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Category Archives: My Experience

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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What’s Your Project Management Story?

When growing up, I told my parents I wanted to be graphics designer, then physical therapy, then teacher, and then finally decided on a career path in Information Systems that provided me with a business background. Throughout my student experience in high school and college, you would find me as the project leader in several group assignments, as I enjoyed the process of organizing team meetings, keeping everyone up to date on the project progress, and lastly putting together the report to turn in.  School projects can sure be a challenge sometimes when working around everyone’s schedules, but you start to get a favor of project management in action.

After getting my feet wet in the technical field for a few years, I later fell into a project management position where I got to use my technical and management skills to help improve the process for others in their day-to-day job and the organization as a whole.  Although project management can be stressful at times, it can also be a rewarding experience knowing that you can influence other people and open the door to new opportunities for an organization through your management skills.

What Are Some Tips I’ve Learned Thus Far As a Project Manager:

  • Find a Mentor:  I tend to surround myself with several mentors that have a variety of experiences and expertise, so I can bounce ideas off of and receive different viewpoints on a given topic.
  •  Lead a Non-Profit Organization: It can be challenge at times trying to motivate others to help you do things for free, but through the kindness of their hearts knowing their service is appreciated.  I will say it has been such a rewarding experience and will help you grow not only as a leader, but as becoming a better person.
  • Read Project Management Books & Blogs:  I cannot tell you how much I have learned through my experience of reading PM books and blog posts, as it can provide you with several tips and experiences of things to avoid or do that can help you in your project management career.  
  • Ask for Advice: It may be intimating at first, but several people are willing to help you if you just ask them.  I have asked others my colleagues, family, friends, and my twitter friends, and have really appreciated the feedback I have received.
  • Never Give Up: Trust me, you will make mistakes, you will be stressed at times, you may feel everything is going wrong and just want to quit, but remember, I find it is important that people remember me for my hard-work, dedication and persistence to learn from my mistakes, take a breather every now and then, and know there are steep mountains that you will face, but never give up on the end goal.  
  • Keep a Smile On Your Face: Although managing projects can be very stressful with changes, issues, and new projects flying your way all the time, I find it is so important to keep a smile on your face and keep a positive attitude as others will appreciate your upbeat personality that could just make someone’s day that much better
I have enjoyed my career path thus far in project management and find I am always excited to face the next challenge, as I know each experience will allow me to grow further not only on a professional level, but also as person too!  So, what is your project management story?
 

Status Reports for the Project Manager/Beekeeper

As we checked the health of our bee hives this morning in Reno, Nevada, we found the busy bees have produced about 60 lbs of honey, of which, approximately 80 lbs of honey that is produced in a given hive box each year, that is just waiting to be placed into jars!  As we look forward to the honey production process to begin later next month, it reminds me of a similar process a project manager goes through when checking the status of a given project with his or her project team members.  Both a beekeeper and a project manager conduct daily/weekly/monthly status updates, so each are kept informed of the overall project status to compare against the project plan.

Whether the project updates are done through a meeting, conference call, or e-mail correspondence, it is important to set aside time on a reoccurring basis so you are kept aware of any issues that may arise.

Determine the Following for your Status Report Meetings:

  1. Who is the Audience:  List of project team members & stakeholders
  2. Meeting Frequency: Depending on the deadline and what stage of the project you are in, you may begin with monthly or weekly meetings, then setup daily meetings during the testing/implementation phase.
  3. Meeting Timing: Same time each week is preferable
  4. Purpose:  To communicate a daily/weekly/monthly progress on the project to the project team and stakeholders.
  5. Method: In-person meeting, conference call, e-mails correspondence.

Status Report Should Include:

  1. Project Name
  2. Meeting Time/Date
  3. List of Project Team Members
  4. All Project Tasks Listed Out
  5. Tasks % Completed & Detail of What Is Completed & Remains to be Completed
  6. Task Start & Finish Date
  7. Resources Working on Each Task
As a project manager/beekeeper, we check the health of our hive boxes on a weekly basis by getting dressed into our bee suits and proceed through the process you can enjoy watching in the video above. We take weekly status reports on the honey levels in each hive box and the health of the honey bees, so we ensure we have a good honey production each year so we can share with our family and friends, otherwise we would not be able to enjoy this wonderful treat of local honey! 🙂
 

Project-Life Balance

With the crazy hustle and bustle in the life of a project manager, who is responsible for managing several different projects at any given time, we sometimes don’t make time for ourselves to relax and spend quality time with our family and friends.  Also, you may have a difficult time finding balance in your live due to layoffs, cutbacks, and because honestly, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  As Stephan Covey says in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” focus your time and attention on things you can control, such as:

  1. Build Downtime into your Schedule
  2. Drop Activities that Take up your Time and Energy
  3. Rethink your Errands; have others help you
  4. Exercise Helps you be More Alert and Ready for What the Day Brings
  5. Remember, Just a Little Relaxation Goes a Long Way

Work-Life Balance Does Not Mean

  • You Will Have an Equal Balance
  • Will Vary Throughout Your Life, Due to Your Changing Goals/Focus
  • Not One Size Fits All
As my boss once said (Because we work at a large gaming company), “IGT made slot machines before you were employed here, so they will continue to make slot machines when you are not around.”  It is a profound statement to think about.  Remember, you never know when your last moment to spend time with loves ones will be, so take time for yourself and those that you love to spend precious time with to create lasting memories, as work will always be there when you return. 🙂
 

The Patient Project Manager

One word: Patience.  It may be an easy word to say, but not always easy to do.  So, why is that? 

As a project manager, we are faced with managing several different projects, which can lead to stress, worrying about meeting deadlines, anxious about seeing the end of a project, or even bombarded by tons of e-mails/phone calls, when you have a full plate of work.

Why is Being Patient so Important?

  • Not only is being patient a good practice at work, but also in your personal life, as it will make others feel better and happier to be around you/work with you
  • It is a form of showing respect and care for others
  • The positive behavior can spread throughout the organization and at home, which makes both environment that much better to live/work in, but if you’re stressed and impatient, this behavior can also spread
  • Can lead to a healthier life

What Can You Do To Become/Show You’re More Patient?

  • Put a Smile on Your Face: Wither you are talking on the phone, writing an e-mail, or talking to someone, put a smile on when you talk to someone in person or on the phone or through e-mail
  • Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes: This helps to remind you that things do take time
  • Expect the Unexpected:  Your plans don’t always work out as intended, so accept the twists and turns in life gracefully and keep expectations realistic
  • Remember What Matters Most: If you don’t focus on what matters most in life, then it fuels impatience.  Be generous in forgiveness, grateful for what you have, and take full advantage of what matters the most in life.  Don’t get worked up over the small stuff
  • Patience Can Get You Places:  If you work hard at something and be patient, it can open more doors of opportunities in life, whether it is job related in tasks or positions or relationships with others

Life can be crazy as a project manager with several balls you may be juggling at any given time, but it’s important to take a moment to reflect on your behavior, as that behavior (impatient/stressed/worried), can all be easily sensed by your project members and spread throughout the organization.

It takes practice to become more patient and can certainly be hard at times, but remember, for every minute you are impatient/upset, you lose 60 seconds of be happy!

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Are You Remarkable Project Manager?

You may think to yourself, if I work harder than most project manager, help the organization become more efficient, save the organization lots of money through the implementation of a project, have strong execution skills, work well with others, and the list may go on, but at the end of the day, I must be a remarkable project manager. Well, if there are other project managers out there that have similar results, then what makes you remarkable and stand out from them?

What Does Remarkable Mean:

Worthy of being or likely to be noticed especially as being uncommon or extraordinary (According to Merriam-Webster)

Some Characteristics of Being Remarkable Are:

  • Unique/Different
  • Stand out/In front of/Apart from others
  • Well respected by others
  • Risk-Takers
  • Proactive
  • Live their lives to the fullest
  • Adventurous lives
  • Role Model for others
  • Large vast of life experience
  • Others remark about you
  • Get noticed and rewarded
  • Go the extra mile

Importance Notes of Being Remarkable:

  • Help you get a new job
  • Help you to become less dispensable in an organization/job security
  • Become the go-to person/mentor
  • Sets you up for a successful career path

What makes you remarkable that sets you apart from other project managers?

 

Employee Feedback Importance

I was recently nominated to participate in an Employee Advisory Committee, at the place where I work, which began on Tuesday of this week.  This committee is made up 18 individuals, from different departments, which are then broken into smaller groups to work on a 1 of 3 posed questions that upper management decides upon, for a 1-year term.  Each team is to then take their question and put together a project presentation to present their findings from employee feedback and research on the topic to upper management.  The information provided to management hopefully helps in their decision-making process to provide an action plan that best fits the needs of employees in all levels of the organization.

During my first two days of the kick-off meeting, it has been quite an interesting and fun experience!  We each experienced:

  1. A presentation from our Chief of Staff Officer that provided us with a management overview of the organization of where we are and where we are headed.
  2. Listen to a few presentations from other senior managers
  3. Took a tour to learn more about our production line and how they build slot machines
  4. Enjoyed socializing with the committee members at a bowling event

Take-Aways From This Experience Thus Far:

  1. Face-to-Face:  Several of the committee members I had sent e-mails/called, but to put a face makes it more personable and you can get to know them better
  2. Become More Aware:  Understand the organization you work for better through management presentations, how your role plays a part in the organization, and how other people’s roles play a part in the organization
  3. Expand Your Network: By having a committee made up of several different people from several different departments, you now have a list of additional contacts and knowledge base to add to your network that you are able to communicate with and help you in your day-to-day job
  4. Share the Knowledge: Opportunity to ask upper management any question that was on our mind and get more of a one-on-experience by working in a smaller committee group size.  This also allows you to take that knowledge back to your department and inform others what you have learned from the presentations and experience
  5. New Experiences: Work with new people that each have different views, diverse levels of experience, and different techniques/tools to bring to the table

Importance of Employee Feedback Sessions:

  1. Essential for an organizational success to tell & keep managers updated about the organizations SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  2. Allows upper management to address issues/challenges
  3. Employees are the mediator between managers & customers, so this allows management to stay informed about customer-facing issues and ways to improve
  4. Allows the employee to help play a role in upper management decision-making

I am looking forward to this opportunity to learn more, on so many different levels, and grow more both as project manager and as a individual.

Have any of the organizations you have worked for ever had an employee advisory committee?  What are your experiences/feedback from it?

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