Project management is changing….it's becoming more strategic, more mainstream, and not just synonymous with technology implementations. Today's PM needs to be more than technically adept or be able to whip out a gantt chart. Get a read on some of these crucial skills the everyday PM will need to succeed:
Some time back I spent about three hours writing and doing emails at one of our local malls. I love this place because there are lots of tables to sit at and the mall has free wireless access so I can be online all the time. As I was exiting the mall I noticed a woman about 20 feet away from the entrance heading into the mall. As I walked out the door I held the door open for this woman for a few seconds. As she walked by me into the mall she said "WOW!" She was surprised that I actually took three seconds out of my life to hold a door open for a complete stranger. Imagine what I could have done with those three seconds that I wasted :-).
Some years back one of my sales directors had been diligently working with online retailers to partner to get our retail product on their websites. During a one week period she had several very promising phone calls which in turn generated lots of excitement on her part. The term exuberant couldn't quite capture how she was truly feeling. She was absolutely giddy with excitement. More importantly, she landed several very profitable accounts. Love it!
Several years back I managed a group of very high-energy, spirited, vocal managers. One of the managers was particularly vocal on just about every issue. This manager, who I'll call "Vox", frequently complained to me about other managers, about how Vox's organization wasn't being rewarded appropriately, and how Vox's organization needed more people than Vox's peers. I did a lot of discussing with Vox about the issues that Vox faced but found that I would frequently give in to Vox's demands. Vox's peers became very frustrated not only with Vox but also with me because I was showing preferential treatment to Vox. Vox was the squeaky wheel, and I would grease it just to stop it from squeaking. Bad on me.
Just about every seasoned project manager has experienced at least one failure in his or her career. I am always skeptical of the experienced PM who says "I've never failed". They're either lying or don't have experience. Some of my best (and most painful) growth as a professional occurred because of a failed project. Project managers can redeem themselves and maintain credibility by doing the following:
As a small business owner I’ve had many many discussions with colleagues about my products and services. Throughout these discussions I have gleaned some outstanding pieces of advice about things I should be focusing on and ideas that I should be pursuing. I also have been on the receiving end of some pretty random ideas which may have had some merit in the eyes of the beholder but just didn't seem to fit well with the direction that I want to take the business. One colleague of mine got pretty peeved with me because I wasn't executing upon his advice. The truth is, his advice just didn't align with the other advice I was getting and didn't fit well with the direction that I want to go. I stuck with my spider-senses and didn't execute upon his advice.
When I was a kid one Christmas I got a Lionel train set from my parents. It was really cool. The locomotive had a smoke stack that actually "smoked" when you put a drop of oil into it. The transformer which governed the speed of the train went all the way up to "90" (I still believe it was in "miles per hour!") and had three rail cars and a caboose. The train set also came with enough track to form a figure-8. Imagine that!
I’ve noticed an interesting trend in working with my clients. There is an increased focus on companies assembling project teams comprised of cross-organizational team members to solve problems. This is increasingly being done in favor of single organizations trying to produce results on their own. More and more project teams are taking on "virtual" characteristics where teams are temporarily assembled and could be located anywhere in the country or the world.
When I was a kid in Connecticut I went with my Father to bring my sister and her infant son to the train station. My sister had a lot of bags so my Father helped her carry her things on to the train. I was standing on the platform waiting for my Father to get off the train so we could go home. Then all of a sudden the train started moving with my Father still on the train! Here I am, an 8-year-old boy standing on the train platform all by myself while my Father is on the train heading to Washington DC. It was one of the scariest times of my entire childhood, being left on the train platform all by myself.
Over the years I have been on both ends of constructive (and not so constructive) criticism. Quite frankly, I still struggle with doing this flawlessly every time, but I've put together some guiding principles that I try to work under and thought might be helpful to you: