The Project Plan Blog

Listening Skills: Why You Have Two Ears and One Mouth

Do you know what one of the greatest gifts is that you can give your team members? To listen to them closely. The challenge is that listening takes time and doesn’t come naturally to many of us. I have an elderly friend who LOVES to talk. I mean, he REALLY LOVES to talk. He’ll go on and on about things that he did when he was young, his travels and exploits, and a host of other topics. It’s all very interesting and engaging…for at least the first dozen or so times. He does one thing that does drive me crazy, however. He’ll express interest in what you are thinking by asking you...

Going South on a Northbound Escalator

We have choices to make every day as project managers. Some choices are easy and some are more complicated. What can help us make those decisions? Look at the outcome of any choice you make and then follow the natural course of events. The following story definitely fits into the category of being awkward. By the way, I’ll deny this story if anyone comes to me and asks me what happened. I’ll simply look at them and tell them I don’t know what they’re talking about… About a month ago I was walking from the parking lot of the airport to the main terminal. As usual, the first park...

Time Out

Vince Lombardi is credited with the quote “we didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.” What a great quote! It highlights such a positive attitude and indicates that eventually, given enough time, Lombardi’s beloved Packers could have won every game. Think about how successful each of our projects would be if we didn’t have the nemesis of Time dogging us at every corner. The triple constraint of Time, Scope, and Cost would disappear. Gone would be the unforgiving triangle of these elements. When one side of the triangle moves, the other two have to move with it as well. Want...

4 Emails You Should Never Send

Email is ubiquitous in our work and personal lives. What ever did we do before it? It’s been a long time, but I do have some vague memories of what life used to be like before email. For one, I recollect making a lot more phone calls. In those days, we would step out for lunch, come back in about 45 minutes and as we passed the receptionist’s desk would look for our name on that black, slotted spinning thing that was the home for those little slips of paper titled, “While You Were Out.” The receptionist who took our calls would record the name, company, time, and the phone number of th...

My Project Manager Twin

Our perceptions concerning our own appearance and behavior are largely formed by the reactions and feedback of others, and how we think we should look and act in front of a group of people. We envision in our minds how others perceive us. We may think we come across as intelligent, witty, knowledgeable, credible, and a host of other positive qualities. But, do we really? Does the perception we have of ourselves mirror the perception of those around us? My company recently hired a new project manager. He came on board as one of my peers, so he and I worked for the same manager, attended many...

Making More Noise than Necessary

I travel a couple times a month. I used to hate traveling, but I’ve done it for so long now that I’ve figured out how to make it almost enjoyable. Dare I say, I almost look forward to hitting the road every now and then to meet with clients in new cities and locations. Up until a number of months ago, I noticed that a lot of people looked at me when I traveled. It was just a quick glance in my direction and then they would look away. I didn’t get the same kind of interested looks when I was in my own neighborhood or even city, so was never quite sure why, but I guess I got used to it....

3 Ways to Deal with the Project Antagonist

There are many different types of personalities that work on our projects. One of the most confounding is the person that just loves to stir the pot and cause trouble. As frustrating as this behavior is, there are three things you can do to make someone behave. If you come from a large family or know someone who comes from a large family, you’re familiar with what an antagonist is. The antagonist is the person that keeps picking, poking, and prodding at others for the sole purpose of getting a reaction. Different from a bully, they have no skin in the game, nor do they have a particular d...

Project Leadership in Crisis Situations

Recently, I was part of a volunteer construction project.  We were erecting a five thousand square foot building in just a matter of seven days. Hundreds of people were investing their time and resources in the project, and plenty of preliminary work had been done to the property and parking lot prior to the final push. To construct a building and be ready for final inspection in seven days is a remarkable feat in and of itself; if you also consider the fact that very few were construction professionals, it is amazing. Three primary volunteers ran the project. They called the shots, made d...

The Benefits of Putting Your Projects into Strategic Buckets

There’s a difference between activity and progress. You and your teams can be extremely busy, but what if you are busy working on the wrong projects?  If you are in the project weeds and could use a little motivation getting out, read why you should only work on projects that help support the strategy of your company. Projects have a way of becoming prolific. You start out with one project and that quickly gives way to, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we did this too?” Sure, but that means you need to start another project. So that’s what you do. You start another project, which qu...

Working Crazy Hours as a Project Manager

Project Managers rarely work 9 – 5 jobs. Those days are long gone. However, some predictability still exists, in that evenings and weekends are free to pursue other interests and spend time with friends and family. Every now and then your hours may get CRAZY with 70-80 hour work weeks or weeks of non-stop activity. Are there any benefits to working at that pace, and what can you do to make the most of those tough times? Back in the heyday of the IT craze, the demand for developers, programmers, DBAs, project managers and other technical resources was through the roof! I remember talking t...
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