15 Ground Rules for Project Team Management

March 9, 2010

People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue.  When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of  the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport.  You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.

Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned.    Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand.  Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.

  1. Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
  2. All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
  3. All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified.  If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
  4. Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
  5. All project team members have access to project plan and  project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
  6. All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
  7. All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
  8. All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
  9. Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
  10. Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager.  Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
  11. All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer).  If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
  12. All  meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
  13. All project team members understand the scope of work.  Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope.  Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
  14. All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
  15. Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.

What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!


Got 10 minute to speak with executive?

September 20, 2009

When you got 10 minutes or less to talk to your executive manager, you are well aware of the fact that you do not have enough time to give background of the issue or request and he/she isn’t interested in nitty-gritty detail.

Instead of giving your jargon loaded intellectual talk, paint the picture with words. Try to make it little striking with some recent example. Tell how it’s going to impact him, positively or negatively (again painting a picture with words), and what you need from him.

If you are telling about a problem, tell what solutions you propose.  Watch your gesture and prepare to answer the question with some facts; do not let it come to the point where you say ‘I will get back to you on this.”

Hope this helps and have a nice day ahead.


Life is bigger than that!

December 19, 2008

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.


Communication Skills for Managers – Learning From Barak Obama

November 17, 2008

I was looking into posts on Mr. Barak Obama’s communication style and how it contributed towards Obama’s victory.  Did Obama address people in all 4 categories of DiSC Model?  These categories are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness

Each person in his/her category wants to hear in a specific manner.  Some people need direct answer while others need some encouragement and hope and so on.  Please see the table at the end of the post and read more about DiSC Model

While doing so, I found very interesting Wall Street Journal video on the topic titled  “Learning From Obama’s Effective Communication Skills“.
 

To summarize, what project manager can do –

  1. giving good positive message
  2. clear and compelling tone
  3. giving substance along with style
  4. speaking with confidence and authority
  5. not in hurry to speak- patience
  6. pause between sentences: at least 3-4 seconds
  7. stress the right words
  8. relate to people and places
  9. make it simple to comprehend
  10. identify what is not right with other approach

Here is the table what people mainly like to hear/communicate around- 

Major Category

Like to hear words and actions around

Dominance

challenge, power, direct answer, authority, assertive, active

Influence

empathetic, people focused, receptiveness, accepting

Steadiness

stability, methodical, calm response, careful approach, thoughtful

Conscientiousness

logic focused, skeptical, clarity and quality, questioning

What are your findings?  What did you learn? Lets share.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.


Know what to emphasize

May 23, 2008

PM Tips – 1

What points we emphasize make a big difference in our communications. 

How do we do that? We got to know the expectation of the audience and what we want to convey.  Over emphasizing something or emphasizing meager issues may dilute the effect of conversation. We develop this skill with experience, paying attention to the audience and listening how others do it.

Certainly there are key things that you want to emphasize.  Make sure what you want to emphasize is really relevant and audience has some clue about what you are talking.

Notice how you emphasize? Do you find yourself keep repeating what you want to communicate in different phrases or you cleverly divert every topic discussed and then associate to what you have in mind? 

Observe if you are getting your point across.  Use some relevant example to explain your point.  Do not give frustrated look. You may have to do more work to refine your point.

Thank you for reading. Any suggestions or feedback?


How to Have Project Kick-off Meeting

January 13, 2008

Kick-off meeting is the first meeting of the project where you give all the team members good news that project is ‘go ahead’ from the sponsors and also set the tone of your project – is it going to be a success or a failure.  Many hours and days have gone into preparation before you have kick-off meeting. You have worked very hard and now have project charter and project plan is in your hands.Primarily kick-off meeting has following goals-

  1. energize the project team
  2. communicate project goals and expectations
  3. introduce team members and stake-holders
  4. highlight opportunities plus challenges and reiterate importance of project for organization
  5. provide information of processes, methodology, project plan, key milestones, etc.
  6. handout team’s contact phone numbers and email addresses
  7. present communication plan
  8. give time to attendees to ask questions and express views

I would do following extra things to make sure kick-off meeting sets positive tone –

  1. print the hand-out material a day before, also check for meeting room projector etc.
  2. have some project related posters and famous positive quotes posted on the wall
  3. invite one or two senior managment  people to talk about project’s importance
  4. have kick-off meeting around 9 AM (start of the day is better)
  5. block enough time for this meeting (time for refreshments, presentations, questions and answers)
  6. set date of kick-off  meeting and notify all members at-least a week ago
  7. offer light refreshments at the beginning of the kick-off meeting
  8. do not sit and just talk, look and feel energetic
  9. have your project plan and other documents (that you plan to hand out) reviewed well in advance by subject matter experts for accuracy
  10. make sure meeting conveys the message and people walk out with motivation

Are there other key things? I will be interested to hear.  Hope this helps and good luck with your kick-off meeting. 


Keeping in touch with direct reports?

December 11, 2007

Workplaces have transformed a lot in last few years from people working in same office building to team members scattered over different continents.  This poses some benefits and challenges.  As we all know that we are all connected via communication and our communication skills and capabilities play a major role in our success.

Keeping the communication channel open and alive is the responsibility of the manager.  As a manager you just can not assume that if no one is complaining, all is well.  There are some employees who get chance to meet and talk to boss on performance review day.  I know there might be some employees who always say “everything is good” and prefer least interference as all the routine work is being done on time.

Does not matter what kind of work you are in, keeping in touch with your direct reports does the following –

  1.  Boosts the employee morale (you value the employee by calling or listening).

  2.  Employee feels connected with the organization/department.

  3.  Employee is encouraged to give and receive suggestion/feedback.

  4.  You can coach employee in the right direction as per his objectives.

  5.  Your objectives and expectations are clearly communicated and aligned.

  6.  You, employee and organization, all benefit from this interaction.

  7.  You make the real difference by managing talent.

Employee is a talent.  We know that when we are managing talent in this innovation age, we got to ensure that talent thrives and stays innovative. 

Thank you for reading and have a great day.



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