Saturday, May 25, 2019

Project Manager Traits

Having been a Project Manager and managing Project Managers, I have identified three critical traits to be an excellent Project Manager. Currently, I have the privilege to train a team of Millennials, whom have never been Project Managers. I appreciate their anxiousness to learn. Below is what I have imparted on them, not only as a starting point, but also for performance evaluation.

  • Meet Deadlines
  • Raise flags when any element is jeopardizing the timeline
  • Be pro-active on approaching deadlines (internal and external)
The first two bullets seem obvious, but to a new Project Manager, not so much. They bear full emphasis on their key responsibilities.

The third bullet requires the most attention. Without it, inexperienced PMs will wait for the responsible party to fulfill their duties on-time. This is a major process fail point, with potential, and substantial, penalties.

Here is one more piece of wisdom to impart on a new, or experience PM for that matter, that coincides with the third bullet. An acronym that should be a poster on every Project Managers wall.

P - Push
U - Until
S - Something
H - Happens

Ensure your Project Managers lead the schedule and connect with each area on the project, before the deadline!

If Project Managers follow these basic guidelines, the projects' success is assured.

Friday, April 5, 2019

FOCUS

Are you inundated with communication? Emails, IMs, meetings, and if it still exists, phone calls. On any given day, I receive 30 emails an hour, averaging 1 every two minutes, a meeting every hour, sometimes every half hour and lately every 15 minutes, lastly a constant flow of IMs. I’m exhausted just writing about it. Maybe your day is not as bad, but I bet it can still be filled with over communication.

This blog post compliments my tagline, "People plus Process plus Technology." All three elements must blend to be successful at anything, manager, project management, educator, builder, everything. We must learn to balance them. I put the elements in order of importance, so don’t let today’s communication technology override the most important element - People.

Here are few of my communication rules:
  • Emails – all cc’s do not require my response and may not even get read
  • IMs – you really need a response now or used for multi-tasking (listening in a meeting, but not participating)
    • I may, or may not, answer based on my role above
  • Meetings (Skype or live) – require an agenda to determine priority and/or attendance
  • Phone – if someone calls me, it is definitely a priority (and a preference)
Roll all these communication rules into one theme – FOCUS

Only a Super Human can satisfy every communication received, during the day.

Now, a message to management – consolidate information.
  • Plan to send out your communication once a day, at a regular time would be best,  every morning or end of day even better to cover routine items, like process
  • Advise your reports to prioritize their communications
  • Assign specific areas of expertise to qualified associate(s) to reduce irrelevant communications to everyone (focus your team)

In the long term, productivity will increase. I promise.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Management's Role and The Dreaded Performance Review

Management’s Role

In an earlier blog, I described the traits of supporting and non-supporting managers. Today’s blog repeats some of those supporting manager traits and augments them to further define management’s role in providing their reporting associates the necessities to succeed.
  • Disseminate company goals and objectives
  • Provide the tools to execute above
  • Mentor for growth
  • Enforce training:
    • Basic – business writing, presentation skills, communication, process. as needed
    • Advanced – career specific education
  • Exemplify and subject associate accountability
  • Motivate

The Dreaded Annual Performance Review

Everyone dreads writing evaluations, including your self-evaluation. Unfortunately, it is a requirement by most companies. The goal is to provide performance feedback and a guide for future improvement per the bullets listed above. But we all know from a company perspective, it’s to satisfy HR’s legal reasons in order to promote or dismiss an employee. From an associates’ perspective, they just want to know if they’re going to get a raise and how much.

Performance reviews necessity is not under debate, in the blog post. It is more about what the review contains. Typically, reviews solely describe accomplishments related to associate's job description/responsibilities and/or level of competence. If we interject the Manager’s roles listed, I believe they should contain the associates’ strengths and capabilities, not just related to their job description, but to any area that can benefit the company. People possess variegated skills that include their current function, but many people can provide far more. A good manager will observe, obtain, discuss these additional skills and provide an avenue for the associate to exploit them. It is possible for these discovered existing associate attributes can be used in their current position or promoted to a new position. The associate gains the most valued trait – recognition, and eventually growth. The company wins by subscribing to my mantra, "if the associate grows, the company grows."

Now let’s talk about money. How do you determine the appropriate pay increase? Managers receive their allowable associate awards in two manners: 1) department lump sum to be distributed as the manager sees fit; 2) a percent allocated across all associates. Recently, the later has been between one and three percent. I don’t believe in a 1% raise. A 1% raise is gratuitous. Even 3% is an insult to a high performing associate.

My review approach – if an associate is preforming their job according to their job description, they are paid their standard wage. They have not increased their net worth to the company by just performing their established job responsibilities. Therefore, I see no purpose to increase they wage (the only exception is in a high inflationary economy, so they at least break even to the cost of living (I’m not cruel)). Now, take the complacent associate’s or associates’ allocated increase (say 1%) and add it to a high performer’s increase (4% or more). A high performer is someone going above and beyond their job description and performing the newly revealed additional skill sets. This tactic provides motivation to both the standard performer as an incentive to show more initiative and the exceptional performer, by being rewarded and encouraged to continue at a higher level.

Hopefully, this blog post will provide some direction for manager’s roles and where everybody gains a more relevant performance review.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 The Year of Humanity

During my Holiday time, I caught up on some reading and spent time with family and friends. These two events of reading and visits one theme, which my last two blogs covered, was prevalent – humanity. Not once did I read or hear the words "disruptive" or "game-changer." Yet I saw several television commercials using these words. If people don’t really talk this way, why are they so common in the workplace and marketing? As readers of my blog know, buzzwords are one of my pet peeves. 

Truthfully, if I hear the words "game-changer" one more time, I will throw up. "Disruptive" on the other hand, is a very accurate definition of 21st Century marketing. I find all marketing disruptive, from the constant borage of spam emails and social media ‘sponsored" ads in the post feeds. Regarding television, thank God for DVR, the mute button, Amazon Video and Netflix. My ADD rarely lets me finish a broadcast show, as the last 15 minutes of the show are more commercials than content.

If you’re still reading this post, I admit, buzzwords have existed in all decades and generations, probably for millennia. We just have more media channels to inundate our receptors. Thank the Lord we don’t talk to each other personally or in the workplace with colleagues using them.

Let’s make 2019 about people wherever you interact, with humanity, and not let the business world dictate your vocabulary.

Happy New Year,

Jack

Thursday, November 29, 2018

People - Part II

People - Part II

As my head spins about all the productivity and measurement programs available to all organizations, listed below, there is one element required in all of them - People.
  • Lean
  • Kaizen
  • Six Sigma
  • ISO
  • Scrum
  • Agile
  • Waterfall
  • KPI
  • Plethora of smaller metric tools
I have worked with startups, small and medium size businesses (SME), and large corporate internal departments and not one of them can exist, improve, or grow without people. Yes, you can use software to measure productivity, output, KPIs, etc., but a person needs to interpret and make business decisions based on the data.

True confession; I love the show The Profit. Marcus Lemonis displays personal strengths and weakness in helping businesses survive, aka humanity. Spoiler Alert: here is the theme prevalent in most episodes - weak and/or change resistant leadership, lack of basic business financial acumen, and most importantly, people skills.


The purpose of this blog post is to repeat my personal business axiom, "If the people grow, the company will grow." Invest in your people, which can be as simple as listening to them. You may not need any of the programs listed above.