Most companies introduce change through a project or a programme comprised of multiple projects. The need for good project management is obvious but I come across many companies experiencing difficulties in delivery. This is often because their project managers lack experience and simply do not know how to properly manage risks or are short on techniques to keep things on track.
Too often cost reduction means human resources are shared over-optimistically, assigned to achieve too much and, with tight scheduling, this invariably leads to over-utilisation. Such poorly managed people become resentful, stop delivering and become disenchanted usually resulting in them leaving the organisation.
Think about the costs such poor leadership incurs – this does not reduce costs, but creates more cost such as hiring a new employee to replace the one that is leaving, along with all the disruption to the teams and to any projects they are involved in plus the need to spend extra time on handover. How much is the loss of company related knowledge as it walks out of the door accounted for? In addition, there is the impact of their departure on all the established relationships which were built during their service with the company.
What a waste and all because somebody in senior management wanted to save a few dollars!
Cost reduction decisions need to consider the strategic goals of the company and any current and future planned projects. The whole management team should be involved, to identify potential threats to their teams and working processes and to design risk contingencies enabling the company to continue forward in its planned change programme with as little disruption as possible.
One of my specialities is coaching teams around risk and contingency.
Such coaching around risk and contingency is well worth the investment just from the benefit of having managers come together and discuss some of their issues thereby providing greater appreciations and understanding of all the challenges. Risk contingency design and development provides greater alignment and gives managers planned and already agreed actions.
Such basic practice gives everybody confidence in the rest of the team and creates a higher performing organisation.
Much of my work is based around the provision of coached training designed to help individuals and companies develop towards a higher performing organisation and too keep their many change projects on track. Last week I met with a client and we discussed some of my training modules and he responded … “Training … oh we have stopped all training this year except health and safety mandated training, we are in a cost reduction phase!”
It is common knowledge that sports stars and world class athletes use coaches to motivate them to step up to challenges and to work towards higher standards and I do the same with business teams, managers and corporate executives by developing new knowledge and coaching habits that enable better performance. Can you imagine a young athletics superstar having a spell of bad results saying – oh I am going to stop training because it costs too much?
When you ask yourself, what do we need to do be even better, the answer is … ‘Employ a Projects Coach’.
A Project Coach
What’s a project coach?.
An experienced projects coach will parachute into your company and help your project leadership find the necessary options and solutions to their current project challenges and issues.
I can be retained to provide ongoing coaching to establish good habits or I can simply be deployed as a consultant for a specified period.
Your choice – Let’s talk!
Thank you and have a great day!
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave us many memorable quotes and the one that has always stood out for me is the simple message from his sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood where he said,
“Through our scientific genius we made of the world a neighbourhood, but we failed through moral commitment to make of it a brotherhood, and so we’ve ended up with guided missiles and misguided men.”
Seeking the Promised Land
He was essentially developing the idea that we are philosophically always moving or seeking our promised land – somewhere better and he went on to point out how corrupting this could be if we only focus on the material benefits. It is hard to believe that he delivered this in February 1965, over fifty years ago!
If you spend a little time thinking about this, we have moved on since then, but we still have a long way to go. We have created a more global community where we regularly communicate across vast distances, a global village that is moving towards speaking the same language.
But, we can still do more work addressing equality and poverty!
More than half the world’s population live in poverty and One Billion children live in poverty. For you and me, education is a basic right, yet those children living in poverty are the least likely to get the opportunity to attend a school.
NOTHING gets done without action
As a projects coach and I am all about getting people to take action – You can dream and plan and scheme all you want but NOTHING gets done without action!
So have one less coffee or beer, instead of upsizing have it regular, instead of the car, bus or walk and the little bit of money that you save – donate it – every little helps.
I won’t tell you who to or how – you can work that out yourself – but do it, make a contribution to the education of somebody else in OUR world and earn that feeling of satisfaction at having done something positive.
I leave you with my other favourite Dr. King Jr.’s quote. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Once again we are at the beginning of a new year … and everybody is talking about and sharing their “New Year’s Resolution”.
I have to admit that over the years’ experience has jaded my view of resolutions and I know that many will come to nought, so I want YOU to try something different this year …
Let me tell you a quick story….
I was privileged to watch an interaction yesterday between an elderly man and a young lady in a local coffee shop. He was becoming more and more frustrated trying to send a text message and was obviously struggling with the fact that his eyes weren’t as keen as they used to be and the phone message font was a little too small for his eyes.
She watched for about thirty seconds and then sensing his rising frustration, she went over and asked him if she could help? He said, “What can you do?” and she offered to make the text font larger for him. He promptly gave her the phone and she quickly went to setup and enlarged the text message font for him and then spent a little time with him making sure he was okay with it before going back to her coffee.
Would you have got up and offered to help?
Sometimes we forget that we are raised with technology and it seems simple to us – like many of my friends who speak Arabic and English as if it were the natural thing to do! Many people struggle with technology that we take for granted!
When you see somebody having a spot of bother or becoming frustrated – how difficult is it to say, “Can I help you with that?”
So why don’t you make a resolution that you can try and stick to which is …
Set out today with the intention of stopping and helping somebody else, not for any reward, but because you genuinely want to help somebody.
And be patient, remember, your parents were patient teaching you how to use a spoon!
John Maxwell (Leadership author) is quoted as saying, “To add value to others, one must first value others.”
I believe he has a point and worryingly, I am seeing a trend where many companies are hiring based upon the least cost. A friend of mine recently shared with me how he negotiated new talent into the company as cheaply as possible and that he was rather proud of his newly developed strong-arm negotiating skills. Personally, I think that his real mission should be to get the best candidate for the best price – and strong arming candidates to save a few pennies isn’t the best option for any company. Do they not realise that as soon as a better offer comes along, these people will be off leaving their team minus one or more as well as feeling disenchanted and probably demoralised themselves.
We seem to have lost our respect for one and other and I believe we should all work together to change this stilted mind-set! We should question the payment of large shareholder dividends and instead, seek to pay people a decent living wage. Trust me, if you invest in your people, you will reap the benefits.
In the military we give medals to people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the service of others… in business we give bonuses to people who sacrifice others to benefit themselves!
Somewhere we have taken a wrong turn – We have to change our thinking and get back on the right track!
The Project Coach – “I’m always looking for new problems to fix, like that stalled project you just can’t get sorted … do you need a hand?”
I always find this time of year interesting because of the large number of parents disconsolately saying if only young Oliver / Emily / Andrew etc. had just applied themselves a little more in their exams. Now what are they going to do? – What’s our Plan B?
As a Leadership trainer and coach I see more than my fair share of people aspiring to become better managers / leaders / parents and I spend a lot of time telling people that it doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself you can do it – it won’t just happen unless you actually commit yourself and take action and consistently keep at it.
Putting it bluntly, “Stop whinging and DO something about it!”
Seek to move forwards
It is a simple enough process.
Set your mind on what it is that you want to do and write your GOALS down – look up SMART goals on YouTube.
Work towards your goals – develop a Personal Development Plan (look up PDP on YouTube).
Do the work! (You don’t need YouTube for this bit).
Coach John Wooden said, “There is no substitute for hard work. If you’re looking for the easy way, if you’re looking for the trick, you might get by for a while, but you will not be developing the talents that lie within you. There is simply no substitute for work.”
Credit: Image from izquotes.com
Fake it ’till you make it!
Those who tell you to fake it until you make it don’t always understand the concept. It was originally developed as role playing and is a recognised principle in cognitive behavioural therapy, usually used to aid people with low self-esteem. If you don’t have low self-esteem, why are you faking it when you should actually be making it? There are somethings in life that you cannot fake and there is NO substitute for experience – ask any combat veteran. Once you have gained experience and knowledge of the task at hand, then you can start working towards management and leadership.
Decide where you are heading and step out – Stop complaining about the stuff that didn’t happen – You cannot start the next chapter of your life whilst you keep reading the last one! Get to a place where you are surrounded by people who inspire you, who are creative (sounds like The Improvables, my theatre Improv group) and do something that will benefit you and those around you!
Best of luck – If you need some help along the way – give me a call – I may come across as blunt, but I am an “honest feedback” coach and I have learned over the years that honest truths work best for both my clients and myself.
Takeaway: We live in the moment, so stop wasting your time complaining about it and do something positive to fix it!
In my line of business, I often end up coaching around the challenges of delegation.
Today’s leaders and managers are expected to evolve and move with the latest business and organisational theories.
Normally the C-suite executive in conjunction with a consultancy will develop and adopt a strategic initiative which is then subsequently passed down to the senior management for planning and implementation.
The problem is that many managers are under extreme pressure to perform on their day role. So, when they are asked to take on additional responsibility for new initiatives it is difficult to find the extra time and so they have to delegate. Nothing new there! But something that is often missed is the fact that when you delegate the performance measurement remains at the delegation level. This results in an inclination to over scrutinize the delegate and this results in the unpleasant situation of micro-management. I think we have all been there at some time haven’t we?
Nobody is going to delegate a lot of power to a secretary that they can’t control – Michael Bloomberg
I have witnessed a number of delegation cascade failures with all the attendant micro management and disruption associated with each layer. This also includes the usual culmination of recrimination and good skilled people leaving or being terminated leaving serious skill shortages and much ill grace, and residual fear within the remaining community.
It’s not a case of IF, but more of a case of when …
When you have to delegate responsibility, then delegate to a team rather than to an individual person. Delegation to a team increases the possibility of the group completing the task whilst decreasing the potential for a Single Point Of Failure (SPOF). I first came across SPOF’s at Blandford doing radio relay theory – it just rolls off the tongue.
If you delegate to one person and they are overwhelmed, sick or injured…what can you do? Whilst I appreciate that the current business phase is very much focused on cost management, businesses are expected to develop robust processes and procedures which have built in redundancy and so should you! A memorable example of this was in a large government office where a senior procurement clerk was confined to bed early during her pregnancy and the resulting backlog of paperwork that only she was authorised to approve almost created a political incident.
Many IT systems require that certain roles are created to administer the system and to authorise various business elements and many companies think it perfectly acceptable to assign only one person to this function (See the SPOF? – Now there’s an accident just waiting to happen!)
Delegating to a team also involves the other team members and makes people feel involved as part of the company – ask people to help support the delegation initiative and you can assess people’s willingness and you have subsequent performance data as part of the continuous improvement programme and also for consideration in the performance appraisal process.
Evolution NOT Revolution
My tip, is to think evolution NOT revolution. Give people time to develop and grow into their new delegation challenge. Be encouraging and allow them to come up with their own ideas on how to resolve the issue and try to avoid dictating the way they must do it (unless it breaches any protocols) or must be done in a certain way. Empower your team to do the task with you guiding rather than directing them.
Communicate and manage delegation
If the report is not what you expected, then you didn’t define it properly, so it is not their fault. Take some time and specifically identify the changes you need and congratulate them on the elements they did well.
In the early stages, it will be difficult, because you do things in a different way. Allow yourself enough time to be able to review delegated work that is delivered back to you and set a high standard from the start. Don’t despair if the first few attempts need correction – coach the delegates towards your expectations and praise the good habits rather than beat ‘em up on the not so good stuff.
Key points to remember –
Avoid creating SPOF’s
Think evolution not revolution *slowly does it
Communicate what you are setting out to achieve
You can’t do it all on your own
Delegation is an art – choose carefully the task to delegate, choose carefully the team you will delegate to and work with them to understand what you want, how, when and why. Once you are happy with the output performance then you can achieve much more delegating other task freeing you up to focus on the strategic changes or maybe even moving up the ladder to your next role.
Good luck and remember the words of Steven Covey – “People and organizations don’t grow much without delegation and completed staff work because they are confined to the capacities of the boss and reflect both personal strengths and weaknesses.”
A product of the English Public School system and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Mike is a veteran project manager having worked across three of the five continents, successfully delivering dozens of ICT projects across a wide range of industries involving many different concepts and dealing with many diverse cultures, languages and challenges.
Ultimately, any project delivery depends upon action and not upon how good the plan is. One of his favourite sayings is, “Know how is not show how!”
Unlike more traditional consultancies, Mike works alongside your existing team coaching and mentoring them to deliver whilst learning and applying best practice along the way.
So if you want the project delivered and the job done – contact ELEV8.