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Skills & Personal Development

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A Quick Guide to Client Communication Skills
Collaboration 10 min read

A Quick Guide to Client Communication Skills

Client communication skills are crucial for delivering impressive work and retaining your best clients. Here’s what you need to know to communicate effectively.

7 Tips to Nail Your Annual Review
Leadership 3 min read

7 Tips to Nail Your Annual Review

We asked our faithful Wrike users for their own tips on how to nail your annual review. Some tips are for managers, other tips are for employees. See what they have to say, and apply what seems wise in order to get through your annual review with minimal stress. Annual Review Tips for Managers We asked: "As a manager, how do you make sure you run a fair, efficient, and effective process?" Managers from various industries gave us their best tips to make sure everyone comes out of the review process feeling like they had a positive experience. 1. Be fair and consistent "Make sure you are reviewing everyone on appropriate standards." — Matt Graf "Have appropriate and fair measures in place." — Karien Bredenkamp 2. Communicate the process and goals  "Set clear and objective goals." — Nick Stelmazuk "Daily communication with everyone and planning ahead." — Sammy 3. Have tough conversations early on "Daily communication about tasks, even if they're conversations you don't want to have (i.e. when your employee isn't performing)." — Mitchell Moss Annual Review Tips for Employees We asked: "As an employee, what are some things you do to make sure you nail your annual review?" Employees from around the globe shared tips on everything from dress code to how to prepare so you rock your annual review meeting. Decide which tips will work best for you. 1. Prepare in advance "Prepare early, track goals throughout the year." — Nick Stelmazuk "Spend enough time preparing - don't try to 'wing it.'" — Karien Bredenkamp 2. Dress for the occasion "Look snappy, and be honest." — Tory Dirk Trone 3. Show proof of results, don't just tell  "Be honest about my standing of where I am with my projects, and what I have completed and how." — Matthew Miller "Give a detailed and honest description of how I've accomplished the things I worked on, and how I've completed the tasks that have been assigned to me. Also, I track the time I spend on each task so I can have some physical proof of my work." — Ivana Reyes "I make sure that I quantify my job with my tasks in Wrike." — Christina Anstett 4. Set new goals for the next year "Review or renew my short/medium/long-term goals; Put a wish list of things I'd like; Have questions for how I can improve." — Mitchell Moss What tips can you share? Not every piece of advice on this list will be applicable for you, but hopefully you've found something useful to nudge you in the right direction. Help out your peers by sharing your annual review best practices in the comments below. Read Next: Don't Become a Project Manager from Hell!

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Collaboration 7 min read

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Discover how imposter syndrome affects well-being and how to address it. Learn how to overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace with these tips and insights.

Why is Project Management an Important Skill for Managers?
Leadership 10 min read

Why is Project Management an Important Skill for Managers?

What does it take to be a great manager? What skills do you need to be an effective leader? We break down the most important competencies you need to be an effective manager and the project management skills you need to lead your team to success.

How to Develop the Essential Skills to Be a Project Manager
Project Management 10 min read

How to Develop the Essential Skills to Be a Project Manager

Interested in becoming an even better project manager? Of course you are. This post breaks down some of the most important technical and soft skills for project managers and provides some actionable advice for stepping up your game.

Using If Then Statements in Excel to Set the Conditions for Success
Project Management 3 min read

Using If Then Statements in Excel to Set the Conditions for Success

Maintaining spreadsheets is not the easiest or most effective method for managing a project. Still, should you find yourself relying on a workbook to track assigned tasks and overall team performance, it's important to learn how to do if then statements in Excel.

A Guide To Successful Idea Generation Techniques
Marketing 7 min read

A Guide To Successful Idea Generation Techniques

Try these proven idea generation techniques to create innovative and successful campaigns and concepts. Discover how to generate new ideas with Wrike.

48 Experts Share Their #1 Tip for New Project Managers
Project Management 10 min read

48 Experts Share Their #1 Tip for New Project Managers

In our LinkedIn Project Management 2.0 group (you can join us here!), we asked experienced project managers to divulge their #1 tip for newcomers to the field. Not surprisingly, these process fanatics shared a plethora of great tips to help newcomers succeed in this ever-changing area of work. Interested in what kind of advice they had to improve your project management processes and how to get a project manager job? Read through their project management advice below, and see what you can learn as you walk into your first, second, or even tenth PM role. "I think that all the important tips could be summarized with a metaphor: You should be like an Orchestra Director for your team, with a detailed project plan as score." — Jose Ignacio Bernaldo de Quiros Ochoa Everyone Agrees — Excellent Communication is the #1 Indicator of Success Understand the culture Communication is key, and much of that will be informal, so building your network and understanding culture and dynamics are key. Thomas J. Dickie, PMP Be accessible to learn more Always allow people to come to you. Be accessible and listen to what project team members will ask or comment all the time. The more you know, the better you are able to make decisions. Buy knowledge and sell solutions unless you want to pay for project deviations. Fábio Issao Watanabe Communicate to identify changes quickly I think that success depends on communication and focus on the goal. Good communication with the team identifies deviations in a timely manner. Good communication with customers can quickly identify changes in scope. Oscar Teran Keep detailed project notes to share Follow up on tasks and Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Keep detailed notes and make sure everyone on the team is aware of what is happening. Monteau (Montee) Outlaw Discuss challenges, roadblocks, & risks Make sure to be transparent within your core and your extended project team, as well towards your managers, owner, sponsor. Communicate roadblocks, challenges, and risks clearly and in advance for everyone to see. Know and accept: no one cares for, or is as committed to your project as much, as you are/must be. Janos Veres Listen to opinions from everyone, even if you reject them later Keep communication channels open for all stakeholders: the team, the sponsor, the customer, the end user, your boss, etc. I am not saying that you let yourself be manipulated by every party, just try to listen before making decisions. Hear every opinion, then make your route. Mehmet Degirmencioglu Respect every opinion as if it were your own Train communication, create empathy with your stakeholders. Respect and value everybody's opinions, even if you don't completely agree. João Rodrigues Challenge ideas to make them better You are hired to manage projects; your team is hired to be the technical expertise to deliver that project. Therefore, if they are telling you something, it's usually a good idea to take in what they're saying and, in some cases, challenge it. If you're not technical, ask for clarification on points you genuinely don't understand. You can also seek advice from colleagues who are more established as a technical project manager. That's normally enough for technical teams to make them think through their explanations, so they'll carry out an internal check to ensure their thinking is sound. Andrew Hudson Build rapport and trust with clients Build rapport with the client. Build trust and then never lose it. Under promise and over deliver. Plan and communicate. Marc Hammoud Don’t Pretend You Know Everything on Day One Always ask "that question" You may not have the experience needed to do things 100% correct the first time, so keep it real and allow people to give you suggestions. My #1 suggestion to newbies is: Always ask "that question". Finding a balance between asking questions or following up offline is a talent you will learn over time, but for now, don't be shy. You might harm your own project by not speaking up until it becomes a show stopper near implementation time. Speak up and you will find your team is truly on your side! John Skowronski, PMI-ACP, PMP Don't isolate your team with overconfidence Do not think you know everything. I've seen too many project managers take a hard line and push things through because they think they know best. That breeds resentment in the project team. I've seen project managers exert their supposed technical or subject authority on a project, only for that project to ultimately remove those additions at a later and more expensive stage. Andrew Hudson Learn from every experience You don't have to know everything about everything — it's ok to ask questions and learn from each experience. Ann Lynne Dodson To Be the Best, Hone Your Leadership & Management Skills Make sure you motivate and lead your team Soft skills are very important. The people involved make the difference between success and failure. You can have knowledge and methods, but you need skills to motivate and lead. Maarten Verreck Manage your people, not just your documentation Following the PM process and keeping up with all the communication tools like the risk log, issue log, schedule, and deliverables should all take a back seat to leading your team. For years I prided myself in being really good at the documentation side of project management, but it never really mattered that much. The most important skill a project manager must master is Leadership! Larry Sparkman Build a bridge for two-way trust Trust is the biggest thing for me, because if I don't trust my technical team then I'm inherently suspicious of them and vice versa. Building a relationship of trust, and therefore openness, is crucial if you are to deliver multiple successful projects. Andrew Hudson Stay flexible to take on every challenge Keep your knowledge constantly updated, trying to develop new capabilities and remaining flexible in terms of project management methodologies to use, etc. Things can change very rapidly in this field, and as the leader of your team, flexibility and a listening ear are most important to manage the risks and change. Nirmal Singh Delegate wisely and lead by example Learn what you can delegate. Learn who you can delegate to. Lead by example. Work harder than anyone else. Treat everyone you touch with respect and kindness. Lori Galster Train your people to be future leaders It should always be remembered that delegation is not purely about sharing workload. Also it gives the team member a sense of ownership and liability and allows them to learn... Today's team member can be tomorrow's PM. Andy Nelson, AMBCS, P2 Cert Practitioner Think outside the box The key for successful PM is communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Working smarter and offering solutions. Thinking outside the box and strategically looking at the bigger picture. Kassim Toorawa Protect your team You "Protect" the project team, they do the rest. Onur Karabulut And don't forget to proactively celebrate success! The most important part: celebrate with your team who made it possible! Puneet Gulati, MSP, PMP, ITIL v3 Be the Person Who Keeps Work Organized & Meetings Focused Use templates to stay organized Try to stay as organized as you can, use templates and other tools provided by PMI (you can find them on PMI's website). Bhawna Mundotia, PMP Document! Document! Document! Always keep a track record of the work being done. Pietro Cecere Step up and capture ideas during meetings If you are in a meeting that needs focus because people are talking in circles, step up to the white board or large note pad and start scribing their ideas, requirements, comments, issues, etc. — preferably into actionable categories. Do not speak! Just scribe. If they start to focus on what you are writing, then you can ask them if they want to identify owners for each actionable item. Jerry B. Fisher Learn What Inspires Your New Team, Then Achieve Success Together Know the working culture before you introduce change First understand the work/culture/situation, and then make your moves/changes. PMs always want to do something new and different based on their experiences, which is a good thing, but do it smartly. You can't just jump in and start making changes to the system without understanding it; every company has their own limitations, constraints, and culture. Make changes in such a way that they get absorbed in the right attitude. Santosh Maurya Understand everyone's motivations Learn that project management can be as much about politics as handling projects. Remember that not everyone working on the project is actually for the project. Learn the motivations and intentions of not just your team, but also upwards to the stakeholders and business users. Andy Nelson, AMBCS, P2 Cert Practitioner Build a culture of sharing and innovation to build a strong team Foster a culture where everyone's ideas are heard to allow more innovation to take place. The added bonus is that the project team itself becomes a lot stronger — team members are far more open to suggesting and working through ideas if they know they'll be heard, rather than thinking they'll be shouted down all the time. Andrew Hudson Know the Limitations of Your Project Team — And Yourself Don't forget the human The methodologies are great if well-used, but they won't work if you do not remember that you are working with other people. Human responses are not always logical or predictable. Tiago Prado Know your team's strengths Understand the skill set & mind set of the people that you're going to handle in your team. Prabhu M Leave egos behind Be aware of strengths and limitations in your team and, more importantly, yourself. There is no room for egos. Louie Turcotte, Jr Find what sets you apart Determine your specialization and go for it. The best thing you can do is to decide what sets you apart and make that shine. Remember you are turning concepts into realities and it takes creativity to get you there. Develop thick skin and never fall in love with your first draft, no matter what it is. James L Thompson, PMP, CSM, Executive MBA, ITIL Ask Questions to Understand Current Processes, & Keep Them Simple Ask follow-up questions When someone makes a suggestion, I like to follow up with background questions: When and under what circumstances have you implemented that in the past? Why was that approach successful? What made it more efficient, cost effective, etc.? Then I broaden my scope of understanding. Lori Galster Don't make mountains out of molehills DON'T make a huge mind-numbing deal out of the project. Newbies are generally so eager to implement their knowledge or are so psyched up about being in the shoes of a PM, they generally end up overcomplicating simple things. I have seen "accidental" project managers perform better than those who come to the job armed with the whole pedigree of PM tools, techniques, and strategies. It's better to keep work simple and streamlined so that attention can be devoted to planning, actual implementation, and overall scope and quality control, instead of waiting for the heavens to open up and rain down! Trina Moitra Make progress the priority  Do not always look at things from a process perspective. Governance is important, but when it impedes progress then there is an issue. Dave Regan Clarify Everyone's Roles & Responsibilities on Every Project Understand your own role first Clearly understand your role and responsibilities and your delegated authority. This will depend on the type of organization you're operating under. Also understand your key stakeholders and their level of influence. Kassim Toorawa Analyze project heartbeats daily I suggest accidental managers follow the RACI model and analyze project heartbeats daily. R- Who is Responsible to do the work  A- Who is Accountable for final decisions and ultimate ownership  C- Who is Consulted before a decision or action is taken  I- Who is Informed that the decision or action has been taken  The RACI model is helpful to define/identify/clarify roles and responsibilities. Once you have those, match them up with processes. It's especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional processes. For example, an organization may have a person who performs the role of project manager, and may also perform the role of test manager. Hambirrao Patil Beware of role creep Watch for ROLE creep, which is similar to scope creep in a project. In role creep, your role as a PM might be under constant pressure — from academics, LinkedIn groups, co-workers, and especially those working above you. This is because there are so many forces at work around a substantial project, especially in a non-projectized organization where there is no discipline to comply with standardized and repeatable project management processes. There will be pressure to be innovative, be creative, and be an agent of change, and you will have managers asking you to list all your accomplishments. Your ultimate role is always to deliver what is in the WBS and project plan, use a designated process for scope change, risk monitoring, and issue management, and maintain good communication. Michael Ayres MS, PMP, CISSP, CSEP Make Sure You Have a Full Understanding of the Project Objectives, Assets, & Risks Know the project inside out Understand the project — so the planning, objectives, results that the project wants to achieve, and of course know the monitoring plan: what are the indicators, its tools, etc. Marta Acero Set the goals first Establish the goal and objectives (SMART) of your new project. Once this is done well, I would immediately do the PESTEL analysis and build the SWOT analysis. Then, it's planning, communication, and organization. For your project setup plan, you can also use the What, When, Who, Which, Where, etc. model. Osvaldo Mirante, PhD Understand the project needs Having a clear understanding of both the functional and technical definition/needs of the project upfront, with stakeholder buy-in, is extremely important. Muqtader MBA Make sure the project achieves its original goal Focus on specified project objectives! Muqtader MBA Control the project scope Knowing your exact scope of work very well is the key to controlling the rest. Mohammad Hamdan, PMPⓇ Think about what can outside forces could affect your project — positively or negatively Look for organizational process assets that are available to you. Identify the environmental factors that will influence your projects and how they'll be delivered. Thomas J. Dickie, PMP Make work actionable Make sure everything is actionable and responsibilities are assigned and transparent. Henriette Ebbesen Laidlaw Allow time for multiple iterations Plan and drive project activities according to strategic guidelines. Allow the project team a few iterations over viable and plausibly valid alternative solutions. Never be afraid to ask the project owner for clarification or adjustment of target, timeline, resources, or scope. Janos Veres Don't forget to manage potential risks You need to understand the organization's culture to make a roadmap and deliver projects on time and within budget. You should also keep an eye on risks arising during the course of project implementation, with a risk mitigation plan in place. Puneet Gulati, MSP, PMP, ITIL v3 Get Buy-In From Stakeholders Early & Manage Their Expectations Along the Way Identify every stakeholder Identify all stakeholders and develop terms of references. This will align all roles of different individuals in the project and make it easier to relate with them. Lesiba Noah Konaite Sell the project to all necessary parties Involve as many as possible stakeholders at the beginning of a project to gain broader buy-in. Andries Venter, Inclusive Project Manager Hold 1-on-1 project feedback sessions Before kicking off the project, connect with all the key stakeholders in 1-on-1 sessions to get their input on the project, their goals, their level of support, etc. This will uncover hidden "gotchas" and misalignment that may come up later if you don't do this. Tom Treanor Make stakeholders believe in the goal, not just the budget Getting stakeholder buy-in on the outcome and benefit of completing the project is more important than stakeholder acceptance of the scope, schedule, and budget. If decision-makers believe in what the project will achieve, they will be more likely to accept changes to the scope and tolerances if you can show that it will lead to a better outcome. If all you've sold is a budget and a delivery date, you're doomed to failure. Chris Cox Continually manage expectations as the project goes on Manage the stakeholders' expectations within given limits. That would encompass all the necessary requirements such as deliverables, scope, etc. John Mpungu Don't Be Afraid of Failure, Learn From It Fail fast, recover faster Failure is an option. Fail fast so you can recover quickly and learn. Sreekumar Govindan Turn mistakes into learning opportunities Don't be afraid of mistakes — learn from them. They are the building blocks for future success in this challenging and dynamic profession! Susan Kirkpatrick, PMP, CSSBB Deliver what the business actually needs A high percentage of projects fail because they don't deliver what the business needs. Even when you have that nice 400-page requirements document that was signed off on, it does not mean everyone understands what is being delivered. Thomas J. Dickie, PMP Ultimate Success Comes From Careful Management, Not Just Careful Planning Manage the problem, not just the Gantt chart Reality drives the schedule, not the other way around. It's not about wrangling Gantt charts, it's about wrangling people and problems. James Radvan Plan to succeed & persevere Every day there is a chance that you will have your back to the wall. Plan to succeed. Coordinate your priorities, delegate to those in your team, and make the project work. Paul Alwood Keep your eye on the overall objectives No one on the business side cares about the Gantt chart or status reports or the PM deliverables. What they are looking for is the capabilities to achieve the business objectives your project will deliver. Thomas J. Dickie, PMP And Remember: Nothing Beats Hands-On Experience You can't fake experience Experience is the most valued ingredient of the perfect PM brew, and that can either come with the salt and pepper of years or from a very competent mentor. There is no way to fake experience. Trina Moitra Expose yourself to real-life situations early on Gain as much experience in project management as you can. Books, theory, and concepts are all fine, but real-life situations are much tougher. The more you face these situations, the smarter you become. There is no better way to learn project management than to expose yourself to real-life situations. Mangal Pandya Rely on your people skills, and push for the success at the end of the project Don't give up. A Project Manager position is not a rewarding job every day. You have to work really hard to get things done (especially in a Matrix environment), so you have to rely on your people skills a lot. (Keep those sharp!) In the end, you will persevere, and when the project finishes successfully, you will love that feeling of success. Bhawna Mundotia, PMP What advice can you share? Understanding the basics of how to start a project management business and how to manage project managers are necessary first steps to take. Have any additional information on how to improve your project management skills? Let's keep the conversation going here! Share your advice and thoughts in the comments below. Tell us what you'd add to this list, or expand upon a piece of advice that really resonated with you. *Note: Some of the above responses have been slightly modified for clarity, grammar, and length.

10 Free and Paid Online Resources for Learning Creative Skills
Marketing 5 min read

10 Free and Paid Online Resources for Learning Creative Skills

Whether you’re working as an advertising/marketing professional, freelancing in graphic design, or a hobbyist photographer, there's always something new you can learn in order to enhance your creative skill set. So instead of wasting time on social media or cat videos (my favorite), why not check out these recommended online resources that can help you learn new, creative skills? And sometimes, flexing your muscles in unfamiliar territory may be just the spark you need to give a little 'Oomph!' to your daily problem solving and creativity. Online Resources for Learning New Creative Skills Free resources 1. edX: It was tough deciding which of the three to include on this list: edX,  Coursera, or Khan Academy. edX won out because of its wider range of courses on Design, Art & Culture, and even Music Production. Courses are totally free, however they are not on-demand. Like a brick-and-mortar school, they have start and end dates and must be accomplished within the allotted time. 2. FutureLearn: Owned by The Open University, FutureLearn offers free courses in everything from business and law to literature, history, health, science, language, and of course, a lot of creative arts & media (e.g. storytelling, songwriting, fiction writing). Again, courses are not on-demand; they have set start and end dates. 3. Tuts+ Free Tutorials: In a sub-section of the larger Tuts+ website, they offers free (and short) tutorials on specific creative tasks under categories, such as coding, web design, photo/video, music/audio, motion graphics, and business. 4. Instructables: Ever wanted to make your own geeky Halloween costume or build a security camera from a 3-D printed body and a Raspberry Pi CPU? Instructables is where you'll find the detailed, photographed instructions to accomplish your unique do-it-yourself projects. Comes with a built-in quirky creative community to support your every project! 5. Smashing Magazine: A well-known online magazine for web developers and designers focusing on coding, design, mobile, graphics, UX, and Wordpress. Aside from niche articles tackling everything from web standards to gorgeous wallpapers, there is also an abundance of tutorials to help you accomplish step-by-step tasks. Paid resources 6. Udemy: Despite this being more of a general online learning resource, don't discount Udemy's huge bank of design, photography, and music courses. Every so often they even have site-wide promos that discount all courses to around $10. A good starting point for any education. 7. Lynda.com: A true holdover from before Web 2.0, Lynda is possibly the most well-known online tutorial website. Partly because it covers such a wide breadth of topics, from web development to design, from animation and video, to music and audio. They even have courses in business and education. You'll need to be a member to gain access, and membership starts at about $20/month. 8. CreativeLive: Dozens of creative classes segmented by interest: audio, crafts, art/design, photo/video, money/life. The beautiful thing about this site is that on-air classes can be enjoyed for FREE. But on-demand access to it will cost you anywhere from $20-$99, depending on course length and complexity. 9. Curious: Their name explains a lot. This is a site created so you can indulge your curiosity and learn a thing or two on a wide variety of topics. Under their free plan you can take a new free lesson everyday — choose from hundreds of courses broadcast over 10 channels that include crafts, music, photos, and more. But with a monthly or annual subscription, you get the whole shebang, including mobile access and an ad-free experience. 10. Treehouse: This resource is specifically for those who want to learn web design and web development, with courses centered around programming languages like PHP, Ruby, HTML, CSS, Wordpress, and even mobile app platforms. Basic plans begin at $29/month. What will you learn this month? Keep learning new skills and encourage the rest of your teammates to join you on the journey. It's a great way to add to your skill set as well as bring more expertise to your organization. For actionable strategies on growing your internal creative team into a world-class agency, please download our free eBook, available now.   Photo Credit: iVincent by JD Hancock on Flickr. Some rights reserved, changes made. 

The Guide to Making Better Decisions
Leadership 10 min read

The Guide to Making Better Decisions

Solid decision-making is one of the core pillars of effective leadership. Top strategies to uplevel your decision-making skills.

Top 3 Essential Technical Project Manager Skills
Project Management 7 min read

Top 3 Essential Technical Project Manager Skills

Technical project management is a growing field and a distinct subset of project management. Do you have the tools to keep pace with a world growing more digitized by the day? Learn the top three essential technical project manager skills you need to succeed as a TPM.

Why Are Habits Important for Productivity?
Productivity 3 min read

Why Are Habits Important for Productivity?

Productivity is simply a matter of choosing to work smart every day. Ask successful people their productivity secret and they’ll typically say it’s consistent daily habits. But what exactly are habits, and why are productive work habits so difficult to form? Our short Slideshare tackles these questions in 14 slides, sharing input from neuroscience, psychology, and business leadership experience. Key takeaways: Habits take up 45% of daily life. Habits are "autopilot" behaviors which save our energy for creative problem solving. 45% of these habitual actions are even done at the same location every day. It takes approximately 66 days to form a new habit. More details in the actual presentation below: Check out the "Productive Work Habits" presentation on Slideshare  And if you want to discover concrete tips for forming productive habits in your workplace, download our free eBook: 5 Strategies for Forming Team Productivity Habits.  

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