“Discussion” is defined by Dictionary.com as the examination or consideration of a matter in speech or writing. This definition holds true for LinkedIn Discussions. There is ample consideration of a matter given by experienced Project Managers whenever we pose a question to a LinkedIn Project Management group. Below is a sample of just some of the hundreds of responses we’ve received to the following three questions.
Question One: Do You Need to Be a Good Multi-Tasker to Be a Great Project Manager?
Today’s work environment seems to be driven by interruption. Phones are ringing, text messages are waiting, three to four instant messages are going on at the same time, and webinars are being attended. And, it’s not even 9:00 in the morning yet! While we have all become accustomed to processing the incessant barrage of tasks coming our way, we wondered if this was the best way for project managers to get things done. The following responses lead us to believe that there has to be a better way:
- Study after study shows that Multi-Tasking actually lowers performance. If I’m “in the zone”, I try not to answer my phone or email. Rather than attempting multiple tasks at once, I time-box my tasks and make that time count. I call it Single-Tasking! Before I did this, drafting a Project Plan, Communication Plan or Project Charter would take upwards of 45 minutes. Sure, I was answering emails, walk-by questions and my phone, but how much was I really getting done? The big ‘A-ha!’ moment was when I realized that breaking down the total of all these tasks, it was really only 30 minutes of work for me.
- Multi-tasking is not conducive to productivity. Just because you look and act busy doesn’t mean you’re getting anything done. Conversing on the phone and driving at the same time is a perfect example of multi-tasking. You cannot do one without losing focus on the other.
- Multi-tasking is indeed important, but I would consider the ability to prioritize even more of an important skill. Nowadays, we all have a lot of distractions– emails, smart phones, interrupted conversations. We need to make the right decision if we want to be effective. As a former Recruiter, I would be more inclined to make an offer to a project manager who can do only 2 or 3 tasks, but with good prioritization rather than someone capable of doing 4 or 5 things at the same time with poor planning or idea of criticality.
While there were exceptions to the above thoughts, the bulk of the responses by far showed that FOCUS and PRIORITIZATION is what makes a project manager great!
Question Two: How Do You Know When You’ve Done a Good Job as a Project Manager?
There are times when being a Project Manager is a thankless job. OK…there may be lots of times that being a Project Manager is a thankless job. Despite this fact, we all continue to perservere in our chosen profession and get the job done. Since ‘pats on the back’ are few and far between, we wondered how Project Managers knew when they did a good job. The following insight was provided by members of the PMP LinkedIn Community:
- I think it depends on who your customer is. If you are doing work for paying customers, then “peace and quiet” may be a good sign. If your customer is an end user, the lessons learned is typically where you know if you did a good job. If you feel like you just left the boxing ring, there may be room for improvement. If everyone feels good about the project, you are on the right track.
- If you’re looking for whether you, individually, as a Project Manager did a good job, outside of the project’s success or failure, the noise level is a key indicator – it means you successfully communicated risks, managed expectations, and had contingency plans in place. It’s actually harder to tell if good project management was used on successful projects. A plan for moving forward as an organization from a failed project is a much better indicator that the PM steered a good course.
- There is no such thing as applause or a cigar when finishing a project. One customer reminded me that all I’ve done is what I was hired for. At the end, one can always look back to realize how good one did. Having that in mind, most of my focus has turned to getting things done, deliverables signed off, and delivering on planned dates.
The theme that resonated throughout these discussions is that it is up to the Project Manager to know when they have done a good job. The internal feeling of satisfaction that comes from a job well done is what keeps us moving forward.
Question Three: If You were Stranded on a Desert Island, Which Three Project Management Documents would you bring with you and Why?
Out of all the questions we have posed, this one elicited the most diverse set of responses. For the record, this was not intended to be a trick question for the purpose of getting witty responses, but rather a serious question to identify which three documents a Project Manager deems most important. We’ll share with you a few of each:
- For me it would be the Project Charter, the Project Management Plan and the Project Scope Statement.
- The Project Charter would allow me to get the appropriate resources. Then, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) so I know how much work there will be to do and a Project Status Report to know current status, next steps, whether things are under control and what risks need to be mitigated.
- I would choose the Scope Statement to understand the overall business case and end state. Next would be the WBS to understand the work that was involved to accomplish the scope. Finally, I would like a timeline that would help to understand and track the resources required and the sequences and interdependencies to accomplish the WBS.
After reviewing hundreds of responses, it appears that the documents Project Managers put the most importance on are the Project Charter, a Work Breakdown Structure, and some type of Risk Mitigation Plan.
Less Than Serious Responses
There were also plenty of the following responses that would fall into the “less than serious” category:
- Any document that can be lit on fire easily. Normal this is your Scope, Budget and Schedule. I know they burn easy where I work.
- I would like to have my Communications plan with me so I can use it to call one of my stakeholders to come and rescue me.
- Plenty of Whiskey.
Funny stuff. Shows that humor is alive and well in the Project Management community.
I’d love to hear about some of the questions you have wondered about. Drop me a line or include them in the Blog Posting of this article and we’ll see if we can get you some answers!