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March 3, 2011, Sponsored by RMC Project Management, Inc.

From the Editor

Coaching and management are supposed to be participation sports -- at least two players involved, and full engagement by all parties. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Letting your team members flounder without feedback may make it easier to get through the rest of your to-do stack, but it risks their performance -- and eventually the performance of the organization. Likewise, managers and employees who don't respond to feedback or actively pursue it risk missing out on major opportunities to help their projects, their companies, and ultimately their careers.

This week, columnist Kent McDonald shares an amazing tale of leadership out to lunch, and the consequences for the project as well as the project manager. When we picked our jaws up off the floor, we thought it was a good reminder to talk about the responsibility of all parties to the project to seek, give, and listen to feedback -- on our own performance, on our products, and even on the worth of the project itself.

Featured Article

Is Your Project AWOL (Active Without Leadership)?
by Kent McDonald

Kent McDonald I recently caught up with a friend of mine who I had not talked to in quite a while. While we were catching up, he told me that he had recently changed jobs and that while he really liked his new one, the switch was not his choice. I asked him what happened, and he proceeded to tell me quite a tale of the impact of leadership (or its lack) on a project and a team.

My friend had been working on a project to deliver new functionality for his former employer's customer service system. The new functionality had been a big selling point for a couple of new customers that were scheduled to implement the software in the fourth quarter of last year. My friend’s team had worked out a realistic plan to deliver the new update a couple of weeks before the scheduled implementation date.

Two months before the scheduled delivery date, two of the functionality team's most experienced team members were reassigned to work on revising the company's CRM product, which had been losing market share in a shrinking market. My friend pointed out to his manager that losing access to those two team members and their skills would set back the project by about two months. As a result, the new functionality promised to their customers would not be available until a month and a half after the scheduled implementation date. His manager's response was the equivalent of a shrug: her boss said the other project was a higher priority and there wasn’t much she could do.

What would you do in the same situation? Find out what this PM did, and the ramifications »

Site Highlights

You Want it When??? - Project Alternatives Tradeoff TablePREMIUM
Is your project stuck with a seemingly impossible trade-off decision? Use this table to organize and compare the alternatives so you can find a clear path that balances project needs against project realities. In a single page, you can summarize the possibilities and the impacts of different choices, then lead your team in a discussion to choose the best option for your situation. It's also a great tool for explaining the options and impacts to executives in order to solicit support for key decisions or additional resources.

Pick a Project, Any Project… - Setting Strategic Project Selection Criteria and Project Prioritization WorksheetPREMIUM
Does this project really deserve to exist? Part of being a business-savvy project manager is having the courage to question the assumption that a project -- even a long-standing project -- should be completed simply by virtue of executive fiat. Part of being a business-savvy executive is continually examining that question for every project in the portfolio; as the project environment changes, so should priorities. This guideline, along with the companion worksheet, helps organizations clarify the goals and objectives that a project should support before consuming valuable resources -- yours or anyone else's.

Dancing with the Tsars - Leading With PowerMEMBER
Organizations are political by their very nature, so effective project managers will identify their sources of power and become politically sensitive. This paper by Randy Englund discusses the elements of a political plan for savvy project managers, and shares an approach, examples, and insights that turn potential victim scenarios into win-win political victories. Plus, it makes for interesting reading about jungle animals.

Let's Work This Out Together - Coaching Check-In Calendar and WorksheetSPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until March 17!
Providing feedback and coaching on a "sub-optimal" choice by a team member can be uncomfortable, but we owe it to them, and to our organization, to be leader-ly -- to go beyond criticism and coach to better performance. Constructive conversations are good; ongoing constructive coaching is great. Of course, scheduling all this and staying on top of it for several project managers in a busy environment can be challenging, so we've provided this template to help. The Calendar provides a table view of projects and their key upcoming milestones, as well as notes on possible areas of discussion or concern. The Worksheet provides a format for keeping track of key project status, issues, and items of conversation. Stay proactive with your PMs, without tanking your own task list.
We Like You! We Really Like You! - Project Performance Appraisal ProcessMEMBER
If you're getting feedback you need and appreciate from your manager(s), rejoice! Then pass the favor along to your team members by making sure they're getting constructive feedback and appreciation too. This guideline outlines a process for incorporating simple, low-key, and constructive project feedback into the regular appraisal process. Your team members deserve to get credit for the project work they're doing, and this one-page form can help you make sure that happens.

Premium How-To Course

NEWLeadership from Every Seat at the Project TablePREMIUM
Michael Aucoin, President of Leading Edge Management
1 Category-3 PDU

Michael Aucoin A team is a fabric, and each person's contribution adds to its overall strength. As a proactive project leader, you want to get your team members working together to address issues on their own initiative, instead of waiting for someone else to step up and take the lead. You want to support the development of your team members as well as your project's deliverables. You want an energized project environment, with team members who take responsibility for keeping relationships positive and effective. You want leadership from every seat at the table. 1 PDU

Project Practitioner Blogs

Ed Reynolds implores readers to Manage Your Communications to save yourself time and heartache.

Randy Englund reminds us that even if we're not "in sales" we're still selling something -- our value and experience, our projects, our schedules -- so why not polish those sales skills?

Morley Selver clears up some of the alphabet soup and responsibility confusion around Project Procurement.

Margaret de Haan uses a handful of marbles and a balance scale to Cut those bugs in half! (The trick? Start in the middle.)

Alfonso Bucero promotes The Priceless Quality of Enthusiasm for achieving your goals, professional or personal. What are you waiting for?

Where's ProjectConnections?

Morley Selver will present the Fundamentals of Project Management May 4-6 in Calgary, Canada. For more information and to register, see http://www.peice.com/eventdetails.aspx?event=106489.

Kent McDonald will speak at Software Development Conference (SDC) 2011. SDC is being held at Wellington, New Zealand March 21 - 22, 2011 and Sydney, Australia March 24 - 25, 2011. At both locations, Kent will present Strategically Speaking: Why Are We Doing This Again? and Is It Worth It? Using a Business Value Model to Guide Decisions.

Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing

Want your team members to have their own access to templates and how-to resources for their project work? Need to share documents and deliverables beyond your project team? We make it easier with affordable corporate subscriptions and licensing. Detailed information regarding corporate options is available online. Give your whole team, or even the entire organization, cost-effective access to our comprehensive online library of resources. You already know how helpful it's been for you. Now it's time to share with everyone else. Find out more »

Not sure if corporate terms apply to you? Check out our licensing terms at the top of our Terms of Service page, in refreshingly ordinary, everyday English.


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