Know your audience

How many times have you been told that? How many times have you really known your audience—especially for that first meeting; especially if you are taking over a project mid-term, or worse, a failing project?

The key is to really know what your presentation needs to convey. What you need to share and the information you need to gather, and then being adaptable. You as the project manager must be agile and able to quickly read personalities, watch for hidden agendas, and read between the lines.

You also need to be a good speaker. Nothing turns people’s ears off faster than a string of um’s, you knows, so….and any other number of filler words/sounds. Or someone like that monotone professor, we’ve almost all had one, that can put even the most caffeinated person to sleep no matter the content.

If you have this issue, get thee to Toastmasters post haste—it is the best investment you will ever make.

Communication is key, first impressions count, so do everything you can to make it your best.


Do you have “Grit”

As defined by Merriam-Webster one of the definitions of grit is: ” firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger “–you know–the tough stuff. The stuff that makes West Point cadets not quit. The stuff that keeps navy Seals from ringing the bell.

OK, I see the eyes rolling—what does this have to do with Project Management? Well…if you are going to be a Project Manager, you better have some good amount of grit in you. You have to have endurance for difficult, agonizing and at times, totally consuming effort.

The effort given is rewarded by movement towards mastery of the field. However, one does not become a master of Project Management overnight. Like athletes or great scholars; time in pursuit, recoveries from failures and like the little engine that could-keeping the “I can do it” mindset, are of great importance.

For someone else’s take on grit see this blog post by Bret L. Simmons: GRIT


Are you in the Zone?

Are you in the zone, groove or flow? You know that spot where things just snap into place, time becomes irrelevant, you become one with what you are doing? What….you think work can’t be like that? Then you are wrong.

If the goals are crystal clear, a bit of stretch from current abilities, that with focus provides satisfaction, then you can get there. Too much stretch or too little causes impedance and block the flow preventing the ability to get into the groove/zone. A slot car that comes out of its slot may continue down the track, but at a much slower rate and out of control. It also then may cause damage, and may impede other cars. Translating this to your project, they may cause derailment. For the business, this can obviously be a source of added cost.

Research like that of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi as provided in one of his books, Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play; worker satisfaction and organizational health are high when work is a no-flow zone.  Workplaces where there is no grove/flow have a high level of employee disengagement and dissatisfaction.

Your projects will be smoother if you get them in the grove.

Are you giving your team what they need to be in the zone?

3 Questions…

Have you asked each of your project team members these 3 questions?

  1. What is your understanding of the project objectives?
  2. What role do you play in delivering project results?
  3. Is there anything in your way of accomplishing the results and what can I do to help?

If not, why?

Even if you think there is no room for misinterpretation of your project plans, instructions, timelines, risk evaluation, etc; are you willing to bet your project on it? Or is it worth just a bit more time, not just at the beginning of the project, but regular intervals to ensure it?

Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised with everyone on the same page. Sometimes the opposite is true. But it is much easier to reset the bar before 100 hour is down the tube and re-work is needed. I prefer to spend the bit of extra time…and you?

I really detest RED status items in my project report outs, period.