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Happiness Training and Project Management

Happiness Training and Project Management
By Rosana Francescato

When was the last time your workplace sponsored a seminar on happiness? Never, you say? Yet on a recent weekday morning, nearly 100 co-workers and I crowded into a small auditorium for just that. Though the course was optional, three hours long, and had been advertised only to managers, the room was packed. We were there to see how to be happier and how that would affect our productivity and that of our teams.

You might think this was a feel-good session devoted to learning affirmations, but it was far from that. The relatively new field of positive psychology uses scientific methods to study what makes us happy, giving us a deeper understanding of the causes and effects of happiness as well as tools for achieving those. And it turns out that being happy leads not only to feeling better but also to greater success in all areas of life. Read the Complete Article

Managing a Virtual Project Team

Managing a Virtual Project Team
By Gary Hamilton, Gareth Byatt, and Jeff Hodgkinson

Let’s face it; virtual teams (where we work with colleagues in remote locations, be they close by or in different countries) are now a reality in the workplace. If this trend in the workplace environment continues, virtual working will increasingly influence the way we operate, and the ‘effective virtual team worker’ will be a valued asset. A key benefit to forming virtual teams is the ability to cost-effectively tap into a wide pool of talent from various locations. There are several definitions of the virtual team worker, but within the context of this article, we are talking about people who work on project teams and who display the following attributes:

  • They work primarily from a particular office (maybe a home office, or maybe a fixed work location), and they are not expected to travel each week as a part of their job (i.e.
Read the Complete Article

How to Motivate Your Team During Difficult Times

How to Motivate Your Team During Difficult Times
By Dana Brownlee

Dale Carnegie said “There is only one way to get anyone to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it!” That simple statement represents a profound shift in thinking for many of us. I’ll admit that when I’m thinking about motivating my husband to wash the dishes, I’m really thinking OK…how can I get him to do what I want him to do? That sort of thinking may elicit short term results (or not), but it definitely won’t yield the longer term results I’m seeking. In many ways that is the exact challenge that team leaders, managers, and executives have with their teams – how to motivate in a way that is truly lasting?

Even more daunting is the thought of trying to motivate during difficult times. These difficult times often come in the form of a down economy, layoffs, organizational changes, etc. Read the Complete Article

Don’t Forget Your Project Team

Don’t Forget Your Project Team (#1 in the series Brief Tips for Project Managers)
By Sondre Bjørnebekk

The brief tips in this series are written in a roughly prioritized order. Thus, I had to start with this one – especially since most of my other tips will be somewhat more focused towards the harder aspects of delivering successful projects. So tip number one is:

Do not forget that it is the people in the project teams that actually deliver successful projects

The softer skills, needed to foster a team environment everyone will enjoy, contribute to project success at least as much as methods, templates and processes do. Motivated and happy team members run in circles around their dissatisfied and demoralized cousins! They take responsibilities and grow in a self-reinforcing virtuous circle. When you have gained trust early on in the project, they start raising issues as early as they even begin to sense them, instead of just before they blow up on you all. Read the Complete Article

Coaching for Project Success

Coaching for Project Success
By Tom Ferguson

Project managers, are you playing the hero? Get off the stage and leave it to your team. Focus on giving them the limelight by developing and unleashing their collective passion, energy and creativity. Create inspiring visions with ambitious goals and dreams. Then act as coach to mine their hidden depths for possibilities, actions and solutions. Achieve the impossible in your projects.

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? The performance bar has been raised to new heights in the corporate world. Everyone is talking about change, reinvention and how we must be knowledge workers and learning organisations. Coaching is the new management. Many of the leading business corporations are putting executive coaching at the centre of their management practice.

They are attempting to develop the kind of leaders that will create the extraordinary organisations that will be necessary to compete tomorrow. Leaders at all levels are creating a new paradigm. Read the Complete Article

What Do Team Members Want From Their Project Manager?

What Do Team Members Want From Their Project Manager?
By Bruce McGraw

There are character traits that most of us would like to believe we possess and that we want to find in the people we work with and work for: trust, integrity, respect, and honesty—sort of like the mantra of the Boy Scouts. Good project managers have those traits and others that make people want to work for them.

What are the traits and behaviors that team members want in their project leader or immediate boss? Here are my observations from being a project manager and observing other PMs—some that were effective and valued and others who were pariahs that employees did everything they could to avoid.

Behaviors Team Members Want in a Project Manager

  • Information sharing. What is happening? What is likely to happen? What effect will it have on me and on the project? Project managers often have access to the thinking and plans of senior management.
Read the Complete Article

Trust: Your 6th Sense of Project Management

Trust: Your 6th Sense of Project Management
By Mike Boyer Smith

Think about the people you manage – do you trust them to deliver? Chances are you know you can rely on most of them, but then there’s one who always misses their deadlines, or needs constant pushing…

For those who don’t deliver so reliably, there are four possible reasons why they’re not performing:

  1. They’re not committed to meeting your expectations.
  2. They don’t know what your expectations are.
  3. They don’t have the skills to deliver.
  4. They’re not motivated.

While it may seem like number one is always the cause, it may be one of the other reasons, and you can control these by exercising your communication skills.

So increasing your trust in them is as much about what you can do as what they can do.

However, you can use decreasing trust as a trigger to check your management approach. When you feel your trust in a colleague’s ability to deliver starting to fall:

  • Discuss their understanding of your expectations and make sure you’re both working towards the same goal.
Read the Complete Article

Project Management Mind Games

Project Management Mind Games
By Tom Ferguson

As well as a written work contract, project team members will have also defined a psychological contract that will influence how they contribute to a project. The psychological contract consists of a set of mutual expectations that team members and Project Managers have about satisfying a set of mutual needs. It is part of the mind games of Project Management.

Team members will typically expect:

  • Safe working conditions
  • Fairness and respect
  • Equal work distribution
  • Clarity of role and responsibilities
  • Clarity in work assignments
  • Opportunities to develop
  • Participation in project decisions
  • Adequate rewards
  • Recognition for achievements

The Project Manager will typically expect:

  • Adherence to policies and procedures
  • Commitment, innovation, creativity
  • Team player
  • Maintenance of the organisation’s reputation
  • Trust, honesty and integrity

In a nutshell, it is a game of give and take – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. The psychological contract can have more influence over behaviour than any written contract or positional power or authority that the Project Manager or anyone else can bring to bear. Read the Complete Article

Inspire Your Team

Inspire Your Team
By Barry Otterholt

There are lots of variables in a project, but none so important as the human sentiment. Remarkable accomplishments are seen from inspired people, and remarkable teams are seen from an inspired leader.

So what can you do to inspire your team? Here are a few tips:

  1. Know them uniquely – Go 1-on-1 with them and learn what matters to them.
  2. Find their gift – Observe what they do well, and not well. Help them understand their natural gifts, and channel your opportunities to align with their strengths.

  3. Promote them – More than just giving them a raise or a new title, call attention to them. Let people around you know what they’re good at and give them your endorsement.

  4. Take risks – As you see strengths, give opportunities that may stretch them. Let them know you won’t abandon them if they fail, but track their progress so they won’t.

Read the Complete Article

Cost of Project Success

Cost of Project Success
By Thomas Cutting

Great things can be accomplished if Scope, Budget and Duration are no object. Here are some historical examples:

Hoover Dam

  • Scope: Stop a river and produce 2080 megawatts of power.
  • Budget: $49M US cost (under budget)
  • Duration: < 5 years (2 years ahead of schedule)
  • Added Expense: 112 Deaths

Egyptian Pyramid

  • Scope: Started as a grave. Scope creep resulted in one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World with quite a bit of gold plating, literally.
  • Budget: Spare not Cost
  • Duration: 27 years each
  • Added Expense: Slave Labor

Great Wall of China

  • Scope: Stop the Xiongnu attacks with a really big wall (6400km / 4000miles long)
  • Budget: Unknown
  • Duration: Several Centuries
  • Added Expense: 2 to 3 million Chinese lives

Each of these was an amazing project and each came with a high price tag in human lives.

Unfortunately there are a fair number of companies that force their teams to nearly kill themselves for unrealistic timelines. Read the Complete Article

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