The Healthy Project Manager

Matching up wellness coaching and motivational interviewing techniques with project management—along with inclusion and inspiration—is my goal.

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As Project Managers, do we have a spring in our step?


Do you believe in luck?

Can you love your job?


Categories: Leadership, Leadership

  • SHOCKING - The numbers are staggering - according to the Balance Careers 60-million Americans are affected by workplace bullying.  60-MILLION AMERICANS!  Bullying doesn’t just occur in America – it is a global issue.  In January, I posted a PMI poll question on this site asking if others have experienced bullying in the workplace and 77% of responders said YES, they have encountered bullying. 
  • CONFLICT IS NOT BULLYING - Conflict is important for project success – as project managers we strive to create an environment where differences of opinion and perspectives are encouraged. 
  • BULLYING IS - Unwanted, aggressive and disrespectful behavior used to control or harm others and this negative behavior is repeated over time.  It often escalates and corporations can brush it off as a “leadership style”.   Clive Boddy presented a TED Talk about these bullies he calls “corporate psychopaths” working in all industries creating chaos and confusion to forge their own careers and agendas by bullying. 
  • VICTIMS - When we were kids, the bully on the playground often picked on the smallest, weakest, or the child who was different in some way.  As adults in the workplace, however, the bully often targets someone skilled, popular, kind, ethical and honest.  The workplace bully thrives on watching victims squirm. 
  • WHAT IT FEELS LIKE - The pain of bullying is the worst part with victims reporting very real health issues ranging from dread and worry, shame and exhaustion to disrupted sleep, PTSD, migraines and even suicidal ideations.  Victims feel powerless and are suffering.  This is unacceptable.
  • HIGHER ED – Research by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group indicate higher education organizations are at risk for fostering workplace bullying.  We hear of military hazing, in healthcare there is a known phrase about “nurses eating their young” and bullying even occurs in the legal profession.  In many industries, hostile behaviors are well known and surprisingly these industries are often in fields of higher education.
  • SUBTLE BULLYING – PM BULLYING? – Do we ever assign work before knowing if the timelines are reasonable?  Do we only discuss problems, errors or issues without celebrating milestones or acknowledging the efforts of others?  Do we understand harsh teasing, spreading rumors/ gossiping, ignoring individuals or even getting in the personal space of others can be lesser forms of bullying?
  • COST OF BULLYING – Bullying isn’t just hurting the individual.  Bullying tears down company culture by increasing absenteeism and decreasing presenteeism.  It influences healthcare costs.  Beyond this, it affects employee turnover, can lead to litigation……and for us project managers, bullying can directly lead to project failure. 
  • WHAT CAN YOU DO?  - Lead by example.  As a project manager, help your company create zero tolerance policies around bullying.  Enable conversations about bullying – create awareness.  Do not tolerate bullying in your meetings and quickly confront bullying when witnessing it by standing your ground without emotion – use the facts and document every time witnessing or encountering bullying behavior.  Hold bullies accountable for their behavior with disciplinary consequences and make this part of your organization’s cultural values and norms.  Make a stand!
Posted on: June 05, 2019 06:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

As Project Managers, do we have a spring in our step?

Categories: Leadership

Here in North America, spring is in full bloom – it is beautiful!  The season is abundant with new life and renewed energy.  It made me wonder if I have a spring in my step?  The Cambridge English dictionary describes a spring in our step as walking energetically in a way that shows happiness or confidence. 

As a project manager – is that what I portray? 

The most effective project managers are the ones who use a spring in their step to inspire others and create cohesive team environments where ideas and differing perspectives can flourish.  Some report one of the top qualities in an excellent employee is to have a positive and cheerful attitude.  Portraying confidence and a positive, contagious energy when communicating with teams, stakeholders and leaders is important to success.  These attributes create influencers.   Often people we come into contact with, are struggling under various kinds of personal and professional stressors – when we step into their day will our interactions wash over them like how a spring day feels?

Making personal choices to be healthier is another way to enhance the spring in our step.  Getting enough sleep, making healthy food choices, drinking plenty of water each day, finding ways to fit in exercise and controlling stress can up our game.  When we have a spring in our step, we are approachable, inspired, energetic and action-oriented and all these things can spring our careers to new heights.

Please share something you do to create a spring in your step.  Your ideas or suggestions can be helpful for us all!

Posted on: May 02, 2019 05:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)


As my grandmother was losing her battle with cancer, I took her hand and asked her what I needed to know about life before she left me.  We were close and I felt afraid about stepping into the future without her.  Nearly daily I hear her response in my thoughts.  She replied “life is all about how you handle change, Lori.  Handle it well, handle it with grace”.  She modeled a long full life of gracefully embracing changes like moving from Russia to America, learning a new language, starting new jobs, rearing two active boys and more.  During her lifetime she witnessed incredible advances in travel, technology and even learned to embrace her terminal condition with grace.

I consider her advice in my professional life whenever a trusted coworker leaves, corporate announces a new merger or restructuring, my boss asks me to lead a new technology or upgrade I am unfamiliar with or a million other changes come my way.  Being willing to gracefully embrace change can be a challenge – especially in these times when change comes at us with such ferocity. 

As project managers, we each face enormous change – sometimes it can feel like we are living in a pressure cooker!  Below are some change management tips I use in both my personal and professional life:

  • Accept my honest feelings about change – It helps to take a moment to wallow in the idea of this change, thinking about it and considering what this change really means.  Not trying to solve or manage it just yet, instead simply considering what the change feels like – but the key here is not to linger in this stage too long.
  • Look for any positive – Is there any positive for me or others in making this change?  Can I alter how I am looking at this change by considering the perspectives of others?  Will this change help anyone or do good in some way?
  • Recount past strengths – Is there something I faced in the past when I handled change well?  Reminding myself of these successes, can help boost my confidence about facing what is ahead.
  • Reach out – Finding others to talk with who have already traveled this path to see if there is anything I can learn from their experiences can be invaluable.  This website is a great place to reach out to peers for their thoughts.  The support of others can make all the difference.
  • Make my health a priority – Even experiencing good change can be hard and stressful.  Success rates can be improved by making healthy food choices, exercising and getting a good night of sleep which will help keep stress in check while managing change.  When I am physically stronger I am better prepared to handle change.
  • Believe in yourself and move forward – Project managers model this by setting small, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-framed goals.  This works for personal changes too.  Sometimes it is baby steps, but even baby steps add up to progress.

Consider embracing and handling change well because as my grandmother so wisely offered – life is all about HOW you handle change – do it with grace.  On a final note my grandmother’s name was Grace.

Posted on: April 02, 2019 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Do you believe in luck?

Do you believe in luck?

I enjoyed reading the book by Janice Kaplan titled “How Luck Happens”.  It sparked so many interesting thoughts for me and the author describes how you can put yourself in situations so good luck will happen more frequently for you.  Did you end up in Project Management by luck?  If you are a successful project manager, should luck ever play a role in your projects?  The dictionary describes luck as “things that happen to a person because of chance: the accidental way things happen without being planned.  Good fortune.  Good luck”. 

I believe I ended up in Project Management by the phenomenon of luck. Leaders noticed my natural aptitude for organizing, and things that needed straightening up or shepherding kept landing on my desk.  People would say “you should be a project manager”.  This was the beginning of my awareness of project management.  It was not a career I pursued or knew much about – rather I was discovered.  Leadership took chances on me and projects continued to land on my desk until it became my career.  If my skills had gone unnoticed or if leaders were hesitant to take chances on me, I would not be in project management today. 

Should luck ever play a role in project management?  One could argue there is no room for luck in project management – only solid planning and vigilant risk management, but let’s take a deeper look.  Is it luck when a person with the unique skills needed for a project coincidentally applies for a job at your company and lands on your team?  What about when the weather holds on a construction project and the project successfully completes before a terrible storm?   Or, maybe by luck you find a magnificent mentor?

That happened for me - an interim CEO came to our local hospital and long story short he became a wonderful mentor for me.  I learned so much and am eternally grateful for the time this very busy man took to help open my mind to new concepts and a deeper understanding of leadership.  He assigned me homework, met with me on a regular basis and shared his years of knowledge and experience with me.  Was this good luck or random chance?  I believe it was good fortune – good luck for me.  How about you?  Do you see any luck when looking back at your journey?  Going forward, look for luck and seize the opportunities that luck may bring your way!

Posted on: March 04, 2019 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Can you love your job?

February – the month of LOVE.  It’s everywhere you look in decorations, foods and even emotional commercials.  Personal love is one thing; professional love is another. 

Years ago I worked on the build, design and development of health coaching for a large insurance company.  Healthy living was my world: it was what I ate, drank, slept and preached for years……then, the company had a reorganization and I found myself in a different company with a different title in a new PM role – helping with IT projects.  I did the work to the best of my ability every day, but the passion wasn’t the same.  I couldn’t get excited about my job.  I was no longer in love with my work.  I felt sad inside and slowly even stopped living that healthy lifestyle.  My diet changed, I exercised less, I felt stress more.  Professional joy was shrinking with each day.

Then, I read a Forbes article dated March 13, 2015, written by David Surt and Todd Nordstrom called “Do what you love?  Or, love what you do?”  The right words hit me at the right time helping me realize that loving the impact my job had on the customer was something I could focus on.  Here was something I could appreciate and be passionate about again.  When I really focused on meeting the needs of my customers, the joy of my job began to grow.  The projects became more appealing and hurdles didn’t seem as challenging.  Interestingly, changing my focus also began to positively impact my health.  Today I can honestly say I love my work.

David Frost said “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”  Marc Anthony says “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  What about you?  Do you love your job?  If not, is there a way to look at your tasks differently so you too have a job you love?

Posted on: February 14, 2019 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

"If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."

- Yogi Berra