Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Vivek Prakash
Christian Bisson
Cyndee Miller
David Wakeman
Jen Skrabak
Mario Trentim
Shobhna Raghupathy
Rex Holmlin
Roberto Toledo
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Wanda Curlee
Joanna Newman
Linda Agyapong
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues

Past Contributers:

Jorge Valdés Garciatorres
Hajar Hamid
Dan Goldfischer
Saira Karim
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
William Krebs
Peter Taylor
Rebecca Braglio
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

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Viewing Posts by Hajar Hamid

Selecting a Protégé From Your Project Team

It is always good to groom talent internally to fill vacant positions in the company. It saves cost, effort and time -- all the important aspects of a successful project. 

I like to think of grooming a project team member as another project.

To ensure that 'project' is successful, a project manager should look for possible candidates that match certain characteristics. In my opinion, the following are among the characteristics a manager should look for in potential project managers (in no particular order):

1. Friendliness

A project manager must be able to communicate effectively. Friendliness is a good trait to have because more often than not, a friendly person is able to get information from the least communicative person.

2. Willingness to learn

Learning happens all the time in managing projects. Even the most seasoned project managers still learn something new from each new project.

3. Vision

A project manager must be focused in seeing a project through until it is completed -- or halted. He or she must have a clear vision to be able to steer the project team to fulfill the project goals.

4. Organized 

And this doesn't mean the project manager's workstation. The information that the project manager shares must be organized and structured to ensure clarity and understanding to the recipients.

5. Diplomatic

In a project, conflicts will arise -- even from something as minor as a missing network cable, for example. A project manager must be able to act objectively, as a mediator and be able see the whole picture.

6. Firm

When making decisions or providing direction, a project manager needs to be firm. Not every decision will be popular. Resistance may occur, but the project manager must stick to her or his ground.

This, by no means, is an exhaustive list of characteristics that a project management protégé must have. But I do believe these are the fundamental criteria that a project manager should possess to be effective and successful.

What criteria do you look for in a project team member when grooming him or her to be a project manager? What other characteristics do you feel are important for someone who wants to be a project manager? 


Posted by Hajar Hamid on: August 10, 2012 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Project Skills Improvement Through Formal Plans

It is very likely that you have some members on your project team who are more talented or experienced than others. As project managers, we tend to utilize their skills as much as possible because we know that more often than not, they will be able to produce excellent results and meet expectations. 

Nevertheless, this group of people still needs the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge. This is especially true when an organization needs to stay relevant in the current economic conditions. 

According to PMI's 2012 Pulse of the Profession report, a critical success factor of projects was staffing the team with the appropriately skilled people. Organizations that had a formal process for developing project/program competency saw a 70 percent success rate on projects, versus a 64 percent overall average. 

Unfortunately, Pulse of the Profession also showed that in 2011, only 47 percent of organizations had a formal "talent management" process, down from 52 percent in 2010.

But we must have formal talent management processes to develop project managers and team members, and you must tailor it to the people involved. An effective project manager is only as good as the information that he or she has.

An "accidental project manager," for example, might not have attended formal project management training courses. But fundamental knowledge helps project managers achieve effective and high-quality deliverables. For this group, it would be good to start them off with proper training on the core skills they'll need to grow and succeed as project managers.

Team members who are familiar with project management fundamentals might need help developing in other areas, such as soft skills. Since 90 percent of a project manager's job is communication, maybe you will help them improve in that area. 

Have the team member sign up for a communication course, for example. Choose topics such as influencing skills, which is important in convincing clients and partners. Or, suggest courses on negotiating skills, which is helpful in negotiating a more achievable schedule.

Refresher courses could be helpful for everyone on the team. Look for training that zooms into specific project management areas, such as effective cost and scheduling control, risk management or quality control management. Aim for at least one training session every quarter. 

Do you have a formal talent management system? How do you develop your project managers?

To discuss Pulse of the Profession on Twitter, please use #pmipulse.

See more on the Pulse of the Profession. 

Posted by Hajar Hamid on: July 11, 2012 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tailor Your Coaching Style to Project Team Members

In coaching project team members, project managers may forget that each person is different. Thus, the approach to engage them will be different. It is imperative to remember you are not creating a clone of yourself and that your team members may have a different working style than you.

You must have a game plan when coaching individual team members. It does not need to be written down; you just need to pay attention. Focus on the way your team members prefer to work, listen and learn. Some people like to draw when they talk or explain. Some people write everything down. Others just stare blankly but give good responses when requested to.

When you have an idea of how your team members operate, try these tips to coach them further:

  1. Identify the different ways your team members process information and engage them in that manner, on an individual basis.
  2. When you're presenting to the team, use figures and pictorial depictions on what you want to explain.
  3. Use humor to keep people interested. Dispersed doses of humor get people engaged and paying attention. It's also a great way to get new people on the team to warm up to you as the one who's going to be responsible for the deliverables. "Hey, the project manager jokes! Maybe she's nice to work with!"
  4. Encourage the team to give feedback on how they are coping with the workload and schedule. Most of the time, team members do not voluntarily share the challenges they are facing for fear of looking weak or incapable. The project manager needs to assure the team that it is important to make known the challenges since the success of the project depends on the ability of them completing the tasks.
It is important to understand your team members and then apply different coaching styles to deliver information. Include some laughter and good humor, and you'll probably find yourself with a happier and more cooperative team.

How well do you know your team members? How do you engage their interest in learning new things?
 
Posted by Hajar Hamid on: May 31, 2012 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Coach Your Project Teams by Example

Have you ever thought that as a project or program manager, you indirectly set a precedent on managerial style, behavior, competencies and professionalism. Unconsciously, we are showing our team members how to manage crises, deal with stakeholders and so on.
 
There are many ways that we can unknowingly coach our team members. When dealing with stakeholders, for example, project managers have the authority to set limits and control the discussion to stay on the subject. To be able to do this, we need to know the business process at both a high level and in terms of the customer's business goals.

In dealing with stakeholders, we indirectly coach our project team members to do the following things:

  1. Exercise a project manager's authority when the situation calls for it
  2. Understand the strategic direction the customer is embarking on
  3. Display at least a little business acumen and subject knowledge
  4. Communicate direction effectively with the objective of getting good results
  5. Control meetings and discussion; ensure objectives are met within the allocated time
As project or program managers, we need to tackle our day-to-day tasks strategically in order to be an effective coach and leader. Our team members observe every communication we make and actions we take.

How have you indirectly coached your team members in your projects? What examples do you set for your team members to follow?

Read more posts on coaching teams.

Posted by Hajar Hamid on: March 28, 2012 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Empower Project Team Members

Project teams are built of people with multiple layers of skills and competencies. A few will be selected as project leads to have less responsibility than a project manager, but more than a team member. Project leads ensure smooth task management and reporting flow, but how many of them are allowed or trusted to make decisions? What level of decisions can they make?

The key to empowering a team member lies in the project manager's ability to get to know the person's strengths and weaknesses. Some people, although highly skilled, are weak at managing customers. Some have the ability to influence but aren't necessarily good at managing time.

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about delegating work to team members as a way to help them succeed. To be able to delegate effectively, project managers simply cannot pick one person and assign him or her a task without carefully considering that person's skills.

When empowering team members, the same rules apply. In some cases, you can only see the true colors of a person through action.

First, select someone with a suitable background and competencies. Then test the person with small decisions or tasks. Check if he or she can communicate effectively by having conversations to gauge his or her ability to think and act proactively.

When you empower team members by giving them greater responsibility, you can significantly improve the way a project is managed. Deadlines that require input or quick decisions can be met promptly, for example. Customer satisfaction can be improved because a team member doesn't have to go through layers of approval. And, those empowered team members may get a confidence boost.

What decisions do you trust your team members to make? Have you experienced any negative impacts by empowering team members? Do you think empowering team members improves project delivery?
Posted by Hajar Hamid on: January 17, 2012 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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