Team Building

The First 100 Days…

100days Taking over a software project halfway through can be difficult depending on how well the transition is managed. In the first 100 days of the job, your top priority should be establishing trust between yourself and your team members. You need to trust your team to execute the plan and they need to believe that you will give them what they need to accomplish the plan. To gain their trust, we suggest using the following strategies:

Listening: One of the qualities of being a great project manager is communication. As someone new to the team, practice active listening. This is important because each project team is unique in terms of its culture, strengths and problems.

Learning: Ask the crucial question “Why?” about elements of the project’s schedule and solution. Take time to understand the project’s current status, past project decisions, team members’ strengths, and stakeholders’ expectations. Being able to understand your stakeholder will help you to better communicate/manage expectations for the path forward. Knowing your team members’ strengths will enable you to effectively align the planned tasks with the right individuals.

Leading:
In order to earn your team’s trust and the stakeholders’ confidence, act with highest integrity and transparency. How do you accomplish this in your day-to-day activities? By consistently communicating what you plan to do and doing what you planned.

There are always bumps and bruises along the way, but by the end of the first 100 days, your team and you will trust each other to accomplish the goals we set forth.

How to Avoid the Seven Deadly Project Management Sins

Project management planning relies on the proper
communication of ideas as well as the give and take in vetting those ideas
among the creative team you’ve assembled to tackle the project. Standing at the
helm of this team, the project manager has the power to bring the project down
by turning the ideas and team against one another, or leverage it by using a
few guidelines that might seem elementary, but are often forgotten in the fray
of project management scenarios.

1)  Drill
Down on Specifics:
Make clear to your team what is expected of thSeven-sins-of-pmem. You
might want to save time by dolling out the minimum of information for them to
work on, but they’re not mind readers. Just because they’re on the same team
doesn’t mean they inherently know what’s going on in every scenario. Take the
time to fully inform each team member of all the details they’ll need to add to
the project.

2)  Respect
Your Team:
Spirited projected management meetings can get intense, but
always respect the opinions of those on your team and use a tone that conveys a
sense of acceptance to the ideas that are being tossed around. Sarcasm has no
place in the project management planning process, nor do rude, condescending or
threatening behaviors.

3)  Embrace
Conflict:
Great ideas are born out of a necessity to defend one’s position.
Sometimes the best idea is the only one that is offered and it’s a total
failure. Empower the team to come up with original ideas that might defy
convention. This doesn’t mean good ideas need a counterbalance, but never
stifle an idea because it challenges your favorite solution.

4)  The
Process Isn’t Everything:
Rules are meant to be broken. The project
management outline is an important piece of the puzzle, but don’t let the
outline dictate the outcome if the positive flow of the process begins to drift
outside of what was originally intended. Often times, the project management
team feels secondary to the process. Don’t forget that it’s the team that
delivers the goods, not the strictly structured outline of the process.

5)  Vote
Early. Vote Often:
What’s true in crooked elections is true in successful
project management planning. Each task the team embarks upon needs to be
analyzed and tested to see if they’re actually making an impact. Testing will
provide the systematic alert system that will raise the red flag when something
is going south.

6)  Helicopter
Bosses are a Distraction:
We’ve all heard about helicopter parents who
hover, watch, listen, and swoop in the take control of a situation, thus
micromanaging every process of their children’s life. This happens too often in
project management. The project manager needs to lead, not wait for a train
wreck to clean up after. In some cases, the project manager can actually cause
the wreck when they suddenly become a working “member” of the group without
having spent the hours in the trenches with them.

7)   Focus on
the Positive:
Don’t be a downer; you’ll sink the team. Acknowledge the
failures but don’t dwell on them. Reward the behaviors that you see as
desirable instead of harping on the negative. This type of behavior has a “pay
it forward” effect and can infect the team.

Remember, it is possible to create, facilitate and support a project management
environment without conflict, but the tone must be set from the top down. If
you make professionalism and success your priority in the strategy you create,
adjusting as needed, you’re bound to enjoy more profitable operations.

 

Zen Leadership

If you master Zen you’ll be a great leader. But if you study Zen just to become a great leader you’ll never master it. – August TurakZen

The practice of Zen in both business and daily life is centered on the paradoxical acceptance above. As instinctually conflicting as it may seem, to truly be a great leader you must release yourself of your innate desire to lead. We no longer live in a world where the business model of leadership is intimidation, and seeing oneself as the all-controlling dictator will only lead to failing performances of your employees. Demands and thre

ats only create fear and sub-par work. If someone is only concerned about being ‘adequate’ enough to maintain their position, then they will never have those singular breakthroughs that occur when they are genuinely interested in the success of the business.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to brew up some green tea and roll out the yoga mats though. Zen leadership simply means that the success and well-being of the entire team has to come before your own personal needs. Experiential wisdom should be the driving force in your organization’s growth, rather than a focus on theoretical knowledge and pre-formulated business models. You need to be willing to grow, adapt, and expand right along with your staff. Here are the 10 Keys to Zen Leadership that will help reveal the potential Steve Jobs inside us all.

1) Lead by Example

– Make sure that you personally are living up to the same expectations you have in others. If you insist on punctuality and enthusiasm, then you too need to be on-time and excited in order for others to live up to your requests. No matter how loud you may talk, people will always be more apt to do as you do then as you say.

2) Communicate Clearly

– You want everybody on board to have the same vision of objectives and success that you do. If Bill Lumberg taught us anything in Office Space, it’s that silence will get you nowhere. On the flip-side, you also don’t want to over-complicate things with too much information. Be clear and as simple as possible. Honesty is essential, as you don’t want anyone to think you are trying to manipulate them in any way.

3) Encourage Constructive Argument

– Allow for open debate and questioning within your personnel. Not only does vocalized disagreement lead to potential problems being resolved before they happen, but it also alleviates any potential angst between co-workers. People should feel free and willing to discuss issues with one another.

4) Accept Input and Welcome Change

– It should be as easy as possible for persons to give you feedback – both personal and business related. You should have an open channel for any and all comments, and you can not have any fear in potentially revising your vision. The best idea you haven’t thought of may come from the most unexpected employee, and they should not be deterred in any way from expressing their concept. Always believe in the potentiality of someone coming up with a better or more-efficient plan.

5) Give Credit and Acknowledge Others

– Never let anyone doubt that they aren’t an essential member of the team. Acknowledging everyone’s addition to the project, no matter how menial the task, will only improve enthusiasm and work-output from all angles. Do this throughout the course of a project, not just at completion. If praise is lavished upon you, then redirect it to people for whom the credit is actually do. Show pride in your team, while remembering there is no shame in being overly humble.

6) Review and Adjust – Don’t Rank and Punish

– If a goal wasn’t met, then figure out what errors occurred and how they can be resolved. Punishing someone for mistakes will only make them fear thinking out of the box again. Finding the problem and making the necessary adjustments will not only prevent a repeat of the error, but will promote further expansion of new ideas.

7) Have a Clear Vision of Defeat

– Make sure to have a clear understanding of what the warning signs are for a potential disaster. Rather then deny any occurring down-slope, recognize any happening failures before they completely fall apart. Don’t be afraid to start again from the beginning.

8) Be Willing To Adapt

– Feel no necessary commitment to previous business models. Evolution is constant and more rapid than ever – feeling that you need to stick with only one game-plan will result in you losing out to newer and upgraded networks. If there’s an easier way to do something, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Don’t make things more complex than they need to be.

9) Relinquish Power

Your goal as a Zen leader is to enable your team to operate successfully without you. Levels of trust should be utilized for maximum output from your employees. You should feel secure in your people’s abilities, and be confident enough to delegate more responsibility once they are prepared. An appreciation for worker’s efforts will make them want to live up to the confidence you hold in them, and subsequently create a desire within them to do as much as they can for the team.

10) The Zen Leader is In All of Us

– Forget the notion of being a ‘natural born’ leader. The true Zen leader can arise from any and all of us. When leading through Zen, you are not controlling a group of people but rather uniting a group in a way that brings out the full potential of what their combined efforts may produce. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the Zen leader has the delicate vision to know how to correctly add them up. The humble desire for the overall success of the greater good is the first and most important step. Once these notions are realized, the beneficial ramifications, both business and personal, are vast and expansive.

Thank You Letters

Thanks Writing a thank you letter is a common courtesy. There are various times when writing a thank you letter is appropriate – anything from a formal, post-interview thank you letter to a casual, from the heart thanks to the person you went above and beyond to make a project a success. Writing a thank you letter will always serve as a kind and conscientious gesture.

A thank you letter demonstrates thoughtfulness, which is a characteristic many employers and people value. Since so few take the time to write a thank you letter, someone who does will indeed be remembered. Your thank you letter does not need to be lengthy. Just a few kind words will show that you put some time and thought into your message.

Please click here for some free sample thank you letters covering a variety of situations.

Leadership for Those Who Remain

After layoffs it’s difficult yet important for managers to maintain high morale anJoined handsd productivity for the  remaining. Their collective head is
spinning with fear and anxiety that you need to replace with confidence. It’s important to:

  • Stress the fact that the layoffs were not a reflection of the performance of the staff who were laid off.
  • Be open and available  assist with reprioritizing and rebalancing workloads among the remaining staff.
  • Focus on addressing relevant employee concerns and how the company will move forward.
  • Keep the programs and initiatives that serve to align employees and provide a return on investment. Examples include celebrating success and the achievement of milestones at a company and individual level.

Read “On the case: Go team! Pretty please?” for ideas on how to boost employee morale after a series of layoffs.