"Successful people are simply those with successful habits," said Brian Tracy, a popular motivational speaker. A lot of highly productive people reveal that it's not rocket science behind their performance, rather, it's a benefit they reap from a set of small, yet powerful habits that help them day-to-day. In addition to personal efficiency, a high priority for a project manager is to help his team build the right productivity habits so that everyone reaches the best of their potential. I’ve already covered certain aspects of this topic in my previous posts, but now I invite you all to take an in-depth look. Join me at the PMI Global Congress in New Orleans on October 29 at my session titled "Forming new productivity habits in project teams: theory and practice."
When I spoke about remote collaboration at a July dinner meeting of the PMI Silicon Valley Chapter, one of the attendees raised a good point. Telling about his experience of managing diverse international teams, he highlighted how important it is to learn something about the employees’ habits and interests outside of the office. For example, he has always been curious about different national holidays and their meaning. This brought him a better understanding of his team members’ cultural background, and it inspired them as well to look deeper into US traditions. But more than that, this knowledge gained him more perspective on their work styles as a manager. For example, he noticed a correlation between people’s performance and the diet that particular holidays could impose on them. For a good leader, every small detail matters in order to fine tune teamwork in the best possible way. Such information can be valuable and important when you’re planning your project and allocating the workload. In what other ways can such “informal” information help at work and also support in distributed teams?
"Failing to plan is planning to fail," - some sources attribute this saying to Winston Churchill, while others refer to Benjamin Franklin, or Alan Lakein, author on time management. Whoever the author really was, his succinct wisdom could help many project managers avoid costly mistakes. It seems that there are many project teams who suffer from inaccurate plans and their consequences. In fact, this challenge ranked as no.3 in the list of the biggest productivity killers, according to our recent survey. In this post, I'll observe some ways to keep your team safe from this threat and make sure your project's timeline is accurate.
In the previous post, we discussed an essential soft skill for project managers - recognizing and beating productivity killers within your team. We started with ways to deal with unproductive interruptions, which almost 41% people see as the no.1 enemy for their work performance. Now, let’s move on to the productivity battle against procrastination, the second most dangerous efficiency killer according to our recent survey.
Any habit, be it a good or a bad one, largely depends on the personality of the individual. For example, some people are naturally less organized than others and it's harder for them to stay on track. According to Dr. Piers Steel, who can be referenced as a procrastination researcher, 95% of people admit that they procrastinate occasionally, and for as many as 20% this is a chronic problem. Let's take a look at several common reasons why people procrastinate, regardless of differences in work styles, and how to deal with this problem within your team.
Based on your experience, what soft skills do you think a successful project manager should possess? Some aspects that are frequently emphasized within our industry are leadership, communication, problem solving, mentoring, and more. I completely agree with the high importance of these skills, but I would name one more that deserves to be in the top 5: recognizing and beating productivity threats within your team. It’s equally important whether you’re leading just three employees, or managing a large global team spread across several continents. In either situation, a project manager needs to spot the threat to the team’s efficiency as early as possible, before it affects more people, and be lightning-fast in addressing the problem. Different teams have different challenges, so it’s hardly possible to outline a one-size-fits-all action plan to handling them. But let’s take a look at the ways to fight the productivity hindrances that employees find the most dangerous: interruptions, procrastination and inaccurate plans.
Meet-ups with fellow project managers keep bringing up thought-provoking discussions and interesting ideas on how to maximize the efficiency of project teams. This time, I want to share some notes from the February dinner meeting of the PMI LA Chapter. After my presentation that focused on the ways of making distributed teams efficient, one of the most interesting questions that I heard from the audience was how to introduce a team to a granular work breakdown.
No matter how talented and experienced your remote worker is, it might still be unproductive to assign him a huge, month-long task. There’s always some risk in thinking that he’ll do just fine figuring it out all on his own. This way, you severely limit your visibility into the work progress, and if the course goes wrong, you might discover it too late to clear things up. When you can’t discuss things with some of the team members directly and frequently, having more granular assignments might be a helpful tactic and make life easier for both parties. So how exactly do you make it work?
After the short holiday break, the new year quickly gained momentum. The first event on my 2013 speaking calendar was the dinner meeting at PMI Dallas Chapter. The topic of remote collaboration and its efficiency brought up a great discussion. The engagement of the audience is a clear sign of how many project managers face the challenge of dealing with mobile workforce today. And the trend will only expand: as Wrike’s survey revealed, every fourth worker foresees his or her office going virtual in the near future. Of the numerous post-presentation questions, there were a couple that were especially interesting, and I’d like to share some takeaway notes with you.
Collaboration, collective intelligence, social business and innovation are some of the hottest topics of this blog. And how much hotter does it get, if they get combined? You can check that out for yourself by attending the upcoming E2 Innovate Conference in Santa Clara, CA. On November 14, I will be speaking about open innovation and the benefits a social enterprise can reap through applying this model. My co-presenter is Damon Gragg, global project manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific. He has a lot to share on how open innovation helps his company be the global leader in scientific and healthcare equipment.
Some great news that I’m thrilled to share with you: on October 21, I am going to speak at PMI Global Congress North America, which will be held in Vancouver this year. The presentation is titled “The future of remote teams: How to fine-tune virtual collaboration?” With the ongoing expansion of the distributed workforce, this topic seems to be gaining even more importance among fellow project managers. The first part of the speech will cover the most interesting findings of a survey recently conducted by Wrike with 1,000 respondents (how many people work remotely, how this compares to their work style 2-3 years ago, what they value the most about telecommuting, where they see this trend going, etc.) For instance, the vast majority of surveyed people believe that a fully virtual office will be a reality in the future. Later, the presentation will focus on efficiency tips for managers of virtual teams, based on my own experience of working with globally dispersed employees.
If you haven’t planned a trip to Vancouver yet, it is worth consideration! I’m just as eager to hear the other presentations as I am to give my own. Speaking of the event agenda: this is one of the things that we recently discussed with Paula Jayne White, PMI’s Director, Professional Development. Read our full conversation to find out about the focus of the upcoming event and discover some lessons that such a huge project like PMI Congress can teach.
This month, a very interesting book that I anticipated was released: "The Plugged-in Manger: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology and Organization to Thrive" by professor Terri Griffith, a seasoned management and technology expert. Terri describes a game-changing approach to management that is based on the concept of being plugged into each one of the organizational dimensions - people, technology and organizational processes - simultaneously. Oftentimes, managers underemphasize one of the components - say, they address the people and organizational processes, but overlook the technological dimension. Or conversely, some consider technology to be a lifesaver per se. The balance of people, technology and process is something that I think is really important for any organization, and I often referred to this triangle in my previous posts. So it was a pleasure for me to meet Terri and discuss this topic, as well as find out more about her new book. Naturally, our conversation went way beyond defining who exactly a "plugged-in manager" is, as we proceeded to talk about the role technology plays in modern business. To know more about the concept of a plugged-in manager, the best ways to leverage technology and to discover some curious examples from Terri's experience, as well as mine, I invite you to listen to the podcast with our conversation.
Andrew Filev is an experienced project manager and a successful entrepreneur. He has been
managing software teams since 2001 with the help of new-generation collaboration and
management applications. The Project Management 2.0 blog reflects his views on changes going
on in contemporary project management, thanks to the influence of collaborative web-based
technologies. More >>