Archives for posts with tag: people

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?

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. – Albert Schweitzer

Yesterday we celebrated my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary.  They were surrounded by their children, grandchildren, my mother-in-law’s 92 year old father, friends, sisters and brothers.  It was a beautiful, sunny spring day and the location was a renovated farm house on a hill overlooking a glistening pond.

My wife and her two siblings got up to toast their parents. They shared how their mom and dad’s life impacted them.  They talked about their generosity and emphasis creating family ritual. They shared how important they were in their childhood and how important it was that they were so involved with their grandchildren – attending school and sports events. They talked about their legacy.

Whether we realize or not, we all make an impact in each other’s lives.  Sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle.

The choice for this week is to take moments of reflection to realize that you have a choice to make a positive impact – to share your kindness, knowledge, and time.  Make it your gift without any expectation of something in return.

[Note: This is the 12th (and last) in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]

He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped. – Benjamin Franklin

Each year at review time, we sit down with our managers and get our yearly feedback.  For most, the majority of the feedback is positive – goals have been met, performance is strong, relationships have been developed. Then there is the “areas for development.” Our ears prick up, our heart beats a bit faster, palms might get sweaty, we are listening much more closely. As our manager ticks off these articles of criticism we feel the sting and we may start to respond defensively or hang our heads in defeat.

Here are some other choices and perspectives we can make:

First, criticism is a fact of life. We get it in our professional and our personal lives. So be prepared to receive it. Consciously we all say we like “constructive feedback” – until someone gives it to us.

Second, try not to take it personally. This is something I have been exercising recently. I was starting to let criticism “in” and allowing it to affect my self esteem. By refocusing and moving the criticism to my actions or results allowed me to look at it more objectively and respond to it better. Then I could ask myself, “Who’s offering the criticism, and are they qualified? Are they trying to help me or hurt me? Objectively, is there any truth to what they are saying?” After asking myself these questions I was in a much better position to respond in a positive way.

Third, use criticism as a learning tool. Don’t just brush off the criticism. Make sure you are receptive and think about what is being said.  Think back on your career to a time when you received critical feedback that you dismissed at that moment only later to realize was sound advice.

We all want to be right, have the best ideas and be viewed positively by our peers, bosses and reports.  Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you have offered feedback to someone in a constructive way and they thoughtfully looked away for a second, turned back to you, smiled, and said, “What a great suggestion!  Thanks.”

[Note: This is the 10th in a 12-week series of posts that will discuss “choices” from the book Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.]