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Category Archives: Project Team

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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Delegation in Project Management, Part 1

Are you stressed, unhappy, feeling you’re letting people down because you have too much more? Think about delegating.

Delegation to me it isn’t solely about off-loading work you don’t like, but rather, think about the opportunities delegation can do to promote personal growth for an individual and your organization overall.

Why Delegating Is Good:

  • Promotes Learning
  • Develops New Skills
  • Encourages Others to Reach Their Full Potential in the Organization
  • New Mindset promotes New Way of Thinking, Which can Increase Efficiencies/Processes
  • Trained Back-Up
  • Save Time and Money
  • Builds People and Team Skills
  • Motivate Others
  • Ability to let you focus more time on those skills of yours that provides the most value to an organization, where it is managing a project or developing a strategy or making decisions

Refrain from Delegating:

  • Upfront Costs: Training takes time, cost money (salary/class), and patience is required to make sure the new person is setup for success
  • Perfectionism: You have to learn to let go and trust your project team will help you meet your end goals, but also manage their progress
  • No Dirty Work: You feel others will think all you do is manage and are not part of the team doing any busy work.  I feel the opportunity for growth through mentorship is such an added value and can be thought of like a new found treasure that motivates and excites others.

When to Delegate:

  • Someone else has the necessary information or expertise to complete the task
  • Does the skill set provide an opportunity for growth in another individual

Factors to Think About When Delegating:

  • Do you have enough time to properly train an individual, answer questions, check the progress, and make modifications to the workload as necessary?  Is there any project deadlines?
  • What if failure occurs and the wrong match to delegate to doesn’t work out, it is crucial to the business?  Are there anything else that will be impacted

How To Find that Perfect Match?

  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Skills Set
  • Work Style
  • Current workload/Does it require reshuffling job responsibilities?
  • Those that are closest to that type of work, as they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work

Please look forward to Part 2, which will provide you with a checklist on “How to Delegate.”  

What obstacles have you faced when delegating?  Please comment below. 

 

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! 🙂
 

Change Through Project Managers

As a project manager, we are constantly changing an existing process or creating new ones, as part of the implementation process of a project.  You may encounter resistance to these changes from a project team member or other individuals that are influenced by the project, which becomes a challenging task to try to convenience others why the change is necessary.    

Why Are People Resistance to Change?

  • Fear of the Unknown:  Example-The introduction of a new computer system may bring resistance by users as it introduces ambiguity into what was once a comfort zone for most using the old technology and becomes a problem when there is little or no communication about the change
  • Fear of Failure: Employees may fear that change will result in an increase workload, performance expectations,  or task difficulty, where they may question their own competencies for handling these
  • Fear of Loss: Employees may fear they are going to lose their job when introducing advanced technology, for example, as they feel their expertise is not relevant anymore by the installation of more user-friendly, networked information systems or lose the positive qualities or the individual enjoys in that career position
  • Personality Conflicts: When the change agent/project manager’s personality creates negative reactions or appears insensitive to employee concerns and feelings, employees feel their needs are not being taken into account
  • Disruption of Interpersonal Relationships: A new computerized system could replace the one-on-one interaction with a person, as a computer replaces the human’s processes with the touch of a few buttons on the computer

How to Manage Resistance to Change?

  • Communication: Let others know of the impending change, which includes the details of the change and the rationale behind the change, as employees will want to know why the change is needed.  Answer the 5-P’s (Who, What When, Why, Where) If there is no good reason for the change, then why should others favor the change?
  • Participation: Involve those effected in the change in the project process, as a sense of ownership is established and they become more committed to the change, as they played a role in the process
  • Empathy & Support: Actively listen to identify the reasons behind the resistance to uncover each person’s fears, which can provide you with feedback that you can use to improve the change process.  Emotional support and encouragement through a the project manager can help reduce the resistance, as they know someone cares about their concerns

Tips:

  • Plan for Resistance and be ready with a variety of strategies for using the resistance as feedback and helping employees negotiate the transition
  • Put yourself in other people’s shoes in what you are signing others up to change/do
  • Take note of all feedback you receive from those that are resistance to see what you can do to help them reduce or eliminate their resistance
  • Demonstrate/Visuals of how the new changes will help them (New Software Program in Action/Training Session), as seeing can lead towards believing

 What tips have helped you to better manage resistance to change from others?

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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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Weeds in Project Management

What are Weeds?  Are they useless, ugly things that people decide to removed from their garden to prevent them from taking over their garden? 

Did You Know There Are Useful Weeds? I do not have a degree in botany, but have read articles about plants, some of which we would determine as weeds & remove, but some weeds do have uses to help in cure several health issues or even can be used in crafts.  For example: Dandelions: The petals are edible and used as garnish in a salad.  You can also make tea and wine from them.

So, How does Weeds Tie Back to Project Management?

As a project manager, we manage several individuals to help us to meet the end goals of the project, so ponder these questions with me:

  1. If a project team member does not meet their deadline, do you address the issue, or let it go, so that others knows that is an acceptable practice?  This behavior can then spread throughout the team like weeds in a garden.
  2. How do you know which project team member would bring the best value to a project versus someone else?  How do you know which person/plant to add to your garden, leave/continue to grow in your garden/team or remove from your garden/team?
  3. Do you know everyone’s strengths & weaknesses that they bring to a project team, so each team member is shown in the best light or best utilized?  If you knew that a team member/plant has experience/uses in something that would best bring value to the team/garden, wouldn’t it be good to know, so you can utilize that extra resource/use in your project?

What if a project team member:

  •  Does not have the best communication skills to win the best first impression award, but they may be an excellent IT programmer
  • Does not have the best time management skills, but they have a large vast of knowledge and experience in the project’s topic and willing to share
  • Does not work best in a large meeting environment to brainstorm ideas, but feels more comfortable communicating through e-mail or a one-on-one meeting environment

People could be thought of as an analogy to weeds, as we come in variety of different shapes, sizes, colors and each have different uses. We are not perfect, as each of us have our strengths, weaknesses, and best working practices we each can bring to the table.  Do you just give up on someone or hope they just go away like a weed or remove them from your project team?  With any project, each team member is working towards the same end goal, so helping and learning from each other to make everyone shine best in their light, makes the team stronger and sets up everyone up for success.

Maybe I just provided you with a great excuse to get you out of removing any further weeds out of your garden now?!  🙂  Maybe also a different way of thinking of project team members as a project manager?! 🙂 Please share your comments below, as I would love to hear from you.

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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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