At times things can become very complicated for project managers. It makes sense, right? We have oversight of multiple teams and team members and must interact with multiple organizations and stakeholders. Everyone wants something in a different way. People speak different languages, communicate differently and hey, it gets complicated. I like to uncomplicate my projects and simplify life. I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way, and the fruit of those lessons are the following eight calls to action, simple steps you can take that will uncomplicate and bring great benefit to your projects.
- Missing Somebody? Call them. Just pick up the phone and give them a call or text. Perhaps someone critical to your project team has not been around much and you wonder where they have gone. For whatever reason, if you miss someone on the team or in your meetings, find out what they’ve been up to. I remember a critical team member, Wayne, who was always early and always stayed to the end. He was the one who scribed notes, asked questions and always had his action items done. When Wayne started to miss meetings I just gave him a call one day to ask where he’d been, and found out he was going through a personal crisis which altered his behavior for several months. Only because I called was I able to find out how I could support him while he was going through his personal issues.
- If you want to meet with someone that is supplemental to your team such as a specific stakeholder or client, just invite them. Sometimes we talk about getting together or the need for information from someone but never take that step. It’s very simple and uncomplicated to invite someone to meet whether it’s over phone, web or coffee at a local shop. A lot of things can get handled just by inviting someone to meet, and probably they need to meet with you for some reason as well.
- Want to be understood? Explain. All of us are seeking to be understood, and there’s always someone who complains that no one understands or gets their point. The onus, however, is on us to explain ourselves better. The more the project manager can explain not only what’s happening on the project, the timeline and deliverables, but can also explain the customer stakeholder’s position to the team and vice versa, the more people will understand you and your point and the sooner things get done.
- Have Questions? Ask. If you have questions, then by all means ask. In one of my prior corporate positions as project manager I felt it was an environment I couldn’t ask questions in. I was too intimidated, or it wasn’t the status quo, or it was too political to ask question of key people. And boy did I have to pay for that. It is critical for you to keep asking questions until you get the information you need. You may need to ask multiple questions in multiple ways to multiple people, but keep at it until you have the details you need to make decisions and get the project on its way.
- Don’t Like Something? Say It. It doesn’t have to be hostile, derogatory or mean spirited; just say, “You know, I really don’t like that.” It’s not about getting your way, but sometimes if you just express your dislike about something other people are probably relieved that somebody finally spoke up to point out when something doesn’t sound right or isn’t working correctly.
- Like Something? State It. If you like how someone is performing on your team, mention it. “I really like how you approached that situation. I really like how you are pulling the team together. I really like how you were able to talk with the client or stakeholders, to get information and clarify those expectations.”
- If you want something you can’t sit around and mull about it, make excuses or blame others as to why you aren’t getting things. Ask specifically for what you want and don’t leave people guessing. Let them know when, why and in what format you need it. Be as clear as you can.
- A lot of times we tell others how much we appreciate team members, customers or stakeholders but actually fail to tell that person, so they never know. If you just let someone know that you appreciate them it goes a long way to encourage loyalty and behaviors that you like.
So what are the benefits of uncomplicating your project?
- You increase communication on the project.
- You increase results for the project because you actually get things done in a timely manner and people collaborate and communicate more effectively.
- You increase team work and loyalty to you as the project manager.
If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.
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