Archives for category: collaboration

Getting things done through others can be the most satisfying or the most frustrating part of our work life.

As a Project Manager, I am often responsible for reporting to stakeholders on the progress the team is making on the project. My job is a whole lot easier when the individuals accountable for the work get the work done when they committed to get it done, at the quality expected by the organization.

Things get difficult when that work doesn’t get done as committed to.  As the the person accountable for reporting status my role becomes a bit of a verbal balancing act. I have to let my stakeholders know that the work that was committed to get done by a certain date is not done. At the same time I can’t throw the team member under the bus who failed to deliver the work as promised. The whole thing starts to boil over for me when the person who failed to deliver is unapologetic and dismissive of letting the team down.

The above scenario isn’t a singular anecdote from one frustrating project. In my 17 years of leading projects I’ve seen it occur many times.  As the Project Manager, I have a responsibility to work with the challenging party. Sometimes, the organization itself enables the behavior. There are tools to help the Project Manager, such as RACI tables (Responsible | Accountable | Consulted | Informed.) But tools only take us so far.

I suggest that creating a strong culture of accountability will significantly increase project success. Aligning individual performance appraisal with project performance helps. Enlist the help of the team member’s manager to ensure that she is aware of what their direct report is accountable for on the project and determine a realistic game plan for successful delivery.  Be sure that the team member is aware that his lack of accountability impacts the entire team and doesn’t go unnoticed.

What has been your experience and what has worked for you?

It’s been a week of communication blues on the job.  As a project manager I certainly understand and appreciate the importance of good communication – not that I always do the greatest job of it.

Something struck me recently after a few incidents in which “communication” arose as an issue among our teams. What struck me was that there are two responsible parties in the communication cycle – the sender and the receiver. Now, I know this isn’t anything new to all of you, but I think at times the receiver’s responsibility  in the communication is often skirted.

Here’s how it plays out.  I’m asked to communicate to certain stakeholders in the organization. I ask what type of information is important to them and  how often they’d like to receive these communications and the format. I diligently provide the comms based on these discussions – yet, I’m still criticized for not communicating enough or the right information. Hmmm…this got me thinking.  What I came up with is that a good percentage of the time the receiving party isn’t reading or listening to the communication.  They are playing a passive role and are more than happy to play ignorant when the issue escalates.

So, I commit to continue to improve on my communication skills – but all you receivers out there need to work harder too.

I’m a consumer of new ideas. I read Fast Company, Fortune, Seth Godin’s Blog, Mashable, and listen to NPR among other sources. I thoroughly enjoy hearing about what’s new and exciting in the world of technology, web and business. Who’s innovating and what’s emerging.

Then, somewhat anti-climatically (dare I say disappointingly), I go to work each day and it seems like I enter the world of yesteryear.  My company isn’t being powered by green energy,  the teams I’m working aren’t collaborating on world changing innovative ideas, and nothing we launch is going viral anywhere. 

So how can I reconcile these two worlds?

For me, I’m thinking of taking a “virtual” trip to the ideas archives. Instead of only reading about current events and innovation, look back and try to line up where my company is on the innovation timeline.

For example, let’s consider social networking\collaboration. In the media we hear about Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Digg, Facebook, etc. Many organizations have tried to replicate  these platforms internally to various levels of success. If we step back and reality check my organization with this trend, we might start with something as simple as  instant messaging.  Anything more will violate the time-space continuum and have limited success.  From there, who knows? Maybe touch-tone phones.

The point is…the flood of media stories about progressive companies sometimes push our organizations to grow up faster than we are ready for.