The best of project people


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Project People; different types of project people - from project teams and internal management to client and stakeholder relationships.

People are the make or break resources of any business and we offer these insights so that you can learn from our experience when it comes to leveraging talent and mitigating non-constructive conflict.

This is a collection of excerpts from the blog archives 2008 - 2013 presenting top tips and advice from our professional project managers in a "best of" series now available free to download and share.

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The best of project people

  1. 1. The Best of Project PeopleA selection of professional insights from the Blog archive © 2013 All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. Since 2008 our project management professionals have been sharing knowledge,experience and learning with online readers via the Project Manager Blog.Their collective wisdom provides a wealth of how to, top tips and best practice advice,for project managers, teams and businesses.To make their writings more accessible we’ve created a series of “Best of” projectmanagement topics available free to download and share.Here is a collection of excerpts from blog posts and our online video series that looks atthe different types of project people - from project teams and internal management toclient and stakeholder relationships.People are the make or break resources of any business and we offer these insights sothat you can learn from our experience when it comes to leveraging talent andmitigating non-constructive conflict.Enjoy!Jason Westland CEOProjectManager.com5 Ways to Help Your Project Team.............................................................................................................. 3How to Motivate Your Team ....................................................................................................................... 6How to Motivate Your Team Without Paying Money ................................................................................. 7Looking After Your Prized Staff ................................................................................................................. 10How to Manage Team Performance ......................................................................................................... 11Building Your Project Teams ..................................................................................................................... 12Get a Room!............................................................................................................................................... 15How to Objectively Throw Someone Under the Bus ................................................................................ 17What Makes a Bad Project Sponsor? ........................................................................................................ 204 Signs That It May Be Time to Fire a Client .............................................................................................. 2330 Day Free Software Trial ........................................................................................................................ 26 © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2
  3. 3. 5 Ways to Help Your Project TeamNo one can deliver a project alone. A team is great – you can surround yourself withexperts and build a real community spirit with common goals to help get your projectdone. In reality, teams can be difficult to work with. Team members may not get on, andthey might not share your vision of how the project should be managed. There may beconflict, or people holding on to their knowledge being unwilling to share it. Differenttime zones, cultures and locations make things even worse.Working with teams is a skill, and to be honest, itcomes with practice. You can’t just start out inproject management being an excellent teamleader, although you may find that some of yournatural abilities at working with groups helpsmassively.If you have ever worked with volunteerorganizations or in other team work situations likesports teams, then all that experience will helpyou too. But you will get better at leading teamsthe more you do it.That’s not much comfort to someone who needs to lead a project team right now, sowhat can you do to help your team get off to a good start? Here are 5 tips that you canput into practice today.1. Be ReliableSet a good example in everything you do. If you say you will ask for status reports everyThursday afternoon, and then make it a habit. If you aren’t good at remembering, put arecurring appointment in your calendar or set up your project management software toemail you a reminder once a week. Show your team that you are reliable, and they willsee that it is the appropriate way to manage themselves on the project. Don’t be afraidto challenge anyone who isn’t reliable and ask them to up their game. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 3
  4. 4. 2. Don’t MicromanageYou’ll probably be working with subject matter experts who have a lot more experiencethan you in their areas of expertise. Sodon’t micromanage them. Explain the tasksto be done and let them get on with it intheir own way.This is also the best approach for peoplewho don’t fall into the ‘subject matterexpert’ category. Everyone has differentways of working.Some people thrive on the pressure ofdeadlines, some will always deliver earlywhatever milestone you give them. So letpeople work in their own way.Provided the output is good enough, it doesn’t matter if they get there in a differentway than you would have.3. Get Them What They NeedOne of the main roles of a project manager is to facilitate other people doing their jobs.Do what you can to give them whatever they need to get their work done. This could betraining on the online project management software so they can update their own taskschedule, or arranging access to the IT system from home. It could be as simple as a newoffice chair or organizing for them to have a company mobile phone so they can makework calls while they are on the road.Of course, some items are easier to procure than others and you may not have theauthority to sanction weekend working or overtime payments yourself. In that case, youcan at least ask the relevant people, and make sure that your project team know thatyou have tried to get them what they asked for (let’s assume it was a reasonablerequest that you would support!). Knowing that you have their best interests in mindwill also help the team work together and it sets a culture for the team as one of sharingand collaborating.Make your team members’ lives easier, and they will find it easier to concentrate on thetasks they need to do on the project. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 4
  5. 5. 4. Share the RationalePeople thrive best when they know whythey are doing something. Don’t simply settasks and expect them to be done.Explain the business justification for theproject. Go through the business casewith them. Share the project’s objectives andexplain how the work they are doing fitswith the company’s strategic goals.You will find the team is more motivated if they know how their contribution fits intothe bigger picture. Another advantage is that they will be able to see how things that falloutside the project may have an impact on the project. For example, someone who ison the project team but who normally works in Sales could share some information withyou about another sales initiative that could impact the goals of the project you areworking with. If your team understands the complex web of how different projects fittogether they can listen out for information that can make a difference – you’d besurprised at how much knowledge is out there if only they knew how relevant it wouldbe.5. Say Thank YouYou can never say ‘thank you’ too often. Project team members should be appreciatedfor the work they are doing (assuming that they are doing a good job – if they aren’t,then that is a different situation). Many managers forget to thank staff. Even if theindividual is doing the work they have been paid to do, you can still make the time to begracious and thank them for their contribution.If you are going to say thanks, make it timely. You can thank people in person when yourecognize that they have done something that makes a contribution to the project, oryou can thank them over email. Putting it in writing means they have something fortheir personnel file, and you can also copy in their manager.Another approach to saying thanks is to let people know on a Friday that you appreciatewhat they have done that week. You don’t have to be a great public speaker or make abig declaration in front of lots of people. Simply saying that you appreciate their effortsthis week as you leave the office (or they leave the office) is enough. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 5
  6. 6. How to Motivate Your TeamJennifer Whitt, Director at presents tips on how to motivate yourteam from our online series of project management training videos Setting realistic goals: As we start on a new project, we all get gung-ho and we’re all excited about it. We start formulating our plan, but yet remember to get the input and the agreement from the people on our team. So one of the tips is setting realistic targets for the work that they have to do. Measure performance: How are we doing against the baseline of what we said we were going to do? Are we on track? Are we off track? If we’re on track or off track, how do we get back and how do we meet the goals that we set?’” It’s important for the project manager to remember what support or what resources might my team or project need to get us back on track. Provide the support and tools, but measure that performance to see how we’re doing. Celebrating success: That is a big one. Celebrating success is not just at the end of the project, but all along the way, whenever we meet those even small milestones, acknowledging, “Hey, we met that,” and being excited about it, and looking at the next one. Always rewarding the team for achieving success, and more importantly, rewarding the team for working together as a team, not just the hero. Know your team: A lot of times we get involved with things where we have to know, if this is a detailed task, if the person working on this is a detail-oriented person. They may need to get some detailed information. If they’re not that type of person, we need to know that and get them some support.Just knowing your team, knowing their skills, their expertise, their idiosyncrasies, whatthey like, what they don’t like. Those are really the things that we need to keep ourteam motivated… being aware of the people on the team, being aware of where theyare on the project, being aware of what they need to succeed, and just being mindfuland treating people with respect, and again, not driving them to the next project.I’m guilty as charged about keeping my team going, going, going. Sometimes I have tostop and remember to be mindful and aware of the team members and what they need.You are the project manager, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that your team ismotivated. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 6
  7. 7. How to Motivate Your Team without Paying Money People are motivated by different things, and project team members are no different. While some will be motivated by the altruistic desire to deliver a good project for the benefit of the company, others are motivated by hard cash. And of course, you’ll find a whole range of people in between.Project managers rarely (if ever) have buckets of cash to give out to team members whohave done a good job. There can also be tax restrictions on how much you canfinancially reward team members, to the point where some of them may prefer not toget extra money as it could have a negative impact on their tax position.If you can’t give bonuses or a pay rise to those project team members who haveperformed well (or whom you want to entice to perform well in the future), you can stillprovide a working environment that motivates in different ways. Here are some ways tomotivate your team without giving them more money.Say Thank YouSaying thank you is free, quick and isoften more appreciated than cashbonuses or a pay rise. People like to feelappreciated.Say thank you often, and in a timelymanner, which means just after theevent. It is better to recognize effort at thetime it was made instead of storing upyour thanks for a while to the point that the person may have forgotten what it wasthey did that was so great.If it is appropriate, put your thanks in writing. A hand-written note is good. Or produce aletter on company headed notepaper and see if you can get your manager or a C-suiteexecutive to sign it. There’s no harm in asking! If they would rather not do this (or youwould rather not ask), sign it yourself. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 7
  8. 8. If you say thanks by email, you can copy in their line manager. It is always nice to knowthat someone else has recognized your effort and even more, that they want your bossto know about it.Offer Time Off in LieuIf you can’t offer money as an incentive or motivating factor, what about offering timeoff? These days, many workers spend more time at work than their contracted hours – itis just the way we work nowadays, however unfair it may seem at times. If project teammembers do a lot of extra hours, for example over a launch weekend or working out ofhours to avoid downtime to users during a system upgrade, find out if you can offerthem time off in lieu.They could take the time off in exchange for hours worked, as long as they agree it withtheir line manager and you in advance and it is taken at a time that is convenient for theproject and the rest of their work. Many people like the opportunity to have additionaltime at home with family or to pursue a hobby, and because they have already workedto ‘earn’ it, it’s like having extra vacation days.Organize Training or Other Development ActivitiesGenerally, people like to learn new things. What training could you offer project teammembers? Maybe it is the chance to learn a new online project management tool. Itcould be a formal course, such as an introduction to project management for those thathave not worked in a project environment before, or something relevant to the projectdeliverables.Soft skills training, such as leadership,communication skills and coaching could also bea possibility, although it could be harder toargue why your project is funding this trainingwhen it should be part of their general careerdevelopment. Talk to your HR departmentabout how this should be managed if you areunsure.Further education courses can be expensive, but your company may have a bursaryscheme to allow promising team members to enrol on MBA courses or similar. Youmight not be funding this from your project, but you can support this type of training by © 2013 All Rights Reserved 8
  9. 9. allowing the team member time off for study and exams, or by providing a supportingtestimonial for their course application.Provide a Good ReferenceThis works best with contractors as they normally know they are leaving at the end ofthe project. You wouldn’t want to offer a good reference to a salaried member of staffin case they thought you were trying to get rid of them!Even if a contractor isn’t going to be around long term, they still need to feel as if theywork in a motivating environment. Knowing that there is a good reference available tothem at the end of the project can be an incentive to doing an even better job.Your HR department may have guidelines on who can write references and what theycan say, so if you have any doubts about what you are allowed to comment onregarding their performance, just ask. You can always provide a reference in a personalcapacity rather than as a nominated representative of your company, so you could dothat as an alternative if appropriate.Help Them Identify Transferable Skills Projects give individuals the chance to try out lots of new skills, and this can be a real motivation to certain people. Think about how you can ‘sell’ your project to your team members by stressing the transferable skills that they will acquire from working on it. Transferable skills are things like planning, risk management, solving problems, time management and leadership – all things thatthey can demonstrate through working on a project and things that translate well toother projects or assignments.You could also offer support towards accreditation. Credential schemes like those fromPMI require candidates to put forward a portfolio of evidence so you could help withpreparing this and providing the on-the-job opportunities for team members to gainexposure to areas where they currently lack experience. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 9
  10. 10. There are many ways that you can motivate project team members without giving themmoney; you just have to think creatively about what would motivate that individual andthen work out a way to create the opportunity to deliver it.Looking After Your Prized StaffIt’s a fact of life that your project team members can make you or break you as a projectmanager. Jennifer Whitt, Director of presents her advice on howto keep them both loyal to you AND to the project, from our series of online PM trainingvideosThere are a few things that we have found that are helpful in winning over our prizedstaff and keeping them loyal to not only us as a project manager, but to the project. Identify who the critical people are on the project: There are critical people who, if taken off for any reason, may be misdirected to another project or moved around, that would have a significant impact. We want to know who those people are. Build the relationship: Forming and building and nurturing these relationships are important to help identify how you as project manager can support them and being more effective on your project. Awards and recognition: Being able to reward people or recognize them along the way. What we found is that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with dollars. There’s research that’s been done for a long time, and we know that a lot of times being able to continue or do work that you like to do on a project keeps people rewarded. Going to them and asking for their input and letting them provide input or ideas on new approaches for the project. Being candid with them, being candid on when you really like the way they do something or giving them candid feedback on how they can grow. It’s all in positioning, things that you can say and do to help them grow as a professional and let them know that you’re really interested in and invested in their growth potential as well. Balance their workload: Many times when we find those critical resources or our go to people, they are generally the ones that can do anything and everything, and you can rest assured that they will get it done. What happens is we tend to overload them. We give them more work and more and more and more, which burns them out and makes them want to leave. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 10
  11. 11. How to Manage Team PerformancePresented by Jennifer Whitt, Director of in our series of freeproject management training videos - Performance reviews and managing your team’sperformance is one of the most critical things that you as a project manager have to doto keep your team set up for success and your project on track. These are seven of mytips that I use to set everyone up for success. Set targets: It’s easier for the team to know what they’re shooting for if you set targets. What are they aiming for? Not only as a team within your project, but individually. Conduct reviews on a regular and scheduled basis: I actually had them documented so everyone knows ahead of time when the reviews are going to happen, and on a regular basis. Provide feedback: it’s uncomfortable for most of us when we have to provide feedback, whether it’s good or bad… but it’s a two-way street. So you as a project manager are providing feedback to your team members and getting feedback from them. Track performance metrics: have specific measures in place so you can measure that you’re actually improving and measure what you want to improve. Celebrate successes: sometimes you may have a customer, a client, maybe another organization or department give you accolades for something that one of your team members did or your team as a whole did. Well, you want to bring attention to that and celebrate. It adds fun. There are so many ways you can have fun. Reward team behavior: this idea is about rewarding the team versus the hero. Release or bench poor performers: whether it’s just a bad apple of someone who really doesn’t want to be on the team or they have a bad attitude and they’re disrupting the entire team, it’s best to address that and somehow get that person off the team. Select for talent: Go for the A team. Get each of your team members up to par. Support them in how and what they need to succeed… substitute the word “managing” for one of these key words: “supporting your team’s performance”, “encouraging your team’s performance”, “energizing your team’s performance”, or “fueling your team’s performance”. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 11
  12. 12. Building Your Project TeamsDevin Deen, Content Director at presents 3 key principles forbuilding project teams efficiently in our series of online PM training videosHi. I’m There’s three items that I have found to reuse many different times to help mebuild those highly performing teams and those are the three items, the three principlesthat I want to talk to you about today.Building a high-performing you: now all your project teams, your sports teams, yourbusiness teams, what they’re looking for in a leader is really to be that person to stepup. That doesn’t mean you have to be the loudest person in the room, but it does meanyou have to have the most confidence because that’s what your team is looking for, youas their leader.You have to exhibit certain behaviors about yourself, make sure that you are consistentin those behaviors and also you have to have that positive energy because you really arethat foundation for the team. They’re looking to you to sort of have that energy that youradiate out for them to sort of radiate it back to you. If you’re negative on the day, weall have down days, your team will pick up on it. If you’re really positive, maybe a littlebit too cocky, a little bit over-the-top, they’ll also pick up on that and react accordingly.You’ve got to have that consistent level of positive energy for them to capture.Now, about the behaviors we talked about here, really what they’re looking for on theirteam is someone that they can trust, someone that’s fair, they’re consistent, theyadjudicate when that needs to happen and sort of reward also often and early whenthose special members stand out and work together as a team.They’re looking for someone to be the judge and jury on aspects and also be theultimate direction. It’s those behaviors that you need to exhibit that you want yourteam to exhibit and behave as you do, which comes to the last point, really, aboutbehaviors, it’s about leading by example.Getting the right people for the job: it doesn’t always mean always getting the mostexperienced people, though. Don’t confuse experience with output. What I’ve found inmy career is that, sometimes, those people with the most experience can actually causeyou the most problems as well. They’re the ones that have got the delicate personalities © 2013 All Rights Reserved 12
  13. 13. that you have to manage every day of the week. They’re not always the people that aregoing to perform the best for you.So when I grow my team, when I hope to get a team together, what I look for is gettingthe people with the minimum skilled requirements, so they’ve got the competencies todo the job, but they also have the maximum positive energy and potential, that’s whatyou’re looking for at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, when you’ve got to deliver that softwareproduct into production, or in the middle of the day when you’ve got that crisis meetingwith the chief executive. You want those people who can carry themselves well, whohave that positive energy and that can go the extra mile.It’s also about building a culture. You need a culture of people who can meld together,right? You can have people of different races, different backgrounds, but really you, asthe leader, set that culture, establish that warm, open environment where your teamcan actually try things out, can fail, can pick themselves up again and start achievingagain as a team. You want them to work together. You’re not looking for a group ofindividuals who are trying to outshine their other team member. You’re looking forpeople to come together with no egos in the way, who will come together and performas a team.That’s also effective when you look at sports teams. If you look at, for example, teamsthat bring a lot of highly competent people together, let’s say, on the basketball court,rugby court, rugby field or the gridiron, if you see a team that actually just assemblesreally good individuals, you’ll find that they crack under pressure. You’ll find that a lowerskilled team with a lot better attitude, a lot better synergy and working together, canoften defeat your most highly paid sports teams. So what you’re looking for whenyou’re building your team, like I said, is you want the minimum competencies, thosepeople who can achieve the job, but with the most maximum positive energy.Empowering your team: I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen dictatorial project managers,who are dictatorial business leaders or sports teams’ captains get out there and expectto do everything at their beckoned call. That’s not an effective way of building a goodhigh-performing team. A high-performing team is one that is actually empowered tomake decisions on your behalf. They know what you’re thinking. They know what theobjectives of the project or the sports game would be and they can act as individuals,with the mission in mind, actually achieve the goal. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 13
  14. 14. You’re not requiring them to go back to you for every single decision. You’reempowering them to make those decisions. They won’t always get it right, but what youwant them to do is actually exercise good judgment and wisdom and make the bestdecision they can on the day because a good decision, or a timely decision, is muchbetter than no decision at all.If you have a bunch of robots, people who aren’t taking the initiative, then what you’llend up with is, again, a whole bunch of individuals who have to come to you for makingevery little decision. As a project manager, you’re going to be in a million differentplaces at a million different times of the day, lots of project meetings, lots ofcommunication going on. You’re not going to have the time of day to make littledecisions that your entire project team has to do.So, if you empower them, create the culture where they are actually allowed to makedecisions in a certain way, in a certain area, then you’re going to actually get them towork together better as a team and get them to do what you want them to do withoutyou even having to give that direction.So, just to bring it all together, my method, my three key areas for building highly-performing teams first: make sure you’re a high-performing you. You’ve got the rightenergy levels, you’ve got the clear mind. You’re confident. You’re leading by example.The rest of the team will take up in your positive energy and radiate it back on the job athand on the task.Secondly, is make sure that you get the right people for the job. Forgo those highlyexperienced people with the massive egos. Steer well clear away from them. Get thoseindividuals who are competent at what they do, but more importantly have that positiveattitude and can go the extra mile.And, lastly, make sure you empower your team. Make sure they know they can take theinitiative, they can take decisions in your stead and they can carry through on achievingthe objectives of the project. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 14
  15. 15. Get a Room!Have you been impacted by people in meetings that always want to talk aboutsomething else besides what’s on the agenda? They put all their business out in front foreveryone else to see. Here are some reasons why people behave like this and what youcan do to help them take it offline.People Have a Hard Time Focusing: One of thebiggest reasons people keep going off-topic isthat they have a hard time focusing on one thingat a time.Our daily professional lives have devolved to thepoint that we only read headlines from newsoutlets, or snippets of current events for a coupleminutes each morning.We equate reading a blog post or two each day to reading a book. Twitter messages arerelegated to 140 characters and mobile texting is giving email a run for its money. Fromthe moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, it would seem that everythingis designed to interrupt us and get us thinking about something else.Our adaption to this constant interruption of short bursts of thought has ramifications inface-to-face meetings. Conversation naturally sparks other ideas or topics to bediscussed. But rather than writing those ideas down to explore at a more appropriatetime, most people turn the white rabbit loose so everyone can chase it down the rabbithole…never to be seen again.People Think They Are More Important than Everyone Else: It’s possible that peoplewho discuss topics that really should be taken offline feel they are more important thanothers in the room. They are not conscious of the fact that their pontificating aboutthings that are irrelevant to others cuts into everyone’s valuable time.Don’t believe me? Watch their behavior in other settings. They are late to meetings ordon’t show up at all, or change directions without letting others know. Their worldrevolves around them. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 15
  16. 16. They Want Everyone to Think They Are Smart: A finalreason why people may get involved in public one-offconversations is that they want everyone to think they aresmart.If they are sharp enough to bring up tangential issues anddelve into details, they feel it will cause everyone to pauseand reflect on their wisdom. Unfortunately, the oppositeis most often the case. People will pause to acknowledgetheir selfishness.The net result of a meeting hijacked by an irrelevant topicis that it will unequivocally derail the intended purpose ofthe meeting.You’ll struggle to facilitate the meeting back on track, mostly because as unnecessarydetails are introduced, people become confused. In some cases, it may even spark an a-ha! moment and someone else in the room will take things down an entirely new anddifferent path.How to Take Things OfflineThere are a number of things you can do to take irrelevant (yet important) subjectsoffline.If it’s you: First, if you’re the culprit…stop it. Many a meeting facilitator bounces off thewall and gets off script. It is 100% within your power and influence to stick to YOURagenda. If you find there is time left at the end of the meeting, great. You can bring thetopic up with the handful of relevant people. Cover what you deemed to be mostimportant first and then use any excess time for the new topic.If someone starts to derail you: Someone may not agree with what you say. They maynot like you, or they may not have the most recent information. If they keep bringing atopic up repeatedly for the purpose of engaging you, let them know that you’ll be gladto speak to them offline. Then, make sure to immediately talk to them about theirconcerns; ideally, right after the meeting.If someone starts to derail other meeting attendees: Someone may engage anothermeeting attendee in a public display of arrogance, or agitate someone else, and you © 2013 All Rights Reserved 16
  17. 17. may have to call a time-out. Let them know that everyone has a lot to cover and that itwould be best to take their conversation offline. Then, leave it up to them to figure outthe best time to get together and finish their discussion.Here’s the trick with taking things offline. Sometimes it is a dismissive avoidance tacticused by someone who really doesn’t want to talk about a topic. They’ll say “let’s takethis offline” but never get together to work out the details.If you successfully avert the off-topic discussion, follow through to make sure that thingstaken offline are actually discussed and then brought online again. Having said that, justremember that there can be so many things offline at any given moment it’s a wonderthat anything runs at all.How to Objectively Throw Someone Under the Bus Have you had to deliver bad news about a project? It may be a weekly status meeting, PMO meeting, or maybe even something bigger like an executive review. The cause of the problem is in the same room as you, and will unfortunately view your report of the problem or topic as an act of betrayal.You really do a lot of good things in the course of you project manager duties. You bringorder to chaos. You apply your project management skills to remove obstacles that arepreventing work from moving forward. You bring clarity to confusion and removeambiguity from vague situations. You go home at the end of the day and feel goodabout what you do.The curse of the project manager is the part of the job that requires you escalate orreport out on people that are not performing as expected or needed to for the sake ofthe project. For most, this is such an uncomfortable position to be in. I’ve seen theoccasional project manager take a twisted delight in turning someone in who is behindon their work, but thankfully these types are few and far between, and generally don’tlast very long. We don’t like turning people in: Let’s face it, it feels like you are turning someone in that hasn’t done their work. It takes you back to 3rd grade when you ran up to the © 2013 All Rights Reserved 17
  18. 18. teacher to tattle on the kid next to you that’s not doing what they were told to do. Tell tale, definitely one of the least enjoyable project manager’s roles. We feel as if it could damage our relationship: We develop friendships and relationships at work that may even carry over to our personal lives. We may feel that reporting out on work that has not been complete is to turn our back on a friend, or sacrificed friendship for the sake of a silly little project. Just like Connie said above, “I thought we were friends.” You may feel somewhat responsible yourself: A third reason project managers are hesitant to report someone is behind is that they may feel responsible themselves. Here’s the scenario: you left out a key element of the plan during the project planning process. The mistake was an oversight on your part, but now the responsibility to get it done falls on someone else…for example, Connie. Not only does the surprise of it cause Connie grief, but now you are telling everyone that she is running behind and doesn’t have it done yet. Awkward.These scenarios might not be included in your project manager job description yet theyare a reality that we need to keep in mind as project managers. You can’t dictate orcontrol whether someone is going to get their work done. They know what they need todo and it’s ultimately their responsibility to get it done. It’s your responsibility to aid andfacilitate as much as possible, that’s why you are paid your project manager salary, butthe buck does stop with them to follow through on their commitments.How to Throw Someone Under the Bus ObjectivelyWe are using this expression veryloosely and primarily from theperception of the person that feelsthey are being thrown under the bus.Our motive and goal as a projectmanager is not to betray someone’strust and hold them up as thescapegoat for all something that hasgone wrong. Our goal is to objectivelyreport on the issue and look for options to make things better.The answer to this dilemma you face as a project manager is the quintessential projectstatus report. That’s right, when used properly, the humble status report can help you © 2013 All Rights Reserved 18
  19. 19. report issues objectively, constructively, and remove emotion from the equation.Here’s how to make it work:.First include some a component on your weekly status report that lists deliverables thatare soon to be due (1-2 weeks out), deliverables that are due (this week), anddeliverables that are past due (even by just one day). This report serves as a dynamicwindow into the key deliverables of your project. Then: Tell everyone the rules: Let everyone know that the purpose of this part of the weekly status meeting is to stay on top of what is coming up and what is getting behind. The primary owner’s name will be associated with each deliverable and move along the timeline as it progresses. Everyone, including the owner of the deliverable, will know what’s coming up next. Provide ample time to keep things on track: Your job as a project manager is to provide ample time for the necessary resources to keep their deliverables on track. You can go above and beyond using just the report. If you know someone has a tendency to run behind, give them a heads up that something is coming their way and they need to plan for it. They’ll appreciate the reminders and it will help keep your projects on track. Be objective: Despite the fact that everyone knows the rules and you’ve provided ample time for them to get their work done…some will still fall behind. Their name will move from coming up, to due, to past due. This is where you need to be objective in how you report out on this issue. There’s no need to editorialize and lace the issue with your own opinions. “He said he would get it done, he didn’t, and now we’re behind…just like all the other times,” should not be the way it is presented. It’s obvious if their deliverable is in the Past Due column that they are running behind. Spend the your time focusing on the solution that will help them to get caught up again. Treat everyone the same: You need to be careful to not use this mechanism as a way of ‘teaching someone a lesson.”’ You may not particularly care for someone that is running behind on a deliverable. You use this report as an opportunity to highlight their flaws and shortcomings every opportunity you get. On the other hand, you may have a buddy that promises he’ll catch up by next week’s report if you just leave him out of the Past Due column this week. What happens if next week he ends up being two weeks behind? That could easily blow up in your face. Make sure to treat everyone the same and you’ll end up with a higher level of respect. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 19
  20. 20.  Be disciplined: Putting this report together requires some legwork on your part. It could be easy to put the report together for a couple of weeks, let it slide for a couple of weeks, and then do it again. Don’t fall into this trap. The strength of this report is its consistency and regularity. It allows everyone to peer into the window of activity without huge gaps of nothing happening in between.What Makes a Bad Project Sponsor?All projects need a project sponsor, and getting a good one can make or break a project.The project manager who is saddled with a sponsor that doesn’t care about theoutcome, has no power to make decisions and can’t give you any resources is in a verydifficult situation.Many experienced project managers have had to put up with awful sponsors – asksomeone with a few more years on the job than you and you’ll soon hear some horrorstories about project sponsorship.So what sort of sponsor should you avoid? Firstwe should look at what a project sponsor is for.A project sponsor is there to support the projectmanager, the project team and to act as anescalation route in case there are issues orproblems (and let’s face it, there will be).While a project manager deals with the day-to-day project stuff, a project sponsor helps resolvethe next level up issues. These are typicallythings that fall outside the agreed boundaries fora project manager; things like issues that needextra money to resolve, or that would changesome key date or amend the scope significantly.That’s when the project sponsor would step in and resolve the problem, or at least letthe project manager know what direction to take so that he or she could move theproject forward again. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 20
  21. 21. As the sponsor doesn’t deal with the detail all the time, it’s the project manager’s job topresent a couple of options and a recommendation. It’s no use going to your sponsorand asking them to solve a big problem for you without any of the background. If youcan’t work out the answer, the likelihood is that they won’t be able to either, so at leastgive them a chance of being useful and offer them some options to choose from.If your sponsor is too remote from the project, even options won’t help, so part of theproject manager’s role is to ensure the project sponsor is fully briefed with a generaloverview of the project and the challenges at the moment.10 Signs of a Bad Project SponsorNow you know what a sponsor should do, here are ten signs to look out for. These areall signs of a bad project sponsor.1. Unable to represent the project at senior management level: The sponsor doesn’t have a seat at the top table, or has no opportunity to rub shoulders with the people who make strategic decisions. A sponsor who can’t influence can’t keep your project on the agenda.2. Never gives you any information: Project information should go up and down the management hierarchy, and a project sponsor who never tells you what is going on can’t be trusted to give you information about strategic changes that may have an impact on the project. Or they just aren’t privy to this information, which is equally as useless.3. Not prepared to communicate on your behalf: The sponsor refuses to send out communications on behalf of the project, or to appear at events or speak about the project in staff forums. Part of the role of the sponsor is to get attention for the project, so if your sponsor won’t help with this most basic of tasks (even if you draft the communications yourself) then you will struggle to get the support you need.4. Won’t make decisions: Projects need decisions, and if your sponsor takes too long to make them or won’t make them at all, your project will run so slowly it will © 2013 All Rights Reserved 21
  22. 22. eventually stop. A sponsor who needs input from lots of people is probably too insecure to be taking on a project sponsorship role at this time.5. Refuses to attend the Project Board: The project board or steering group is their meeting. If your sponsor won’t attend, or attends under duress and sits there saying nothing, it is a sign that they don’t really care about the project. If their body language implies they would rather be somewhere else then they are failing to give the dedicated time to the project and to take the sponsorship role seriously.6. Procrastinates about signing off project documentation: The sponsor won’t sign off project documents or approve changes to the baseline schedule. In an extreme case, the project sponsor won’t approve expenses or timesheets. All this holds the project up and shows that the sponsor is not dedicating enough time to the project. Or that they truly don’t know what they are doing and don’t have the authority to be making these sorts of decisions.7. Won’t get you the resources you need: The sponsor is unable to find the people or money required to make the project a success. This could be a sign that they don’t have authority over the right budgets or teams, or it could be a sign that they will not make the budget and teams available to you for your project tasks. Either way, a project sponsor who either blocks your access to the resources you need or fails to argue the case to get you what you need means that your project will eventually slow down or fail. Of course, if you are asking for a team of 300 for a six month initiative to launch a small piece of software, that isn’t going to happen, but your sponsor should be able to provide you with the required resources or at least an explanation about why they are unavailable.8. Unwilling to approve changes: Projects change all the time. The sponsor who is unwilling to sign off changes to requirements or other aspects of the project is showing their inability to deviate from the agreed plan. This could be due to nervousness or the inability to make decisions. Or it could be because they don’t feel they have the authority to make changes. If it is really their project and they are responsible for the outcome, they should be pouring over change requests and assessing them fully. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 22
  23. 23. 9. Doesn’t understand risk management: The sponsor who is too cautious will use up all the contingency budget in risk mitigation activities. The sponsor who doesn’t care about risk at all will take too many chances without mitigation plans and will end up causing more problems. Risk mitigation can be difficult to understand, but your sponsor needs a good grasp of the basics so that he or she can support you with risk mitigation.10.Doesn’t own the benefits: The sponsor doesn’t have any influence over the project benefits or any interest in whether benefits are actually achieved. One of the best ways to hook your sponsor into the project is because they have a strong desire to see the project be successful because they have to live with the outcome. A sponsor who doesn’t care about whether the goal is achieved or not won’t help fight the corner for the project.4 Signs That It May Be Time to Firea ClientThere are many tell-tale signs that signal when it’stime to break off a personal relationship. But, arethere any signs in your professional relationships?Clients and projects are not all created equal. If youdread working with particular clients, then it may betime to put an exit strategy in place.Rarely is the decision to fire a client in a projectmanager’s jurisdiction. That would come from thesales or executive team. However, a projectmanager can certainly influence decision-makers as to whether or not a client hasbecome more trouble than they are worth. It is a business, after all.The following are signs to look for if you struggle with how long to put up with atroublesome client. One caveat…minor infractions are not cause for concern. We are allcapable of creating or causing occasional trouble. We’re talking about extreme cases ofconsistent behavior that negatively affects the quality of your work life. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 23
  24. 24. 1. They don’t follow the advice of the company: The client has hired your company to perform a service for them because of your expertise and ability to get the job done. You need their cooperation to make this work. Case scenario: a client has decided to implement a certain piece of software within their company, but based on your experience, you advise that it is not going to work. Not only will it not work, it is sure to make your company’s job that much harder to execute. You warn them about the path they are taking. You let them know this is a slippery slope that is sure to open a can of worms in the near future. They shake their head in agreement, but you know they ultimately will not follow your advice. They are going to do what they want to do, because it’s what they’ve done time and time again. A client has unique needs in their organization that they have to accommodate. However, if an obvious pattern of bad decisions continues to negatively impact your company, you may want to analyze their fiscal value to the firm.2. They Constantly Do an End Run Around the Hierarchy: Another trait of a client that you would consider firing is that they don’t respect the hierarchy your company has in place, or the procedures and protocols that must be followed in order to get things done. For example, it is highly uncommon for a client to talk with developers, engineers, DBAs, and other technical resources directly. The protocol of your company is for them to work with you, the project manager, and for you to convey the messages. The protocol is valid for a number of reasons. First, it’s extremely disruptive when technical resources talk to clients directly. It opens a door to questions that most technical resources are ill-equipped to answer. It also costs the company money for technical resources to ramp down, then up again to talk to someone. Finally, technical resources may agree to work that is out of scope from the original agreement. It may seem harmless at the outset to take on additional work, but downstream consequences for other groups involved could be considerable. Test plans, training, and documentation are all factors in agreeing to scope changes. In spite of protocol, a client just can’t seem to get their head around the fact that © 2013 All Rights Reserved 24
  25. 25. they shouldn’t talk to resources directly. Their end run around the project manager structure is a sign that they do not respect the hierarchy in place. Are they not getting the response they feel they need on their projects? If that’s the case, you may need to step up your game in order to remove the need they feel they have to talk to resources directly.3. They Lose Their Tempers: A big part of being professional is the ability to control one’s temper. The good news is that most of us learned long ago, whether in school or at home, that it’s unacceptable to throw oneself on the floor in a fit of rage. Well, most of us did. We’ve all seen grown adults that have lost it. I’ve worked with clients who take pride in getting what they want by acting badly. I’ve worked with employers that say yelling and screaming is just the way they do business. Needless to say, I haven’t worked with them for too long, and neither should you. If you have a client that loses their temper frequently, recommend letting them go.4. They Incessantly Ask for Pro-Bono Work: Another trait of clients that negatively impact your business are those that are always asking for free stuff. We get it; clients want to feel that they are getting their money’s worth. We all do. However, if they constantly ask that we just throw one more thing in, or give them this project for free, or discount something to the point that it doesn’t make sense for the company then we need to step back and consider that relationship. No need for a rash decision here. Understand what their value to the company is over the long-haul: have they been with you for years? Are they a huge name that brings prestige by virtue of association? Is there an important strategic reason to do business together? If someone is always asking for free work, and it doesn’t have the potential for a long-term relationship or downstream referrals, then you have a decision to make. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 25
  26. 26. 30 Day Free Software TrialThere are two key differences between and its competitors.The first is that we give you all of the features you need to plan, track and report onprojects efficiently. The second key difference is that our competitors charge a highupfront price as well as annual maintenance fees for new releases.Here at we offer you all of the features you need to manageprojects, at a small monthly price of just $25 per user. That simple! When you sign up, you also get for free: Unlimited Projects 3 Gigs of Document Storage Client Login Free Upgrade to New ReleasesTake Action, Sign-Up for a 30 Day Free Trial Today! Take a Free Trial Create your own Projects Sign up to boost your project successAny questions? Email andone of our friendly support staff will be happy to help. Wealso recommend a visit our resource library if you wouldlike access to further:-  project management tips  video tutorials  project management templates © 2013 All Rights Reserved 26