: company name, contact information, services they provide, a few photos, where they are located, and basically a blast of information to the user. Blogs provide others with the opportunity to communicate back and forth between people, which provides a personal touch between your business and consumers.
  • Blogs Provide Helpful Information For Others: It is important when you add a blog onto your website that you focus your content on helpful tips or information that will help the user.  You want to appear as “the” expert in your field, so people will come to you for help and if they ever need your service or product, they know exactly where to go or who they will recommend to their friends.  Don’t just focus on special deals that are going on in your blogs, but helpful how to tips or history or something useful.
  • Adding Content Acts = SEO: By posting content on your blog, it acts like a search engine optimizer that will improve your google search results.  Google yourself today, then start blogging!  See how fast your name will start moving it’s way to the first page, if it’s not already on the first page now.
  • Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon: People are using social media platforms to talk and share content with others, so you want to be where others are to see what they are saying about your business (good/bad), what you can offer to the social media community, and most of all, it’s a free way to showcase your business for others to learn more about your products/services.
  • Put Yourself Out There For Others To Judge: Although it may be scary to post content that the entire world can access or better yet, post a video post so others can see what you look like and sound like, in the end, it can really help you grow as an individual by allowing others to comment and provide you with feedback to improve upon.  Another great benefit is you can help reach others to learn more about you if they only watch videos, read content, listen to audio, etc.
  • It’s Fun And Provides A Great Learning Environment: I have really enjoyed getting to know several project managers from around the world, read about their experiences, learn more about project management, ask for advice, and implement a lot of what I have learned through my social media experience in my day-to-day job.

I want to thank Bret for introducing me to this new experience of social media! I also want to thank all of my loyal followers for your support and advice with me, so I can continue to learn more about the project management field!

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Delegation in Project Management, Part 2

Now that you have decided to delegate some work to another individual, I thought it may be helpful to have a checklist of items you should do when you delegate work to another person:

  1. Clearly Articulate:
    1. What is the job responsibility is?
    2. What is the desired outcome/end goal Is?
    3. What is expected and what are the deliverables?
    4. What is the schedule or deadlines in the job responsibility?
    5. Who can help if the individual has any issues?
    6. Why they were chosen for the job?  This provides you with an opportunity to provide positive feedback about the individual, such as: the person has a great attention to detail or they have a great sense of developing better processes to increase efficiencies.
  2. Provide Past Job History:  How the job was developed/came to you, as the tribal knowledge should be passed down and not forgotten.  This knowledge may be helpful in future decisions
  3. Define the Boundaries: Where are the lines of authority drawn, what level of responsibility does the individual have, and what they are accountable for.  Example: If the person has to go through 5 people to get proper sign off before they can implement X, this is important information to pass along to the individual
  4. Buck Stops With You: Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, but you still are accountable in making sure the task is completed and up to standards
  5. Provide Proper Training: In-house hands-on training, classes taught at an institute, and/or documentation
  6. Provide Adequate Support:  Be available to answer questions by having a good communication path
  7. Focus on the Results:  Rather nitpick detail-by-detail of how the work should be done, you should focus on the overall accomplishment, as your way may not be the most efficient way
  8. Build Motivation and Commitment:  What does the future hold for taking on this new role, such as: financial rewards, future opportunities, recognition
  9. Establish and Maintain Control:  Agree upon a schedule of checkpoints to answer any questions and make sure everything is being handled.  This gives you the ability to make any necessary modifications to meet a deadline or if things are not working out as planned
  10. Review Final Work: Review and provide feedback on the individual’s work results, so the person understands they are held accountable for what results they produced.  If you are not satisfied with the work and accept it, the individual does not fully learn the job responsibility or worse, accept the fact that poor work is acceptable

Finally, it is important to recognize and reward the individual for their hard work.  Showing appreciation for others can sure go a long way towards building a strong team member’s self-confidence and efficiencies, which creates a win-win situation.

What are other key points should be discussed when delegating.  Please comment below. 

 

The Art of Appreciation

Thanking someone for all of their hard work is trait not only a project manager should practice, but anyone and anytime someone is helping you out. A simple thank you can go a long way and can help motivate others to continue to work and help you out in the future. There are several ways to thank others, such as:

1)      Verbally: Take time to say “Thank You” to someone in person.  It just take seconds to minutes to do, but can make someone’s day by having someone recognizing their hard work.  It is important when thanking someone to let them know what you are thanking them for.

2)      Hand-Written Card: In the age where we receive several electronic correspondence and bills via snail mail, it is rare that a person receives a personal, hand-written thank you card in the mail anymore.    I personally really enjoy receiving hand-written cards in the mail, as they mean so much to me that someone would take time in their busy lives to write a letter and show their appreciation for me.  This is an added touch when interviewing for a job, to send a thank you, as it makes you stand out from other applicants and shows that you are interested in the position.

3)      Phone Call: If you may not be able to verbally thank someone in person, picking up the phone and talking with them, hearing their voice brings a personal touch.  With text messaging and e-mails, many people are not as interpersonal, as in the past.

4)      Food/Drinks: Taking time out of your day and take someone or your team out for lunch or coffee gives those you are appreciation a small token for all their hard work.  Also, the fact that you are taking time to get to know the person you are treating to lunch or coffee show you care about them and gives a personal touch to the thank you. I enjoy baking in my spare time, so I often bring in little goodies to my co-workers and those helping me out.  This shows my appreciation of working with them, but also I am able to have lots of taste-tasters so I can try tons of new recipes out. 🙂

5)      E-mail/Text Message: In our busy lives, taking time to e-mail or send a text to someone is much appreciated.  I rather see someone in person or hear their voice on the phone, but e-mail or a text is easier in our hectic, technology-driven lives.

6)      Meeting/Awards Recognition:  Taking time during your meetings to thank those for their hard work and/or having a department awards recognition event lets others know what each other’s contributions are to help motivate the entire team.

7)      Small Gifts:  Another option outside of verbal or written thank you’s to show appreciation could be surprising someone with flowers or Starbucks Card or something that individual enjoys.  For example, I enjoy baking, so I was given a big cookie baking pan from my department as an appreciation gift.  Please note, a verbal or written thank you means more than nothing at all, so it is not necessary to purchase a gift to show your appreciation, as I value hearing words or reading correspondence that comes from the heart, than receiving a gift, but an option.

It is important to let others know what they mean to you and how they have impacted your life.   Honestly, our time on earth is short, so you don’t want to leave people guessing how someone’s help or how they impacted your life, as you never know when it will be too late.  Think about someone or several people in your life that has helped you and take time to thank them, as it will brighten one’s day and make both of you feel good.

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