By Peter Tarhanidis
These days there is such a high influx of projects and such a demand for project managers, but such a limited supply of practitioners. How can companies help their project professionals improve their skills and knowledge so that they can work to meet that need?
Leaders deliver more results by sponsoring grassroots project management learning and development programs. Common approaches and best practices are shared across all levels of project managers—ranging from novices to practitioners. Therefore, if an organization has more employees who can learn to leverage project management disciplines, then the organization can meet the increasing demand, and are more likely to develop mature practices that achieve better results.
One type of grassroots effort is to establish a project management community of practice (CoP). CoPs are groups of people who share a craft or a profession. Members operationalize the processes and strategies they learn in an instructional setting. The group evolves based on common interests or missions with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field.
For project managers, there is a specific added benefit of CoPs. They bring together a group who are traditionally part of separately managed units within an organization focused on strategic portfolios and programs.
CoP members develop by sharing information and experiences, which in turn develops professional competence and personal leadership. CoPs are interactive places to meet online, discuss ideas and build the profession’s body of knowledge. Knowledge is developed that is both explicit (concepts, principles, procedures) and implicit (knowledge that we cannot articulate).
In my experience, I have seen CoP utilized in lieu of project management offices. The members define a common set of tools, process and methodology. The CoP distributed work across more participants, increased their productivity to deliver hundreds of projects, improved the visibility of the members with management and positioned members for functional rotations throughout the business.
Which do you think drive better performance outcomes—establishing hierarchal project management organizations or mature project management disciplines through CoPs?
by Dave Wakeman
Has your leadership style evolved to reflect the modern business environment?
Old leadership styles put a premium on command and control, which made sense when there weren’t so many specializations.
Now, our culture, and the way many of our projects are organized, requires that we are more collaborative and more focused on enabling our teams. Let’s call this “leadership by empowerment.”
Having fully engaged and empowered teams is now a key to project success.
If you are struggling with adopting this new leadership style, here are a few tips to help you build empowerment in your teams:
1. Focus on communication: With all of the tools at our disposal, you would think communication and information sharing would be easier than ever.
But it isn’t.
In most cases, it feels like our communications are hampered more than ever by all of the noise and demands from technology. But knowledge is empowerment and if you want to empower your team to maximize its impact, you need to renew your focus on communications and getting people the right information at the right time. You can do this by clearly spelling out the way that you will communicate with your team and how they should communicate back with you. You can create areas, tools and methods for accessing the most important information. A tool like Slack may be a way that you can better organize your information.
2. Allow your subject matter experts to be experts: In projects it is easy to lose focus on the fact that as the leader, you can’t know everything. This can cause project managers to want to dictate every action and every possible scenario to your team members, but that is a clear path to friction, delay and failure.
As the project manager, your job is to put your team of experts in a position to succeed. One way I do this is by setting outcome-based goals for my teams with clear check-in points so that I can understand the status of tasks and activities , but give my team members the power to do the work in a manner that they feel is best.
3. Provide continuous opportunities to learn and grow: We talk a lot about constant learning and development, but how much of that is just lip service? To help empower your teams, spend some time developing the skills that are truly going to help deliver better results for your organization (not just the ones that are going to help your team members learn something new).
You can do this by creating a training calendar or schedule that focuses on mission critical tasks, sharing best practices or interesting new ideas, or inviting in guest speakers.
Remember, your job is to use the tools you have at your disposal to make sure your leadership empowers your team to do the best work they can for you.
How do you empower your team members?
If you enjoyed this piece, you will really enjoy the weekly newsletter. It is my most personal and strategic content delivered each Sunday morning to your inbox. Make sure you never miss it! Sign up here or send me an email at email@example.com!
How to Influence Others
by Lynda Bourne
I recently wrote a post about influencing without authority, which looked at building credibility and “currency” to trade for the support you need. Those ideas buy you a seat at the table. This post looks at ways you can influence situations to move everyone to a satisfactory outcome once you’re at that table.
Smart influencers recognise it is often futile to work against powerful resistance. Rather than fighting the situation (and making it worse) they look for subtle ways to influence the outcome. Key methods of smart influencers include:
The ability to influence people is a key leadership skill. One way to acquire the skill is to watch others in a group situation and see how the people who are influencing attitudes and actions are behaving. Then try emulating their behaviours in your next meeting.
How effective are you at influencing others?
by Wanda Curlee
I recently came across an article by consultant Melanie Nelson about project management and situational awareness. In the article, Nelson argues that project managers need to be more than just technically savvy.
They must also be able to see the bigger picture and understand the context they are working in—including industry culture, employee pain points and the other projects and business goals competing for attention in the company. They must hone their situational awareness.
Situational awareness is the ability to understand what is happening around you, why it is happening and what you need to do or not do in reaction. Some call this a soft skill, but I believe it goes further than that.
As rookie project managers, we learn about which processes and procedures are done in what order. However, project managers with situational awareness may question, for example, whether or not all steps in the process need to be completed, what processes must be changed to accommodate the needs of the organization or even if the correct methodology is being used.
For a software project, that could mean questioning if agile or waterfall is the best approach or if lean should be used instead. To paraphrase Nelson, she loves Kanban but she knows that it is not appropriate for all projects.
Situational awareness is a skill beyond understanding earned value management, creating status reports, or managing conference calls and client meetings.
It is about asking, for example, in those client meetings questions such as:
Do you have the attention of the client? Are the right people in the conference room? If not, why not? What will you do about it?
It is not easy and takes a lot of practice.
Do you have the situational awareness needed for your project?
By Conrado Morlan
During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you may have seen them on TV: men around the Olympic pool in red trunks and yellow t-shirts, with whistles around their necks and flotation devices tucked beneath their arms.
Yes, they were lifeguards.
Why are lifeguards needed in a pool where the world’s best swimmers are competing? The answer is simple: regulatory compliance.
FINA, the sport’s international governing body, states in its guidelines that “owners of public pools or pools restricted only to training and competition must comply with the requirements established by law and the health authorities in the country where the pool is situated.” The law in the state of Rio de Janeiro requires the presence of lifeguards at swimming pools larger than 20 feet by 20 feet, according to The New York Times.
As a project manager leading the efforts of a global or regional project, you will need to be aware of all the regulations that may impact your project. Assuming that you can lead a project in the same way you do in your country of origin is a bad assumption.
Preparing for Compliance
Complying with regulations can mean big hurdles in project deployment, so you need to plan ahead to avoid any major impacts. At the same time, regulations may be an opportunity to establish relationships with governmental entities that define the regulations (as Amway did in China in the last decade).
When dealing with regulations in your projects, remember:
As a global project manager, you need to develop and master your cultural awareness. This will help you to establish the foundation of communication and identify cultural values, beliefs and perceptions.
This will help you understand the local environment and market, build long-term, trusting relationships and keep your project in track.
As a global project manager, how do you face regulatory compliance in different countries?