Project Management

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Step Up and Coach Your Teams for Success!

Categories: CIO, Coach, Mentor, Stakeholders

Coaching and mentoring is one the many aspects of a project/program manager’s responsibility.  Great project /program managers will use various tools and techniques on their projects to acquire swift trust, manage stakeholder expectations and establish relationships.  

 Many organizations today will arrange, through their project management office or in their divisions; a teaming approach to have a project/program manager mentor a new , junior or seasoned project manager.  This can be very helpful to transfer knowledge, manage and control the risk on projects and provide oversight and guidance to a project manager at any time in their career path.  Also, many times organizations lack experienced project managers and/or resources to provide internal staff with mentoring opportunities and seek outsourced consulting firms with project management expertise.

 A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Al Amador, principle consultant from The Table Group, a Patrick Lencioni Company.  Al works with many customers in Northern California to help their organizations be more effective by consulting and sharing techniques to coach and mentor their teams for success.

 Al recommends focusing on these four key areas for coaching and mentoring teams for success:

  1.  Trust
  2. Conflict
  3. Maintaining or Improving Accountability
  4. Maintaining or Improving Results

 You can download the Al Amador’s tips and exercises on coaching and mentoring in the Leadership GIG.

 You can also check out the discussions about “Are You a Super Coach”in the Leadership GIG or join in the discussion in Project Central on “Coaching Teams and Sponsors”.

Posted on: October 31, 2011 03:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mastering Soft Skills is Hard Work

Categories: CIO, Leadership, Soft Skills

Are you able to consistently deliver projects that meet or exceed stakeholders' expectations on time and within budget? Today's organizations expect project managers to have a strong set of soft skills which are to compliment their use of innovative methodologies and project tools.  Soft skills also know as interpersonal skills or people skills are behavioral competencies.  Soft skills include proficiencies such as communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing skills and selling skills, to name a few. 

Chief Information Officers (CIO) are influencing organizational strategies and initiatives in business today.  Consolidation, cloud computing and network modernization are just a few hot topics. CIO’s are being consistently challenged with supporting growth while reducing cost and improving operational efficiency.  Virtual teams, initiatives, standards, tools; these are all emerging trends that focus on the need for information technology (IT) project managers to improve, enhance and develop better soft skills. Project managers are leaders and valuable assets to any organization.  Increasingly project managers in organizations across the globe manage the service delivery of innovative services to customers and stakeholders to achieve greater market share and return on investment.  

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a leader in promoting leadership as a competency for project managers in its standards and services.  Leadership and the use of soft skills are attributes at the top of the list for high performing project managers.  High performing project managers strive to focus the team on goals in order to achieve superior business results in the delivery of consistent repeatable best practices on projects within their organization. 

What soft skills are necessary to be a top notch project manager?  In an article written by Meredith Levinson of CIO magazine, she discusses her interview with Kumi Kondo managing director of Intellilink; a management and training company that specializes in technology implementations. “The more experienced project managers understand that if you don’t get the people side of project management, it does not matter how good your methodology or your tools are,” says Kondo. “If you’re not managing your users, sponsor or stakeholders you could deliver on budget, but you might not meets their needs; they’ll say their not satisfied.” Kondo analyzed the skills set of its own best project managers and those of its clients and came up with the following six attributes that are discussed below:

1. The gift of foresight.  - Great project managers anticipate, head off problems well before they jeopardize deadlines, budgets and user acceptance.  They always have the “big picture” in mind each step of the critical path.

2. They’re organized. - An organized project manager is one who stays focused on the big picture and prioritizes competing projects and other tasks. Prioritizing work for your team is a critical aspect of a project managers’ role.

3. They know how to lead. - Project managers have to interact and manage a variety of stakeholders including their project team and sponsors. Project manager have to influence and motivate resources in a matrix organization, negotiate and persuade stakeholders and sponsors to support their projects in the event a scope, timeline, or cost issue needs to be renegotiated or additional resources are required.

4. They’re good communicators. - Successful project managers use all tools available to them: email, meetings (face to face or virtual meetings), and performance reports to communicate their ideas, get decisions made and resolve problems. Project managers know their audience and deliver the right messages at the right time.

5.  They’re pragmatic. - Great project managers are results oriented and practical; they don’t over analyze.  They focus on getting work done with the resources available to them. 

6. They’re empathetic. - Project managers rely on their teams to be successful.  Project managers can’t influence individuals if they don’t know what motivates each team member and stakeholders. They are good listeners and can put solutions into action. Greate project managers who master good listening skills can focus on developing lasting relationships and partnerships with their customers.

Certainly, this in not an exhaustive list but through empirical data, Intellilink defined these as the top six attributes of successful project managers.  Personal growth and development is key to your success as a project manager in today's global economy.  Your next steps as a developing leader would be to put together a personal development plan to focus on daily improvement. I’ll discuss the detailed actions in my next post.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 01:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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