Viewing Posts by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL
| When a project manager or team member is unsure of what to do, it's often because there's something lacking. And in my experience, it's usually lacking in all or some of these key areas: knowledge, experience and the project's intended benefit.|
In an IT project, for example, let's say you are in charge of the rollout of new computers and rearranging the workstations. You would need to be clear on the requirements first, and you would have to assess if the budget is sufficient for all the required resources and activities you will need to execute. It's your project management knowledge and experience that will aid you in completing the required tasks correctly.
You may have had experiences where you felt that you were clear on the goals and direction of the project. But depending on where you got the information, and if you don't understand how a particular organization operates, you might be going in the wrong direction.
No matter how much project management knowledge or experience you have, if you don't have knowledge of or experience with the stakeholder or project owner, you will end up failing or negatively impacting the business.
While this might seem like common sense, my experience shows that many people are struggling and looking for creative and advanced solutions to something that is simple. They spend countless amounts of energy and time to figure out a complex solution rather than just looking at the obvious.
In reality, they are missing something in their knowledge, experience or understanding of the project goal or direction.
Use examples from your life to validate this for yourself. Look at an area where you are actually having trouble or an area that is not working as well as you'd like it to. Something is likely missing in your knowledge, experience or project comprehension whether you want to admit it or not.
Have you ever been unsure of what to do in a project? Was it because you were missing something in one of these key areas?
| How can you still use the people you currently have on your team rather than replace them? |
One suggestion is to look to your junior project managers, provided that they are sufficiently skilled, to complete the work that needs to be done.
But how do you train the junior project manager quickly and sufficiently?
As project managers, we, especially those with credentials, have a strong belief in this profession and the desire to advance our knowledge and practice. Those of us who are already senior project managers have the responsibility to work with our junior project managers or team members and support them in their growth.
As a project or program manager, you have the power to give them the tools they need to unleash their power as coordinators and junior project managers. As a project manager, you already know how to manage the project. It's up to you to help the less experienced know what they should be doing, what they shouldn't be doing and what tools they should or shouldn't be using.
For example, I worked with one junior project manager who lacked experience in working with those who were directly involved in the business operation. The solution we found was to involve her directly with the business analyst. The business analyst could help the project manager communicate her needs into "business speak." This allowed the project manager to learn, and adjust her management and communication styles.
Knowledge sharing gives junior project managers more confidence. By providing them with an experience working with you on a project, you are creating an environment that fosters growth and development and is fun and rewarding.
Are you a senior or junior project manager? What has your experience been like? How do you foster growth for junior project managers?
| Have you ever been at a meeting where someone tries to tell you what you should be doing and how? Even though you are the project manager -- the one who guides the team and makes decisions -- you still have people offering their two cents. The advice can come from a project team member or a credentialed project manager on a different project. |
I have actually done this myself as a project team member. As someone technical, and who also has project management experience and knowledge, I have tried to impart that wisdom to my project manager.
I clearly remember one project manager I would advise on a number of things. It's in my nature that when there's a gap -- whether in communication, documentation, project planning -- I want to point it out.
The dilemma is that if you impart your knowledge too forcefully, you are possibly invalidating the project manager.
In certain situations, that advice becomes unmanageable and puts more pressure on the project manager, not only to manage the project but also to manage you.
If we feel there's a need to bring something to the table that is going to add value to the project, it needs to be brought up as such. You should not expect that the project manager would just implement it because you said so.
Before you even do that, consider asking yourself why you are thinking a particular way about a situation. Why are you asking for the changes? How does it resolve a specific issue that you are dealing with?
Challenge yourself. See if you can adapt and work with your team, deliver what you are required to deliver and, as appropriate, bring up the items that you feel can add value to the project. Understand the value of your place in the project and fulfill on the expectations others have of you.
How do you handle project team members who forcefully suggest their ideas?
| As project managers, we have to manage various tasks in multiple lines of work. At times, we operate from our technical background and impart that knowledge and expertise more than our project management knowledge.|
There needs to be the distinction of when we use our "project manager hat" versus our "technical specialist hat."
Many project managers work in two common extremes: process focus or technical detail focus. This is common for junior project managers and for project managers who are new to an organization. That often happens, in my opinion, because those project managers haven't developed their management style yet or haven't adjusted to the organizational culture.
When the project manager thinks something is going wrong on a project, either with how someone is performing a task or the results of a deliverable, we often try to fix it. We do that with our strongest toolkit -- usually, that's our technical background. We often take over and hijack the task just to do it "our way," based on our experience.
Remind yourself that as a project manager, you have a different role as a leader. You also can't be a technical skills expert for your team.
Realign yourself to the deliverables. Gain a clarity of the project goal, the project management approach you are using and your role in managing the given project resources.
Project managers can be quite connected and attached to the project outcome. But when you see an opportunity to improve something based on your technical expertise or what you would do differently, stay focused on your role, which is to deliver the project according to the business requirements, aligning with the business sponsor and the organization. Let your team handle their tasks according to their experience and expertise.
Do you ever rely too heavily on your technical expertise?
Read more from Dmitri.
Excel as a Project Team
| What makes projects move and people excel? In my opinion, there are three characteristics that are consistently found in great project practitioners:|
Executing projects with a sense of urgency means you and your team must really apply yourselves. Every day has to be productive. Tools must be properly utilized. The work needs to be completed with quality and according to the requirements.
Don't look at the future as a way to fix the mistakes you might make today. Address items immediately and effectively so that you don't make them again.
Persistence means not giving in or giving up. Nor should we quit when things get tough.
Don't let it slide when you feel less productive: You and your team should encourage each other to be in motion at all times. After all, we are hired to perform a specific job. The more we stick to being professional and complete in the work we do, the higher level we will reach in our daily execution of project tasks.
Finally, have the desire to be great. That means don't settle for second best or for a "good enough" result. You should want to outdo yourself, to be more effective than in the past. Strive to complete more work through effectiveness and with higher quality than you think you can. It's the only way to improve yourself.
When the entire team is aligned to such a work ethic and mindset, it no longer is a job for a project manager. It becomes a game and a challenge that everyone on the team takes on and is excited to be part of.
Together aligned we achieve more, have fun, constantly grow and become better at what we do.
What do you do on a project team to add value to the team effort with your own individual effort?