I wish I had me when I was you...

by
"I wish I had me when I was you..." That expresses precisely how I feel each time a project manager or PMO leader tells me a story about their frustrations encountered while trying to create effective and sustainable change, build (or fix) a PMO, or deliver projects successfully. I always think to myself…I wish I knew then what I know now. I’ve made it my mission to share with you everything that I have learned while creating change and building PMOs in both large and small organizations for the last 24 years, many of those years as an employee in the "hot seat" responsible for building internal capability. I’m hoping these articles help you along your journey as you continue to evolve and develop skills and techniques to be the high-IMPACT leader you are meant to be. Learn more at ImpactbyLaura.com

About this Blog

RSS

Recent Posts

Becoming a Customer-Centric PMO

10 Steps to Ensure Project Rescue Success

Things to Stop Doing to Be High-IMPACT

The Big Credibility Differentiator

Did You Know That Project Management Can Change The World?

Quick Tip: Stop Calling Yourself a Project Manager

For too long now, we’ve been calling ourselves project managers, prescribing to the belief system that our project success is defined by how well we manage the triple constraint. We and the success of our projects are often determined by measuring whether we meet the scope, within the prescribed budget, and on time.

Well guess what? We’ve been missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle.


By calling ourselves by the title of Project Manager, we might be subconsciously minimizing the IMPACT we are making to the organization or, even worse, shortchanging how we are seen by others in the organization.

“But wait, isn’t project management supposed to be my title? I fought long and hard for that title and my associated certification(s)!”

I hear ya! Just hang in with me here!

First, let’s talk about what many people think when they hear Project Management: Tools, Process, Methodology, Systems, Templates, etc. Sound about right to you?

Yes, those are important value added (if done right) services and resources that you bring to the table as a PM. Do you know what’s missing from that? Any talk about the IMPACT you are creating.

We need to broaden our thinking about the role we play and start spending more time thinking about, planning for, and ensuring that the IMPACT we create via the project work we do is paramount.  In fact, I feel so strongly that this shift in our thinking is crucial that I suggest project managers adopt the title of Investment Manager instead of Project Manager.

Why? It’s simple! Follow along here:

  • Your project will take time, money, resources, and energy to get accomplished.
  • Someone had to make a business case (hopefully!!) that this time, money, resources, and energy was worth getting spent to get to the outcome they are expecting to achieve.
  • Someone (sponsor, business unit, C-suite, etc.) will have to agree that this work will lead to those outcomes and write a check (allocate resources, etc.) for that work to happen.
  • OK, then that project gets turned over to you. You are now the project manager. They ALSO put the responsibility in your hands of ensuring that the investment is money well spent.
  • You, the manager of that investment then has to guard that investment and ensure that the return on investment (ROI) is achieved.

Sounds to me like you are the manager of that investment and have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization to achieve the expected return.

If you achieve the triple constraint goals beautifully, but ROI isn’t achieved, do you think the investor will be happy? Would you be happy if this project was invested with dollars from your pocket? Nah, probably not. You may have had “fun” along the way, but as the investment manager, you failed to deliver the return expected for that investment, therefore you fell short of the true goals of the project.

Now, I’m sure you are wondering, “Do I really need to stop calling myself a Project Manager?” Of course, not. What I’m getting at here is that you need to think bigger about how important your role and the function you play really is (can be) to your organization. The bigger goals you set for yourself (or conversely, by not letting yourself get stuck in the status quo), the more you will accomplish. The more we truly understand and appreciate this, the more we can transform the mindset of ourselves and others to the real value of project management.

The role of project management in organizations varies by how well everyone understands the value and IMPACT project management is or can be making. Your job (today and to protect the jobs of the future) is to ensure that you and everyone else understand just how valuable the role of project manager really is to the success of the firm.

Want to dig deeper on this topic?

Here are some ways to learn more about this Quick Tip:


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.
See you online!

Warmly,
LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: March 26, 2018 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Focus Driven Change: Change Management Lessons from Ordinary Life

I was recently asked to speak at my son’s school on behalf of a wonderful program he has been a part of for the last two years. The parents in this school have a choice to make about where they send their children to participate in this program. They can keep their children at their districted school or bus them to another school that has the same program. I was asked to speak about my experience in that program, my son’s experience, and how we made the decision to stay at the home school.

There were so many reasons that we chose to stay, but there was an important one that I thought was worth sharing with you. The sense of community, the wonderful principle, the amazing teachers, and the fact that he would be able to stay with his friends, were all very important decision points. However, there was one that came from my experience as a change management expert, helping people deliver change in organizations in the most effective and sustainable way possible.

Ultimately, what made the decision to keep our son in the home school for this program was leveraging one of my favorite change management techniques: pick one thing.

Yes, just that simple. Pick ONE thing. Whatever you’re trying to implement, whenever you’re making a significant change in yourself, in someone's life, or at work…the best thing you can do to ensure success with that change is to pick one thing.

Take your one thing, focus on it, and then hit the accelerator to drive change in that single area.

I wanted to ensure that my son would have the best opportunity for success in his new program, and to do that, the new program needed to be the one thing that he had to focus on. The one big change. This program was going to require a lot more homework, a lot more focus, and discipline to get as much as possible out of the content in school.

If I had sent him to a new school, he would have had so many new changes happening all at once and the desired focus of him excelling in this new program would have been at risk. He would have had to focus on making new friends, getting used to the new routines, finding his way around the school, and many other factors in addition to this accelerated pace of learning.

His home school was great for so many reasons, but keeping him there was critical because of my one thing principle. He needed to have only one significant change happening at one time so that he could make this change as successful as possible.

This is a principle that is easily applicable to your own situation. Imagine you were trying to build a PMO or create project management discipline in your organization. What about trying to implement a new software system or change a business practice? How about changing the organizational structure to better suit the needs of the business operations? These things require people to go through change. To make sure that those changes are given the highest chance for success, consider being disciplined enough to pick one thing for them to focus on at any given time.

Pick one big organizational change or system change or process change at a time. Bring people through the change process with you. Do the change with them instead of to them, and then let it sink in for a while. Let them adjust, let them build new routines, let them incorporate that one change into their daily work before implementing the next one. This helps put them in a state of evolution instead of revolution.

Evolution is a slower and more methodical approach to implementing change, but I would argue one that is far more successful in the long run. It’s the story of the tortoise and the hare: slow and steady wins the race. Revolution tends to disrupt too many things in a person’s routine and processes, requiring them to have to focus on too many adjustments and adaptations at one time. If you can pick one thing, and let them get comfortable and good at that, then the next change won't feel so mighty.

Breaking down the changes into smaller more incremental steps and letting people get comfortable with that one change allows them to get into a routine of embracing and implementing changes on a more rapid basis. Primarily because the change wasn’t too exhausting and time-consuming in single focus mode. As you can see, doing it this way allows for an organization to implement more changes over a period of time versus trying to implement all the changes all at once and ultimately spending a lot more time on the fallout from pushing people so far beyond their comfort zone and routines.

In my ordinary life example, it was easy to see that allowing my son to focus on one thing at a time would highly improve the likelihood of his success in that first year in the new program. And it worked amazingly well and I’m regularly reminded that we made the right decision.

Think about how you can help people through change and more effectively embrace change yourself. What can you do to focus on one thing and help everyone come out on the other side happier, more nimble and flexible for the next change?


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black small 90

Posted on: March 19, 2018 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Does a PMO need a charter? Probably not.

Uh, wait, what?? Of course it needs a charter, right? Well, maybe not.

If you are setting up a PMO that is meant to be a temporary endeavor with a start, finish, and a unique product, service, deliverable, or outcome created (sound familiar?), then yes, it might need a charter. But you know what it actually is then?

A project charter. A charter for the project and the project team (in this case, also being referred to as a PMO). It’s not really a PMO charter.

Whether you call it a PMO or a project team, if the group is meant to be temporary and serve the goals of one specific project or program, then yes, a charter is necessary…like it would be for any other project.

However, if what you are building is really a PMO that is meant to stick around for a while, it’s an organization, a business unit, a more permanent fixture in the organization. What does an organization need? A business plan, not a charterThanks for taking the time to read this article.

Charter = Temporary Endeavor

Business Plan = Sustainable Business Unit

Why does this matter?

It sets the tone for the entire organization from the beginning. That which we treat as temporary, we will continue to treat as temporary. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. That which we treat as a permanent, sustaining solution to a business goal, we will treat as a permanent fixture to achieving that business goal.

We often don’t realize how much we set the tone when setting up an organization by how we talk about the organization, how we plan for the work we will do and how we will do that work. Why not setup your organization from the beginning as if you already have that support, stature and credibility necessary to drive the organization more swiftly and thoughtfully to its goals?

What if you don’t have the credibility yet to feel comfortable with what you are creating? Shoot, most of us don’t feel comfortable in the beginning. I never did, even when I knew exactly what I needed to do. Why? Because you never really know exactly what needs to get done. We think we know and then along the way some stuff happens and we realize that half our assumptions were wrong. That’s why we always have to be flexible and listen to what our gut, our peers, and our stakeholders are telling us. Be open to the possibility of what if in your solution development.

Act as if...

My coach wrote a great book that I highly recommend to everyone. It’s called Steal the Show, by Michael Port. In this book, he talks about acting “as if” when you don’t yet have the confidence or comfort necessary for you to perform at your best in the role you are trying ot create for yourself. The goal is to give you that confidence by acting as if you already have that  buy in you need. You need to set your intentions and get purposeful about the outcomes you want to create.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t make any effort to build that credibility and needed support along the way, you do, but you have to go into this business of setting up a PMO with the clear intention that you will build that credibility and support.

Design the organization for now...

You won’t know how the organization should look a couple of years from now when you start building because you need to do a lot of listening, surveying, and then planning. But you can start to build where you think it should go, start small, build some key services, etc. Then, as you get input and feedback, you can continue to evolve the organization.

What should the business plan include?

A quick google search of  "business plans" will give you a good idea of what needs to be included, but some basics that you may want to include are:

  • Scope – What areas of the organization will you serve?
  • Services – How will you serve those areas of the organization?
  • Staffing – What staff will you need to do perform these services?
  • Stakeholders – Who will you serve and how will you engage them?

Remember, this business plan won't be static. No organization is. What puts you at a distinct advantage here is that you are good at planning. You can put together a plan in your sleep (and probably do), so don’t let that be an imagined hurdle here.

Start with the end in mind. Don't forget, you are building a sustainable organization and that you need to get buy in quickly. Your very first step is to ask the question Why? Why are you building this organization in the first place? What gap are you filling or business problem are you solving? Once you have the big "why" nailed down, the rest will be a lot easier!


I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: March 05, 2018 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

5 Steps to Avoid Rescuing Project Team Members

Last week in Part 1 of our discussion on what happens when you rescue your project team members, we discussed a few of the problems that come with being the hero and doing the work for others. This week, in Part 2, discover how we avoid finding ourselves in the position of not delegating and ending up doing all of the the tasks we know we shouldn't be doing.

Ending the cycle of rescuing to drive higher performance

If you want to be a high performer, you must be able to deliver on the work that you are responsible for while still ensuring that your team is delivering on their commitments.  You cannot get caught up in the myth that your job is “fire fighter” for the team and that you are just being a “team player” by jumping in, rolling up your sleeves, and rescuing the team members each time work doesn’t get done. You must position yourself as the driver of IMPACT instead of the doer of all tasks. Here are a few techniques you can use to help ensure that the project overall remains successful while you maintain your sanity (and stop doing all the tasks you know darn well you shouldn’t be doing):

  1. Be firm.

When tasks are being assigned/accepted, be clear and be firm that the assignee will be held accountable for delivery AND that their manager will be kept abreast of all status updates to that work. Your job as a project manager is to ensure that those that are accountable for the work understand what to do, how to do it, and that they commit to getting it done. Then, you trust but verify that this work is getting done according to the commitments made. You aren’t being the bad guy by holding others accountable.

Many leaders struggle with this first step, trying to balance firmness and kindness. Always start with being clear and firm, then kind. This order is key because if you put kindness ahead of clarity, then you can easily send mixed messages when trying to sweeten the nice-factor.

  1. Clearly define roles and responsibilities.

You will have plenty of work to do on the project without doing other people’s tasks. Have a clearly defined roles and responsibilities chart that indicates what types of activities you do and what the other roles are responsible for doing.

This isn’t about showing your superiority. This is about clearly delineating the lines between what belongs to you and what belongs to every other project team members (sponsor included). Each person on the team has their role to play, just like an orchestra each playing instruments. If the conductor doesn’t do their job, the entire symphony falls apart.

There is real benefit in this step, so don't skip it. When you clearly define roles and responsibilities everyone knows what to do and everything gets done. People work together better when they understand exactly what their roles are. You will even find there is less energy wasted on things that don't matter.

  1. Put names (other than your name) on the tasks.

Project managers have this bad habit of assigning their name to tasks on a schedule if they don’t know who should be doing it. I strongly discourage this. Put the department name or the name of the manager of the functional area and allow them to be the one to tell you who should be doing that task. Unless it’s clearly in your area of responsibility, the task, risk, issue, decision or other update should not have your name on it.

Delegation of tasks to the appropriate team members not only benefits you, but it benefits the entire team. The team members and managers get a feeling of importance when tasks are delegated. Ensuring tasks are delegated increases the morale, confidence, and productivity of the project.

  1. Understand why work isn’t getting done.

Make sure you take the time to figure out why people aren’t getting tasks done instead of rescuing them when things aren’t getting done. Are they overloaded or have higher priorities? Talk to them and their manager. Are deadlines getting missed? Then do your job of modifying the timeline, getting other resources, or escalating the risks to the schedule to your sponsor. That’s the role of the project manager.

Ensure that step 3 above was done well. Did they fully understand the task? Did the team member confirm commitment? These are steps that are necessary to confirm accountability for the tasks that are delegated. Take steps to revisit the delegation process and avoid taking the task on personally.

  1. Take the time to teach and coach others.

If the challenge is that the work isn’t getting done because the responsible team members isn’t clear on what to do, you must make sure that they get the necessary training and development to be able to perform their role effectively.

If you are having trouble delegating the work because you feel like you “don’t have time” to show someone else how to do something, just remember it will always be your task if you don’t take time to show others how to do it.

As a leader of a project team, a part of your role is to help guide others toward finding their own solutions, managing their time more effectively, and coaching them to take responsibility for their work and commitments.

We all have more work to do than time to do it. Hold the role of project manager sacred and make sure that you set yourself up for success by being clear about the work that you are responsible for, how you will be measured, and how you will measure others and hold them accountable for the work they are responsible for on your project.

This will protect you, your credibility, and your sanity.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: February 19, 2018 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

What happens when you rescue your project team members?

We’ve all been there. The work is piling up. The deadlines are hovering over our heads and our project is behind schedule. It’s so tempting to just jump in and start rescuing the project to make sure that the ultimate outcomes are achieved. We want to be the hero and we know we are ultimately accountable for project success, but there are some big challenges that come with being the fire fighter and rescuing our project team members when they aren’t getting their work done. In this two-part article, we will first take a look at what happens when you become the rescuer for your project team, and next week in part 2 we will dive into how to avoid becoming the rescuer in the future.

Here are a few of the problems that come with being the hero and rescuing your project by doing the project work for others:

  1. You become the one that does the work.
    When we rescue others by doing the work for them, they will let us keep rescuing them and doing the work for them. See a problem with this? Now it becomes the thing you “just” do to knock it out or help out others…and they will let you keep doing it.

     

  2. You don’t get your own work done.There’s no way you can rescue others by doing their work and still stay on top of all the things you should be doing. If you are a manager of any kind or lead others, you certainly have more work on your plate than you really have time to do. So, why do you think you have time to take on the work of others and still get your own stuff done?
  3. Not only that, but people will start to point out all the things you didn’t get done that ARE your responsibility because you were so busy doing other people’s work. Yes, seems unfair, doesn’t it? You know you aren’t supposed to be doing that work, so do they. Sometimes they are grateful, but most of the time, the fact that you did other people’s work is not how you will be measured. You will be measured for the work you were supposed to be doing…that isn’t getting done.

  4. You lose the ability to hold others accountable.
    If people see that they can get away with not doing something they are supposed to, regardless of how many times you told them to do it, they will just not do it. It’s simple. It’s not that they are necessarily being difficult or trying to cause trouble, they may just have their energy focused on other things. However, people will see that there really aren’t consequences to not doing what you have assigned them and others will start exhibiting the same behavior. This is extremely dangerous to your effectiveness with the team.
  5. The entire team is less productive.
    If your job is to help to facilitate the work (instead of do it all yourself), and your time is spent doing the work for others, you won’t have time to make sure that all the work that should be getting done, is getting done, the way it should be getting done, when it should be getting done.
  6. You lose your authority.
    You become one of the doers instead of one of the leaders. I’m not saying you should never roll up your sleeves and help, but what I am saying is be very careful how you proceed. As managers, we must have a level of authority to assign the work and facilitate work completion and if we are doing the same tasks as everyone else, or doing everyone else’s tasks, then we are a task doer instead of a manager making sure the work is getting done. Your job is to facilitate the work.
  7. People wait to get rescued.
    There are several reasons that this is likely to happen and it isn’t just always because they are lazy. While laziness can certainly plague teams, it’s also possible that they just don’t place as high a priority on the task as you do, therefore they will let you keep doing it. Or, it’s possible that they are just completely overwhelmed themselves and you aren’t being the squeaky wheel, so they are doing the other things they need to be doing…and you are rescuing them…so, it’s still getting done, right?
  8. You perpetuate the problem.
    So many of us have said it: “It would take me longer to explain it, so I will just do it myself.” Yes, sometimes this is true. We do something that we know we really should delegate to someone else because it just seems easier to do it ourselves. However, once you have this mindset, you will miss the opportunity to teach someone else how to do something so that NEXT time, you don’t have to do it. Think about it. If it’s something that will ever possibly happen again, do you want to be the one that does it every time? Maybe one time it would “just be easier” to do it yourself, but if the task will come up again, you should make sure someone else is equipped to do it themselves.

The other problem here is that things are never a “just” or as “easy” as we think they are. That 5-minute task could turn into a four hour back and forth email conversation and chasing people down to get answers…wouldn’t it have been better to have this on the right person’s plate from the start?

So, how do we avoid finding ourselves in this position of not delegating and ending up doing all of the tasks we know darn well we shouldn’t be doing?

It's simple! Next week in part 2, I will address how to be firm, clearly define roles and responsibilities, and how to understand why work isn't getting done.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: February 12, 2018 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
ADVERTISEMENTS
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors