There’s nothing like going to the experts when you need an answer. If you have a question about your car, you’ll ask a mechanic. If you are wondering about your finances, you’ll visit an accountant. And, if you have a question about Project Management, a great place to start is the LinkedIn community of Project Managers. That’s exactly where we went over the past few months to get answers to some burning questions we had at PDUs2Go.com! Below are three questions we asked and some of the answers we received.
Is there an “Art” to Project Management?
This is a question near and dear to my heart as I recently put on a presentation for a group of project managers that discussed this topic. I was wondering if project management met the definition of “art”. One definition of art being “the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect”. My take has always been that every project I undertake involves influencing and affecting one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect to get things done and thus fits the definition.
What did the LinkedIn Project Management community think? The following are some of the responses we received:
- I believe project management is both a science and an art. Just like a painter needs to master the basics of his trade (brush strokes, color mixing, perspective…), so too must a PM master the basics of project management before they can hope to manage politically complex projects requiring soft skills.
- I’m not convinced that Project Management is art in the true sense of the word. Is it not just the skillful use of knowledge and experience to “craft” a successful result that makes it appear to be an “art”?
- I agree that Project Management is an Art. If you think in terms of a musical metaphor, you may have all of the right instruments, musicians and sheet music for a performance. But you need a leader to count down the start of the song, set the tempo, sequence the harmonies and the solos and bring everyone together for the finish.
- I can’t agree with your assessment that Project Management is an “art”. PMI defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.” All of this can be learned and practiced and “art” does not appear in the definition.
Looks like the jury is still out when it comes to Project Management being an “art”. Regardless, whether you view yourself as an artist or battle-scarred project warrior…the results of being a PMP Certified Project Manger are the same. Projects delivered on-time and on-budget.
What Words Do You Use to Tick People Off?
This question came to me as I overheard a non-technical associate tell their technical counterpart that his application “crashed”. Yikes! You could see the hair on the back of his neck stand up and the next few minutes were spent on clarifying exactly what the word “crashed” meant. While it is true that sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you…there are some words that we use in our professional lives that just sends people over the edge! I wanted to know what some of those words were and posed them to the LinkedIn Project Management community. Here were some of their responses:
- The word “FRANKLY” is often followed by an overly blunt comment. Anytime I start to say “frankly,” I try to catch myself, be more patient, and recalibrate what I’m about to say. I like putting myself in the other person’s shoes first.
- The classic advice from Dale Carnegie about never literally saying “You’re wrong” is still key today. You can say someone is wrong it without saying it in any number of ways that will get cooperation to resolve the issue. It just takes a little patience and figuring out of what’s the best way to get the facts out objectively, with the goal of getting the issue resolved.
- Many times it’s not really about the “words”, but rather the tone of voice, or even the health of the relationship that is at the crux of the issue. Injured relationships cannot withstand much (even a look might do it), and harsh words may add to the problem.
Well said. The bottom line is that if you have the right motives, your colleagues understand your job is to make sure the project gets done, and you are objective about what you say…you will rarely need to say those words that tick people off.
How Do You Motivate Team Members on a Troubled Project?
Every project that is undertaken is filled with hope and optimism that it will be completed successfully. Sometime that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. A project may drag on and on due to technical issues, end up going way over budget, or fall between the cracks because leaders in the organization are on to ‘the next big thing’.
All of the above take a toll on those team members who are assigned to the project and come in day-after-day to get it done. I wondered what some of the things were that Project Managers did to keep team members in these situations motivated, interested, and even inspired. Below are some of their suggestions:
- The most important thing in keeping team members motivated is at the very least to not DEMOTIVATE them. I have experienced scenarios where team members lose interest as they are constantly pestered for percentage complete status, criticized, not allowed to share suggestions, ideas, views, and threatened for missing the deadlines.
- An honest evaluation of why the project is in trouble and a genuine atmosphere of identifying and fixing problems rather than assigning blame.
- Appreciate the effort being made by the team especially when they are making efforts to get the project back on track. Be vocal in promoting that the team is doing something to get the project back on track. This will typically result in increased morale and a team that feels appreciated for the extra work they are doing.
- Success is the best motivator. Manage the project and lead the team. Eliminate the failures (or issues) and make realistic and achievable milestones in order to lead to success.
It’s true that it’s hard to be on a troubled project as a team member. But, as a Project Management professional you can make the experience bearable, and in the end everyone can be that much better for the experience.
Have any questions you would like to have answered? Be sure to join the PDUs2Go.com LinkedIn group and post them there. We’d love to hear from you!