Tag: Communication

PMTimes_Nov15_2022

Healthy Teams Achieve More

The carpet in an office building’s main floor elevator lobby read, T-Together E-Everyone A-Achieves M-More.

 

Having worked on many healthy teams I can attest to the power of teamwork. But then I thought, “do the teams in this organization live the slogan? Do they understand why dysfunctional teams achieve L less? Do they understand what dysfunctional teams and healthy teams are? ”

When you replace the M with an L you turn your team into a TEAL – a small freshwater duck. But joking aside, not every team does more.

Healthy teams do achieve more. Dysfunctional teams result in demoralized team members and inadequate results. So, if you want to make sure teams are healthy, that they achieve their goals, avoid unnecessary conflict, manage the necessary disagreements well, and learn from their experience, then look to the process.

 

Everyone Together

When it comes to teams, the key words are T-together and E-everyone. If the team members are together a team can achieve more than the sum of what the individual members can achieve on their own.

But what does together really mean? Team members may be together at the same time physically co-located or virtual. They may be together because someone assigned them to the team, or they joined on their own. But the most meaningful way they can be together is to mutually understand the goal, the work to be done to achieve it, and the way they will do it. Do team members have common purpose. Do they have their act together, are they sufficiently skilled and organized to achieve their goals?

And what if not E-everyone is together? If anyone on the team is not aligned with the goal, process, and values, there is an unstable foundation for team performance. The goal of storming and norming in team development is to achieve unanimity through dialogue, analysis, and negotiation.

Whether physically co-located, dispersed, or virtual, if everyone is T-Together regarding process and goal the team will be healthy.

 

Process Awareness.

The key to effective performance is to make sure team members are aware of process, both their personal process and the team’s process. Process awareness means understanding that since everything is the result of a process – a set of actions and relationships that lead to an outcome – changing the process will change the outcome.

Personal process is one’s “innerworkings.” This is the realm of mindfulness, self-awareness, psychology, emotional and social intelligence. The outcomes of the inner process are speech and behavior expressed in relationships and performance.

The team’s process includes the way the members communicate, solve problems, manage projects and products, manage relationships, conflict, and expectations, and how they critically assess performance. Values, culture, roles, responsibilities, authority, and the tools and methods to be used to achieve the goal are all part of the process.

With process awareness as a base the team can agree upon values and goals, and the tools, techniques, and procedures they will use. If they take the time and effort to assess, adapt, fine tune, and improve the process.

 

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Resistance to Process Awareness

It is difficult to argue rationally against process awareness. And yet, we find many teams that never address the way they work together.  Here is an example:

There is a small team in which one member refused to follow procedures  causing her teammates extra work and stress and resulting in delays for clients. That team had procedures but the members were not together even though they shared physical space. The team lacked effective communication, common values, and clarity about roles, responsibility, and authority. There was no meaningful performance assessment. The most important missing ingredients in this situation were communications and leadership.

 

Going Beyond the Obstacles

By confronting them, a team can go beyond these obstacles. In the end it may be necessary to change the process or to expel a team member who refuses to or is unable to come T-Together and be part of E-Everyone.

The confrontation may be initiated within the team, by client complaints, or by external management. It is motivated by the desire to improve performance and quality of life. Without confronting the issues that get in the way of optimal performance, improvement is unlikely.

 

Critical Factors

Confronting the problem involves five critical factors for improving team health: problem definition, cause analysis, performance assessment, on a foundation of candid communication and a shared value of continuous improvement.

 

Define the Problem

In our example, the problem’s symptoms are long waits by clients and frustrated team members. Frustration leads to unnecessary conflict and to a sense that management doesn’t care. More universally, the problem is team performance that can be improved.

Problem definition relies on the open communication of the symptoms. Communication is enabled by having regular performance assessments. Without that, identifying the problem requires the courage of individual team members to “blow the whistle” on issues, and risks that clients will be the “whistle blowers.”

 

Identify the Causes

There are many causes of poor team performance. For example, individuals who do not care about achieving the team’s goals, self-centeredness, not understanding roles and responsibilities, ignorance of the procedures, ineffective procedures, lack of skill, etc.

Everyone knows cause analysis is an essential part of improving performance. Yet resistance to candid cause analysis is still a great barrier to effective teamwork. This barrier is caused by sensitivities regarding personal process, blame, fear, perfectionism, and not accepting that errors are part of the process.

The sensitivities reinforce the attitude that “we don’t have time for looking at how we work, we can barely get all of our work done as it is.” This attitude is further reinforced by leadership that does not value process management and is unwilling to address interpersonal factors..

 

Apply Process Management

If you want healthy teams, look to the process. To change outcomes, change the process.

In our case example, the process was broken. Leadership failed to identify, assess, and address the problem, they had no process management process. The team members, in the absence of effective leadership, did not take initiative to raise the issue or resolve it themselves. Process awareness was missing. No-one was managing the process.

Are your teams achieving M-More? Is process awareness part of your culture? Do you take the time and effort to make sure E-Everyone is T-Together.

 

See the following articles for more on performance management:
PMTimes_Nov8_2022

Best of PMTimes: Top Project Risk Management Strategies And Practices

Published on September 24, 2019

 

Every project is attached with a risk of failure.

Hence, it should be your top responsibility to identify and plan ahead in order to avoid these points of failure. A risk can be a threat with a negative impact on the project principles or it can either be an opportunity which leads to a positive effect. But, there are various strategies to deal with both the positive and negative risks when we talk about project management. Project Management includes new IT systems, new products, and new markets or changes in the business environment to take regulatory or competitive actions.

Project risk management is revolving around identifying the threat level of existing business processes. The ultimate challenge for the project manages is to get the expert teams in functional areas who consist of proper knowledge of business processes and systems aligned for achieving new goals. Along with this, it is mandatory to get the required transparency into the activities which are agreed upon for project execution and how to prioritize the issues that surface every phase of the project.

In this article, we will be looking at some key strategies and practices that can be incorporated to reduce the risks and achieve the desired project goal.

 

Differentiate Between Risk Events And Project Risk

It is essential for every project manager to differentiate between both these terms as it helps to analyze the project risk before planning out strategies. A risk event is defined as a set of circumstances that has a negative impact on the project meeting or one of the project goals whereas Project risk is the exposure of the stakeholders towards the consequences of alterations in the output.

Risk Events are a sort of singular incident that can wreck the whole project. You can think about a secret weapon that is dropping out or a mistake in a 3D printer which can postpone making a model. In opposition to this, project risk is progressively formless and considered as an aggregate of all the individual risk events and vulnerabilities. It might be possible that risk event does not result in project failure but the project risk can certainly end up creating disaster. It is difficult to manage the project risk as there are circumstances that happen outside your control which you have not planned for.

 

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Develop Separate Plans For Explicit And Implicit Risk Management

When you deal with the risk events and the entire project risks, it requires the project managers to develop different plans at various levels. One is an Explicit risk management plan which deals with an individual risk event and revolves around identifying, analyzing and responding or controlling the individual risks. Another one is Implicit risk management risk that deals with overall project risk and revolves around analyzing the project structure, content, context, and scope.

Explicit risk management plans by enabling you to make a rundown of the considerable number of segments in the undertaking and the odds of bombing them. This needs to get a more profound knowledge into the past records, industry benchmarks and standard practices of distinguishing an inappropriate thing. On the other hand, the implicit risk management plans are created in the pre-project phase itself where you have to analyze everything besides the individual risks that can lead to the project failure.

 

Different Ways To Identify Risks

As the agency grows so does its experience of risks. After a specific number of tasks, you don’t find that the dangers rehash themselves. It can spare you a huge amount of time on the off chance that you build up a procedure to inventory these dangers when you run comparable undertakings later on. Here, are some variant ways to figure out the risks. It is not mandatory to use all the given tactics but you can use it according to your needs.

Checklist analysis: This approach involves creating a checklist of your present processes and resources. By doing so, you can ensure whether the targets are getting hit or require any further push for the same.

Expert Analysis: In this approach, you need to ask an experienced project member, stakeholders and domain experts regarding the potential risks. Also, you can interview them about the risks which they have encountered in the past projects and get an idea based on their opinions.

Risk Repository: The risk repository ought to turn into the main stop for the risk distinguishing proof procedure. It is a list of all the essential risks that are encountered in finished projects along with their solutions. The ultimate idea is that there can be an overlap in the objectives of the project and also in the risks.

Status report extrapolation: Here, you need to consider all the available reports be its status report, progress report or quality report to determine the extrapolate risk from them.

Wrap Up

Despite the fact that risk management has developed into a perceived control, it has still not arrived at its pinnacle and can get additionally created. We have tried to mention the main areas where you can focus more to ensure control over the project failures and risks. Till then – keep learning!

PMTimes_Nov2_2022

Do I Hear an Amen?

Subconscious biases and habits of mind dominate or influence 85% to 95% of our emotions, judgments, reactions, decisions, behaviors, actions, and results.

What’s your reaction to what you just read?

When I heard that during WBECS’s coaching education platform led by Peter Demarest, a thought leader in the integration of axiology and neuroscience, I was surprised. I knew that the subconscious had a lot of influence on us. I was not ready to hear that our sub-conscience has this much influence!

Knowing this now, I was challenged with the following: how can I use my mind to keep my head from undermining the wisdom of my heart so that I can be my best self and live my best life and help others do the same?

In other words, how can we change, expand, and influence our thinking so we play in the A Game of our abilities?

The answer is unequivocally this: by tuning into our hearts, which encompasses all the values that we deem important.

Our values are the driving factors of our success.

We all have values we believe in. Yet how often do we not live up to the values that we hold in high esteem? How often do we react based on our perceptions, beliefs, and judgments and our values fly out the door?

 

One client recently shared with me that courage and bravery were one of her top values. Yet, she was paralyzed in making decisions and moving forward. Another client shared that their relationship with family was top value, yet they were describing a 16-hour professional workday and the need to cancel a family vacation. And it is not only these two clients. We all at times “trip over our own values.”

Perhaps an important question is how we access more of our brain capacity and awareness of self. In Demarest’s book, The Central Question of Life, Love and Leadership, he focuses on the one question that I often use in my own life, especially when working with individuals and teams:

 

What choice can I make and what action can I take at this moment to create the greatest net value?

 

We all make daily choices. How do we know, however, that the choice we make today will lead us to our desired outcome?

In my practice, I have coined the acronym AMEN to CORE, a 4-step principle that when practiced consistently over time creates a value base success for individuals and organizations.

 

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A stand for Awareness of life and awareness of your purpose, whether individual or organizational. What are you here to achieve? What is the reason that leads you to think that? What are you becoming aware of if you allow this quiet contemplation to brew in your mind? What do you hear as the whispering of your soul?

 

Men stand for Mental Fitness. The idea of being mentally trained follows not only being aware of what sabotages you but the ways you can lean into your sage perspective, which advocates that every outcome can be turned into a gift and opportunity if we let it! The choices that we make have an immeasurable impact on our future. Mental Fitness provides us with a quicker recovery from the choices that led us to an undesirable path and opens our minds with curiosity to discover other available choices.

 

CO stands for Communication. Measure how you speak and how you listen. How coherent are you in your approach? How do you communicate your contribution to maximize your impact?

 

RE stands for Resilience. How committed are you to the path that you create or agree to pursue? What are the ways you are not only accountable but also responsible for achieving your goals and purpose? How consistent and persistent are you?

 

Let’s go back and ask Peter’s central question. What choice can I make and what action can I take at this moment to create the greatest net value? The stronger your mental muscle the more effective your results will be.

 

And here is the big one-million-dollar question- how do you get there?

 

When working on your awareness, consider the following:

  • What do I believe in? What are the values I regard as my north star? (I suggest taking a value-based assessment).
  • What attributes do I need to develop so that I can live my values proudly?
  • What tendencies do I have that may undermine my effectiveness? What triggers them?
  • Knowing that you are triggered by _____. What can you do to bring a more value-based perspective to ______? What would stop you?
  • What value are you committing to living out today?

 

When conversing with others, use the following three short techniques to begin a conversation without judgment:

  • Turn “should” to “could.” How would you feel if someone told you “John, you should do ______ and you should do ______?” Replacing “should” with “could” has the potential to minimize the judgmental tone of your request.

 

  • Replace “why” with “what.” “Why did you do that?” “Why are you___?” may make others feel defensive. Instead, consider asking “what about this situation made you feel ____? What were you hoping to achieve when you did ____?

 

When we change and broaden our thinking, our perspectives, beliefs, and habits change. When we make choices based on our values, we end up living our purpose. When we consider what happened and ask ourselves, “What now?” we bring our A Game wherever we go!

PMTimes_Oct26_2022

5 Reasons Why TeamHeadquarters Will Organize and Simplify Your Project Delivery Service

In this next instalment of my exclusive “5 Reasons Why…: series I am doing an overview of 5 reasons why you should be looking over Entry’s TeamHeadquarters platform to organize your project delivery process. Let’s examine what you can do for your project teams and organization…

Plan, execute, and monitor projects from anywhere

Simply create and manage full scale IT projects with the TeamHeadquarters project management system. Monitor task delivery results in real time and effectively communicate important updates with the project team, sponsors, and senior management. Visual dashboards provide the insight required to identify what tasks impede the project timeline.  Always have up-to-date information at your fingertips to help with timely decision making.

 

Manage project requests using the customer portal

IT departments often don’t have a formal process to receive, analyze, and approve project requests. Using the TeamHeadquarters project request forms provides a simple and effective way to manage the project request lifecycle from inception to delivery utilizing the service ticketing feature. Effectively communicate your customer’s project needs with your required decision makers.

Project forms also help the guide your customers to assist them when determining what project information they are required to submit in order to process a project request and ensure the project analysists have the ability to deliver quicker turn-around times.

 

Understand what IT support requests are causing project delays

Project resources are often called upon to support the IT team. It’s inevitable that support will be required during and after the project rollout phase. These interruptions often create delays to project task timelines. The TeamHeadquarters integrated help desk ticketing system enables the resources to provide support and report activity to better understand and communicate project delays.

 

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Historical reports identify what support items and project tasks were worked on, how many hours were consumed including specific dates, and comments made by the support personnel and customers. This provides the evidence for the project managers to defend project timeline delays. Project managers will have the confidence to properly communicate project delays and reference specific documents events within a single system.

 

Deliver repeatable service projects with the ticketing system and project task import

Repeatable service projects often consume considerable IT resource capacity. These service projects typically have a handful of predictable tasks and can be templated to streamline the projects. TeamHeadquarters ticket templates provides a simple way to initiate and deliver small service projects.

TeamHeadquarters also provides the ability to import a Microsoft Project plan and include the resources assigned to the tasks. This provides our customers the flexibility to create an unlimited list of task templates for multiple project types. As simple file import sets up your project in seconds. Once imported you can begin adjusting or adding tasks at will and monitor the progress in real-time.

 

Manage project and task calendar availability

Tasks are traditionally assigned with hour estimates, start and due dates, and assigned resources. Project systems often lack the ability to add these assignments to a calendar. TeamHeadquarters provides simple task calendaring and seamless synchronization with your Outlook calendar.

Team Members will now have a complete view of all calendar events including tasks and support ticket when viewing the TeamHeadquarters calendar or their Outlook calendar. To make things easier, project tasks, service tickets, and projects can be edited directly from the TeamHeadquarters calendar. No more double booking.

 

Get a complete overview of TeamHeadquarters here.

PMTimes_Oct18_2022

Best of PMTimes: How To Be A Better Project Manager – Advice From PM Experts

Efficiency, quality, and stability are the core values of every well-devised project.

However, these features depend on the knowledge and experience of the person behind the entire enterprise. What makes a PM’s job even more difficult is the fact that often the teams and individuals that participate in the development of a certain business project are hired and picked by the business owner.

It takes a series of personality traits, as well as a profound understanding of the task to be a good project manager, however, to get even better you should read these several pieces of advice we gathered from some of the best people in the business.

 

Keep Project Stakeholders In The Loop

The people that hired you for a certain project are not into surprises, especially if those surprises carry bad news. It might sound like a good idea to keep a setback under the radar and try to fix the problem on your own, but what if things get out of hand and there’s nowhere else to go but straight to your boss?

It’s best if you organize a talk with the stakeholders and explain the situation at hand as soon as there’s an indication things might go sideways and present your plan of action to deal with the issue. This way you’ll have the consent of the board and you might even receive help to speed up the process.

Ben Snyder, the CEO of Systemation, advises timely updates of senior management and stakeholders before doing anything beyond the previously determined course of action.

 

Keep Constant Communication With Your Team

No matter how well we plan a certain project, it’s virtually not possible to develop a plan that’s not going to hit a bump on the road. A member of the team could quit when you need all hands on deck, a social or political event might cause a setback, suppliers could run late, and there’s nothing we could do to stop these kinds of things from happening.

According to Liz Helbock, a senior director at Events.com, it’s imperative to understand that project plans and priorities could, would, and should change, which means you have to be prepared to deal with these situations. Her advice is to learn how to keep uninterrupted communication with your team so these changes won’t catch anyone unprepared.

Liz argues that the best method is to keep all team members up to date with any changes though regular meetings, emailing, and team status reports. This way, no matter which aspect of the project gets changed, the entire team would be aware of the situation and capable to respond properly.

 

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Keep Action Items Under Control

Cindy Calvin, an experienced marketing project manager, believes that controlling action items gives you the ability to stay in control of your project. This way you’ll always know which activities are taking place and who’s accountable for their progress.

In Cindy’s experience, it’s never a good practice to leave a team meeting without a set of action items, teams accountable for every item of each project task, as well as their specifics. It’s also important to plan actions according to priorities of the business owner, so make sure you plan deadlines for each action item so that project milestones are not endangered.

However, you should know how to filter out what’s irrelevant for the success of your project or its current status. No matter if the information comes from your boss or a member of your team, there’s bound to be a set of requests and inputs that simply have no immediate value to your project goals.

 

Win The Support Of Senior Management

Without strong support from “upstairs” projects often crash and burn or simply don’t come out as well as planned. This is why Paul Naybour from Parallel Project Training suggests that a good PM should know how to communicate with senior management and gain their support.

More experienced project managers know that executives don’t care much about your struggle to reach a certain milestone, especially if your issue demands more funds or any change that influences their plans. To win these people over, you should present your demands supported by benefits for the company such as profit grows, market positioning, and opportunities. You should make your demands about the company, not about your project.

 

Conclusion

Being a better project manager means learning from your and other people’s experience every day. It’s also a path that leads to personal and professional setbacks from which you should absorb and generate practical value. These pieces of advice are just a few road signs that you should be aware of, however, it’s up to you to improve and become the best version of yourself. So take notes, and meet every curve prepared and ready to face whatever comes after.