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Monday, 30 March 2020 16:53

COVID19 Social Distancing and the Indispensable PM

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We are certainly in a challenging time.

The Novel coronavirus has us scrambling to mobilize workforces that would otherwise be office-based, dealing with the on-slaught of negative news and working to ensure our families are protected and prepared.

The good news is that our training as Project Managers has prepared us to weather exactly this sort of storm

Geographic proximity matters … but does not matter.

Being face to face with team members and stakeholders in a room is priceless, but not mandatory. Use “check-in” and “check-out” during important project meetings to ensure that participants deliver and receive exactly what information they came to the meeting to give and receive. This also provides a crystal-clear readout for meeting recaps. Also, be cognizant during calls that that many folks now have more than one party working from home, as well as kids in the background etc.

Over communicate.

This does not mean beat your team over the head with the same information, or push people to the edge. The secret lies in clarity of communication and content management. Utilize action lists and summaries to provide clarity on timing of short-term items and deliverables, as well as carefully summarizing agreed upon actions.


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Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate.

Put yourself into your client’s shoes and give them exactly what you would be looking for. Often, it’s the same. Also, ask key stakeholders if a certain slicing and dicing of data would be more beneficial during this time. The more you cater to individual need, the more value you’ll provide to your clients.

Continually forge relationships.

Social isolation during difficult times means there will be more of a need for 1:1 engagement. Be empathetic, listen to the needs of your team members and remember that you … work for them, not the other way around. Make special effort to “touch base off-line” with each team member to determine if there’s anything you as PM need to be aware of regarding special circumstances, or just to provide team members with a time to vent.

Be succinct.

Not to fly in the face of overcommunication, however. We must hone the art of doing them collectively. Clear, sharp communication needs to be delivered … and on a frequent basis.

Being cognizant of the five areas above will us to function as the indispensable and high performing communicative, anticipatory, relationship forging PM’s we’ve been trained as.

Sean Lowe

Sean Lowe is a project manager and freelance writer with 20 years of experience managing systems integration, process development, security and compliance projects. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute. He can be reached at Lowesean@mac.com.

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