Project Management

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Project Management: Giving Everyone a Seat at the Table

To create a new service, product or result, your team must meet specific goals and success criteria at a specified time. This will include the basics of project management: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team.

Although there is the thought process that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, this isn’t always the case when you are taking on a new project. Getting help from employees of all levels can bring a fresh perspective to the task at hand, breathing new life into processes and how to implement them.

Avoid Micromanaging

Giving up control over aspects of the work your company produces is one of the most healthy things you can do as a manager. Through fear that certain tasks will not be done to your standard or a lack of trust in the ability of your employees, this style of project management can really stifle your team and the potential success of each project.

To relinquish control or simply take a step back can be difficult if you are used to having your eye on every aspect of your business. However, by divvying out responsibility – maybe just part of it or a possibly all of it – you can focus your attention on the bigger picture or other matters that need your attention.

One of the key perks of project management is the ability to move from one project to another, keeping things fresh and exciting in the workplace. Creative people can flourish in this environment if given free reign to flex those creative muscles. By overseeing even the most simple of tasks, this enjoyment will eventually wane and die. New research by YouGov says that 80 percent of employees have experienced what they consider poor management, or a poor manager, at least once during their career, with 55 per cent actually quitting their job because of bad management.

The downsides of micromanagement include:-

  • Time Costs of Micromanagement – It can often take a manager less time to perform a task themselves than to hover over an employee to micromanage them completing the same task. This is an ineffective use of time for someone in a senior role, which could be better used developing systems and facilitating processes.
  • Stifling Creativity and Efficiency – A good thing to keep in mind is the reason you hired this person. They seemed capable, enthusiastic and you could see them improving your business in some way. Micromanagement essentially creates employees who all perform in exactly the same way – your way – so that nothing new and improved can reach the projects you manage. Given the breathing room to do so, employees can develop ways of working more efficiently on tasks they perform every day, potentially creating superior outcomes.
  • Reduced Job Satisfaction – This sort of atmosphere in a workplace creates unnecessary stress on the employer and the employee. Under this management style, employees become dissatisfied and less enthusiastic about the task at hand. They don’t feel empowered or trusted, so why would they stick around? Staff turnover is sure to be higher, causing you more hassle and eating in to valuable time.

Lean Management

A great project management style to adopt is lean management. One of the key takeaways from this method is to encourage shared responsibility and share leadership. As explained by Kanban software, lean management is about continuously improving work processes, purposes and people – discouraging the mentality of trying to hold control of work processes and ‘keeping the spotlight’.

A great idea can be born at any level within the company so giving everyone a ‘seat at the table’ is a positive step forward. After all, who would know the best way a job should be done other than the people who are actually doing the job every day?

The three basic ideas of lean management are:

1.    Delivering value from your customer’s perspective

2.    Eliminating waste (things that don’t bring value to the end product)

3.    Continuous improvement.

To succeed in creating value to the customer, lean management helps as a guide for building a stable organisation that evolves constantly and helps to identify actual problems, so you can remove them. Through lean you should be able to create a stable workflow based on customer demand, while also ensuring that every employee is involved in the process of improving.

The removal of micromanagement and the introduction of a tried and trusted workflow can turn your business around. With improved processes and happier, more fulfilled employees, you can bet on happier customers and increased business.

Finding the Right Business Training

If you are currently struggling in your small business I’m going to guess it’s because you have yet to find the right training.  Have you listened to every CD and read every training manual that you can get your hands on?  While training methods can be useful in regards to professional development they are not going to magically grow your business for you. It is by applying what you have learnt in the training in the workplace.

Take project management for instance, many organisations large and small struggle to consistently achieve project success yet the right project management training, when put into practise, has been proven to increase the proportion of successful projects. So little wonder that businesses are investing in professional project management courses for their employees, such as the APM Project Fundamentals course. And the same is true of finding the right training in other fields.

Why “On-The-Job” Training Doesn’t Work

I have been in this industry since 2001 and when I first started out my project manager told me everything he knew – that was my “on-the-job” training.

After 16 months and hundreds of working hours as a project manager I had achieved a total of ZERO successful projects. Senior execs in my organisation at the time thought that professional project training for their employees was just a waste of thousands of dollars.  They didn’t believe in the benefits of good communication skills and soft skills development. Why did I fail in those early months?  Simply put, the so-called “on-the-job” training that I received does not work!  Here’s why:

Good Managers are not Good Trainers

You can be very good at your job but that doesn’t mean you know how to properly train other employees. Training is a skill, even more so in a profession such as project management.

Our society has learned to shut down when anyone asks them to explain how they do their job. People are not comfortable talking about what they do either because they are worried it will show up gaps in their own knowledge or because they want to keep all their tricks-of-the-trade to themselves to protect their own job.

Why should a PM tell everything they know about APM, PMP, PRINCE2 or Agile project management to you?  They probably don’t trust you.

Why Professional Training Does Work

I like to refer to the above mentioned “on-the-job” training as the “old school” way to develop employees.  Yes, these techniques might have worked in the past but that was before the Internet and social media exploded.  As a society, we are becoming more and more social but it’s all online

If you want to build a thriving business you need to tap into the power of the internet.  Online training courses are a great way to learn how to properly grow a business.

It is critical to understand that professional training in project management, or indeed any other business field, is an investment in the future of your company.  You want to use the recognised methodologies (such as AMP, PMP, PRINCE2) to position yourself as a leader.  By doing this, you are going to begin to achieve greater project success for your business!

My advice to you is to ditch the old school ways and embrace the modern training techniques such as podcasts, training videos, online learning even if senior executives don’t have a clue about these methods.