You carry five balls in the air; all but one is made of glass. Glass is health, family, friends, spirituality. Rubber is career. Juggle well.
Be passionate but not emotional.
Master hard skills early in your career. Master soft skills to get ahead later in your career.
Know when to ask questions – sometimes in a group, sometimes one-on-one. There is big difference in perception and outcome in these two situations.
Always do what you say you will do.
Take lunch – you are not that important.
Read the cover of sports page every day (no joke!).
I was reading Canadian Business magazine‘s The Next Power Elite cover story and found these gems at the bottom of the page. I could not resist sharing with my readers. Credit for the content goes to August-September issue of Canadian Business.
I have been a shy networker before. I attended the meetings/conferences with many business cards in my pocket but I rarely exchanged business cards and developed any new contact. I had good questions in my mind to ask but hoped that someone else would ask. It wasn’t working out for me.
After reading many books, studying other successful people and learning from some of my friends – I found out where I was failing. I was mainly staying in the group of people I knew. I had objective to gain from the event but not to contribute something in some way. I hoped someone else will show interest in me and will strike conversation and only phrase I used to initiate conversation was, “How are you today?”. I got rid of shyness, gain confidence and equipped with knowledge by knowing that we all have unique styles of interaction and capabilities. Asking question or solution proposed to clarify any issue will not only help me but many others. We all benefit from each other thru interaction. Now, one of my friend says, if I am not working then I am networking. I guess, its good compliment!
It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. – Anonymous
Networking is the must-have capability for any professional these days. We all need good networking skills and should take advantage of connections we develop at any professional symposium or meeting. Networking is absolutely the primary technique that is used to find new job opportunities, career transition or career advancement. While we all attend various meeting, active on LinkedIn (and social media) and attend seminars with networking as one of the objectives; but many times it is not accomplished that well.
Here are 7 points to keep in mind for effective networking at any event –
Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”. Show interest in others and listen.
Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.
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.
Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
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.
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.
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.
All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
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?
I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles. I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience.
Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well. Be a brand that people want to associate with.
Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow; guide them if they fit somewhere else.
Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
Look after the welfare of your employees– the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need. Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
Keep everyone well informed – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume – aks and tell.
Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how; goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.
“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps
Thanks for reading and welcome your input. Have a great day.
Everywhere we turn our focus to, we hear something negative and how leadership should come forward. Leadership at every level is already faced with some difficult choices. It is of paramount importance that when leaders make decisions to change the course, decisions should not have been plagued by personal ego and due to insecurity.
As John C Maxwell says that Ego and Insecurity are the two greatest landmines of leadership; think about any world leader and if he stepped on these landmines or not. Do you want to? After a long time when we reflect on the decisions we make today should be matter of proud.
As a leader, we get a chance to serve our people, I mean serve genuinely. In these times how we act will shape our organizations and societies. Lets take the right actions while we overcome the short-term issues, we keep long term objectives in our minds.
Your boss approaches you and tells that workplan is very good but customer wants to know how can we deliver the project sooner than promised? Now you have to come up with a new workplan or make some adjustments based on new findings. You put your thoughts together and go on to make changes/update and deliver the final document with required changes.
And then your boss asks, why this task is due this particular day and why are we taking this long to complete, etc., etc…
You might have answers for most of the questions your boss has asked but it is of prime importance that you document all the assumptions you made while planning, does not matter how small or evident those assumptions are.
I would capture following –
why are you making these changes or what is the objective and if these objectives are aligned with customer expectations;
what are high-level or global assumptions for the plan being put in place (standardized assumptions);
why making change to time/scope/cost;
what are risks that can derail the work;
what are the opportunities that you are counting on;
who are the critical resources you have based your work on;
what exceptions from standard process did you make;
what compromises are built into the plan;
what is the impact on existing process (if any);
for budget tail of it : dollars spent per month; and
what are the key milestones.
I hope these are the basic questions that we should be able to answer from a Project Management perspective when talking about assumptions. Let me know what your thoughts are and what else could be added to the list?
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-
Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance. Life is bigger than that!
Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say. Give credit where deserved.
Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor. It may be wise to stay quiet.
If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
Help others grow and learn. Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
Take vacation or take time out. Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
Try to listen. Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
Dress according to your job profile, at least.
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.