How Project Managers Maintain Their Mental Health

It’s no secret that project management comes with its challenging and stressful days. From putting out fires to problem-solving to a phone that never seems to stop ringing, it’s a wonder some project managers keep from tearing through the hallways screaming.

The truth is, project management isn’t always as easy as it looks. And for those project managers who are really good at keeping a sane, calm demeanor, are probably wreaking havoc to their mental states.

So how do project managers keep a straight face, tackle problems, and stay calm on those days when all hell breaks loose? Here are some tips to help project managers stay great project managers and also maintain their mental health.

Stay Calm. First and foremost, no matter what the job throws at you, it’s important to remember to stay calm. If necessary, take a walk to calm down and take a breather. Most project managers can’t fathom walking away or taking a break from a problem once it arises, however, most would also agree that allowing time away from the issue allows project managers to regroup, collect their thoughts, and address the problem from a calmer state.

Keep Emotions out of It. Try to keep the intense emotions out of every situation. Even if a customer or team member is heightened emotionally—or calls you screaming—it’s extremely important to remember not to respond negatively and take it personally. There’s a reason he or she is upset; therefore, the best approach is to listen at what their true concerns are and address them accordingly. Sometimes negative emotions are just a cry for help.

Communicate Clearly. One way to address that upset team member or screaming customer is proper communication. After practicing active listening and really hearing another individual’s problems or concerns, it’s the project manager’s chance to effectively and clearly respond to his or her concerns, show compassion, and provide and offer solutions and/or problem-solve as needed.

Before offering or providing solutions, it may be necessary to take the problem down a notch. For example, it may be necessary to smooth over the conflict and take down the tone and language by showing some compassion and understanding for an individual’s concerns. You don’t have to agree with what the individual might be claiming, but you will have to deal with it. And it’s best to deal with it from a less emotional state.

There are also a number of stress-reducing strategies project managers have perfected over their time and experience in the field. The above tips will certainly help keep a project manager from blowing up, jumping out the window, or doing or saying something he or she will likely regret, which never ends well…for anyone.

Finally, if you are a project manager that is easily overwhelmed or faces difficult projects, customers or team members on a daily basis, then it’s important to remember to stay calm, keep emotions out of a conflict, and practice active listening and effective communication. Not only will this reduce the intensity of a particular conflict or problem, it will also help project managers take control of the situation and manage it effectively.

4 Scary Questions Entrepreneurs Ask about Project Management

So maybe you have had this idea. You have a special talent, you have a passion for a particular service, or you have a creative product to market. Regardless of your forte, you have the potential to go into business. But, whoa, it’s a business. Don’t you need an MBA to own and operate your own business? Well, education is never lost, but, no, you don’t necessarily need a business degree to become an entrepreneur. But a background in project management? This also proves to be helpful.

What Does Project Management Have to Do with Running a Business?

But what does project management have to do with running your own business and functioning as entrepreneur? Well, almost everything. In fact, most entrepreneurs and business owners would be surprised to find out how much project management goes into managing and overseeing even the smallest of tasks on a daily basis.

What Does Project Management Involve Exactly?

Project management involves managing a number of areas and facets of business such as resources, budgets, schedules, communication, customers, projects, and tasks, just to name a few. All these areas are crucial to running a business. In fact, a business isn’t likely to survive without them. You probably already manage and/or oversee most of these areas right now without really realizing it!

What Resources Do I Need?

When running a business, project managers, entrepreneurs, and/or business owners might question what resources are needed to effectively operate. There are a number of tools, resources, and project management software options available that can assist project teams, project managers, and businesses to collaborate on tasks, manage projects, and work together. Staffing a project manager to “man” the software not only means that things get accomplished, but more time becomes available for you to focus on growing your business.

What If I’m Not a Project Manager, Can I Still Run My Business?

But what if you are already in well involved with the operation, growth, and development of your business, but you are finding out that you aren’t the best project manager? Or that maybe you aren’t the best strategist or analyst? Maybe your forte is focusing on vision or creative product development.

The good news is just because you are entrepreneur or business owner doesn’t mean you have to wear ALL the hats yourself, although most often do…You have the option to set up a PMO or even hire or outsource a project manager to handle the logistics, details, and managerial tasks of a project.

Finally, if you are running your own business or you are thinking about it, but don’t have an MBA or other business degree or certificate, don’t fret. It doesn’t automatically guarantee failure. In fact, even a background in project management can help you to run your business effectively. If none of these apply to you as an entrepreneur, the game still goes on. You can always set up a PMO, hire or outsource a project manager, and implement a project management tool to manage projects, daily tasks, and ensure smooth work flows across teams.

How to Manage Projects in a Changing Business Landscape

The world of business and project management has drastically changed over the last several years to a decade. We mostly have technology to thank for this. As we’ve discussed, technology has played a huge role in how communicate, manage teams, how we conduct business, and how to improve customers’ experiences.

While there is a great deal of flexibility and convenience that comes along with technology, it can also complicate things if project managers and entrepreneurs aren’t careful.

Here are some tips on how to remotely manage teams to the best of your ability, how to take advantage of technology and really make it work for you, and how to better serve your customers and boost your value proposition.

Don’t become antisocial. First and foremost—as I always say—is communication. Communication is the heart and soul of any relationship, both personal and professional. However, for project managers and entrepreneurs how manage teams remotely, communication is even more important since you don’t always have the opportunity to speak to and see your team members face-to-face every day.

While communication should be enhanced when working with remote teams, sometimes working remotely can cause us to become, well, a little antisocial. Don’t be that guy or girl. Be proactive in your communication and establish and execute a good follow up system. Teach your team members to also be good communicators.

If you require additional help with your projects and managing your teams, taking a project management course could also be a good idea. There are plenty of training courses available nowadays – both online and in a more traditional, classroom format – and many companies, like Activia Training, offer courses on various levels, from complete beginner to a more advanced level.

Do become organized. If you are a relatively new project manager or entrepreneur, you are likely going to learn real quick that organization is incredibly crucial to the success of your team, projects, and even to your success as a project manager or entrepreneur.

The first step here is to find the best way to organize yourself. This could mean making to-do lists, templates, spreadsheets, visuals, etc. You name it. You can certainly get tips from other colleagues or team members, but ultimately, the best approach to organization is to find out what works best for you to stay organized and run with it. Team members also take great comfort when their leaders are organized.

Don’t avoid conflicts. Conflicts are often uncomfortable for humans. In fact, most will avoid them at all costs, particularly those who struggle with confrontations. However, dealing with conflict also goes along with communication.

No, it may not always be easy, but dealing with conflict in the best manner possible can actually be best for a functional team. It can also boost morale. Team members should feel like they can address issues, brainstorm, and propose solutions in a team environment without negative conflict. Remember, conflict doesn’t always have to be negative; and it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it.

Do use resources when and wherever possible. While project managers and entrepreneurs often feel like they have a lot of responsibility and a great deal on their shoulders—and often times, they do—they aren’t totally left to the way side. There are a number of tools and resources available to assist project managers, entrepreneurs, and teams on managing tasks, projects, budgets, schedules, and customer expectations. Today, many online project management collaboration tools are available that can facilitate project monitoring and tracking.

The landscape of business and project management has changed drastically, and continues to change as technology becomes more accessible and available. However, these constant changes force project managers and entrepreneurs to implement and execute changes to teams, which can involve significant changes to work flow and structure.

The Human Side of Projects: How to Avoid Becoming a Robot Project Manager

Every project has two sides: the technical side and the human side. The technical side has to do with resources, equipment, and even suppliers. These are needed in order to effectively complete a project. There is also the “human” side. The “human” side relates to human intelligence, which is also needed to complete a project, and working within a project team.

But this begs the question: Are projects really humans? The human side of a project also pertains to working with, well, humans. This essentially means taking communication, emotions, and intelligence levels into consideration when managing a project. Doing so will help a project manager avoid becoming a robot.

Entrepreneurs and projects require human leadership. In the world of business, there’s the “business” side and the “people” side, similar to what we just outlined above. Sure, business is about maintaining a certain level of professionalism, and a certain demeanor. However, underneath it all, project teams are made of people—with true emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Therefore, leaders also need to be human.

On the other hand, people are, well, people, and negative and tense emotions can become factors, and even risks, when managing a project. So when your team is impossible to work with, what do you do?

The 4 Stages of Team Development

 

One way to effectively manage a team of people and talent involves incorporating and recognizing the four stages of team development. These stages include:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

Each stage in project and team development involves the various steps that are taken as a team becomes acclimated with one another, learn to solve problems, work together, and overcoming the initial, awkward emotions of meeting or working within new team settings and dynamics. As the stages unfold and move through the cycle, productivity increases.

Effective Communication and Listening

 

Another way project managers can avoid becoming robots and really speaking, listening, and representing oneself as a true person is by practicing effective and active listening and questioning. By practicing active listening, a project manager is truly able to listen to how a team member feels, sets aside any personal emotions and thoughts, and really hones in on what a team member is saying.

Effective listening and communication also involves a certain body language that also sets the tone for any conversation. While we might not solely pay attention to how we carry ourselves, it is truly important to pay attention to how we conduct our body language—how we sit at our desks, engaging in eye contact, and even where we put our feet or cross our legs—and how this really plays a role in what we say and how we listen.

Project managers might not initially think about working with the “human” side of a team, but it is equally as important as managing and organizing the project itself. Depending on the industry, projects can be highly technical, especially in the construction, engineering, and architecture industries, just to name a few. However, no project can be successful without a certain level of human intelligence. And with human intelligence comes a human; a person that wants to be treated like a person.

Why Project Managers Need to Be Great Communicators

There are many attributes project managers are expected to possess but none as critical as the ability to communicate to all stakeholders. Leaders’ inability to effectively communicate is known to break the tightest teams and derail the most promising projects.

If project managers intend to bring their tasks to successful fruition, they need to pay attention not only to being good speakers but in being great communicators as well.

While talking and communicating can both be associated with oral sounds, the fact of the matter is they cannot be construed to mean the same. One can talk incessantly without communicating. Talking can be done every which way without getting a clear message through. If there is anything that differentiates communicating from simply talking, it is the former’s capacity to effectively deliver messages.

One desirable effect of effective communication in project management is gaining the corresponding reaction from those who are directly or indirectly involved in the completion of a task.

So why should project managers aim to be great communicators? Here are three reasons:

Good communication eliminates guesswork 

How many times in the past have you received instructions that left you more baffled than clarified? How did you feel? How did it affect the overall result of a project or activity you were supporting?

When instructions are unclear, people are likely to mess up a task. At best, they’ll deliver a mediocre outcome. More often than not, the confusion stems from the failure of managers to effectively deliver their message across.

Not all associates readily admit they don’t understand. When not given the chance or prodded to ask clarifying questions, many would rather guess – to the detriment of the team. Project managers, therefore, must follow through and ensure members clearly understand what is expected of them.

Good communication forms stronger work relationships 

Behind every successful venture is a united team bound by good communication. Communication is not merely verbal language. Voice tone and body language count a lot, and listeners and followers will always look for cues to determine unspoken messages.

Physical presence and moral support are likewise forms of communication. The absence of such can affect team spirit, as good communication, especially in terms of forging healthy and fruitful work relationships, is critical.

Project managers must also leave their doors open for communication at every level at all times. This involves listening, a lot of it, and requires a more personal touch, like sending individual emails, videoconferencing, or even simple face-to-face talks. The name of the game is engaging team members to bring out the best in them.

Good communication sets the proper tone to achieve goals 

To meet goals on a team and individual basis, being clear about the project’s objectives and the actions to achieve them sets the tone to making things happen, and managers must make sure that messages that matter reach their intended recipients.

Providing timely information about the project’s progress is likewise important so team members know if they’re performing as expected, making it easier to do damage control when necessary and still possible.

Project management consists of a whole range of tasks and responsibilities, but for team members to perform accordingly, making sure they get pertinent messages clearly should be a project manager’s priority.

Are You A Pawn Or A Strategist: Keys To Project Leadership

Strategists are among out best known leaders. Through their vision, countries are established. From their focus on an organization bigger than themselves, they make a lasting impact. Clearly, a strategic mindset helps you make an impact in the world. You might think that strategy is an idea for generals and executives only. It is true that executives bear the greatest responsibility for setting priorities and goals.

The Nasty, Brutish and Short Life of A Pawn

The Oxford English Dictionary defines pawn as follows:

1. Chess. Any one of the sixteen pieces (eight per player) of smallest size, value, and capability in a game of chess.

2. fig. and in figurative contexts. A person or thing of little value, status, power, etc.; a servile agent, a minion. Now chiefly: a person or thing used by another for his or her own purposes.

In chess, pawns are frequented regarded as expendable pieces. Few players have qualms about sacrificing a pawn to secure victory. Clearly, nobody wants to be seen as “a person of little value.” Unfortunately, that’s the reality for a large number of project managers. Research have found that 1/3 of projects are not aligned with the organization’s strategy. Consulting firm PWC found that a large portion of projects are not aligned to strategy:

PwC’s maturity assessments show that only 62% of programmes have an established or mature link between objectives and organisational strategy. (source: Portfolio and Programme Management 2014 Global Survey)

 Unfortunately, this mercenary attitude is common in chess and in organizations. Let’s apply this chess analogy further to see the downside of being a pawn.

  1. Sacrifice.

 Pawns are often sacrificed in the pursuit of victory. In organizations, a project team disconnected from the strategy attracts few defenders when the strategy changes.

If many of your projects are sacrificed due to problems or as a result of strategy changes, you will be perceived as a pawn.

  1. No access to the big picture.

Pawns serve on the front lines of chess. This position and the high probability of being sacrificed means there is little value in pawns learning about the big picture. You project may play a significant role in preparing the firm to be acquired. If you’re too deeply concerned with firefighting, executives will see little point in sharing that information with you.

Missing out on the big pictures means you may omit important stakeholders. Your ability to relate to executives and leaders will also suffer.

  1. Perception of marginal value.

 In organizations with limited familiarity with project management, project managers may not be understood. If management does not understand the value of project management, there’s no reason to give practitioners high regard.

Perceived marginal value is one of the reasons why project managers don’t reach the C-suite.

Tip: If all you exclusively focus on schedules, controls and technical details, you may be viewed as solely concerned with details.

  1. Limited mobility

Compared to the Queen, Bishop or Knight, pawns have very limited ability to move across the board. Project managers who are pawns have the same limited mobility. Your ability to climb the ladder of power and impact will suffer.

You might be completely happy in your current role and have little interest in climbing the ladder. What if your company (or client) eliminates your role? Your ability to seamlessly transition to a new role will suffer.

Given these significant drawbacks, you should set your project management career sights higher. If you’re just starting out, you may feel like a pawn. It’s an unpleasant feeling. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to last forever – you can escape the pawn

The Benefits of Becoming A Strategist

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. ” – Michael E. Porter (Harvard University)

Strategists know which battles to fight. In business, General Electric famously decided to focus on products where they could be market leaders – GE choose where to compete. In war, the Allies carefully planned where to enter Europe. Likewise, strategic project managers understand the importance of choosing which projects to work on.

Tip: Strategists learn from history – you can start with PM History Lessons: D-Day by Paul Bruno.

  1. Access to strategic projects.

Is your company expanding to Asia for the first time? That expansion will require projects. Seeking out projects that directly advance the organization’s strategy is the mark of a focused strategist.

  1. Seeing the forest instead of the trees – the portfolio perspective

 Unlike pawns who simply go where they are told, strategists seek to put projects into a broader perspective. As part of your project planning, seek to meet with your organization’s Project Management Office (PMO) or the executive sponsor. Ask about previous projects and future projects that set the context for your work.

You will gain the immediate benefit of understanding your stakeholders more deeply. In the long term, you will be able to predict which projects will receive support.

  1. Lead the Project Management Office (PMO)

 By adopting a strategist approach, you will have the mindset to lead a project management office. Imagine having fifty or even one hundred project proposals on your desk and limited resources. That is but one example of the strategic challenges you will have leading a PMO.

  1. Work with consultants successfully

 Many large organizations rely on the consulting expertise of Deloitte, PWC, McKinsey and other firms. As a strategist, you will be well placed to understand the purpose of a consulting project. Rather than viewing consultants as disruptive outsiders, you will seize the opportunity to learn from them.

Do you consider yourself to be a strategist? If so, how did you achieve that perspective? In my case, I have learned aspects of strategy from my study of history and reading books. Strategy is something we need to learn to increase our value as project managers. To learn more about applying strategy to your projects and your project management career, read the Project Management Hacks strategy series at Project Management Hacks.

How to Avoid Scope Creep Like the Plague

What is “scope creep”? This is a term often used in the world of project management. It can create huge elements of risk, it can blow schedules, and it should be avoided at all costs. So what is scope creep exactly, and how should project managers and project teams avoid it?

Scope creep is by definition “the addition of work as a result of poor or incomplete definition of project scope”. Basically scope creep can refer to either late or last minute changes to the overall project scope that a project manager allows, or poor planning or a major oversight on defining and determining the project scope from the beginning.

It’s happened to all of us: We get assigned a project, we analyze the requirements, draft specifications and put together a statement of work, select vendors or suppliers, and production begins. Then, the customer contacts you with a change or addition to the original scope, or a scope that doesn’t resemble the original at all! This happens more often than not. So what do you do? Do you revise the schedule, the specifications, and redraft the SOW all over again and start over from scratch? Or do you tell the customer ‘no’? Neither of these sound like good options. So what does a project manager do?

Project managers must start a new project and begin defining what the plan is right away. In addition to defining specifications and drafting an overall project plan, the next thing a project manager should do is set a commitment to a certain baseline of specifications. This may be easier said than done, but it’s important for a project manager to explain to a customer the risks and impacts changing or deferring from the original project scope can have on the overall project deliverables and outcome.

Usually customers, when armed with this information up front, are receptive and understanding of this. However, we all know that there are those that just don’t. So this goes back to the question above: Do you tell the customer ‘no’? Of course, we don’t want to flat out tell the customer ‘no’, however, perhaps a compromise can be formed between the two parties.

We’ve all dealt with changes in project scope before. Some are minimal changes, requiring adding a couple days to a couple weeks onto the schedule, or some maybe adding an extra QA step or two. On the other hand, some are more complex, no doubt adding on weeks or sometimes even months onto a schedule, which then the budget needs to be factored in. It’s important that a project manager communicate what risks and impacts a change can have on the overall outcome of a project. You can try to be accommodating with the customer, but be realistic. It may be necessary to discuss scheduling changes, deadline changes, or even project price changes. You can also try to meet them halfway and make some of the changes they want, which may only impact the budget and schedule minimally, and perhaps consider more complex changes during a revision down the road, if this is an option within your industry, of course.

All in all, scope creep should be avoided at all costs…literally. Scope creep can get way out of control if a project manager doesn’t put the brakes on early on in the project. Again, in gathering customer requirements, it’s also important for project managers to establish boundaries and agree on commitments as far as what changes can or will be made later in the project life cycle.

How Donating to Charity Can Make You a Better Leader

It is said that charity starts at home, although it could make a triumphant entrance in the work place too.

Being a charitable and conscientious leader will help you gain respect from your colleagues, your professional peers and beyond. By setting a good example and leading your business down the right path in terms of your business’ social, political and environmental statement, a plethora of positive opportunities will become obtainable to you and your business. Corporate charitable contributions can prove to be beneficial in ways you had never imagined- both psychologically and economically. In effect, more and more businesses have begun to see the benefits of partnering with local and national charities and causes. 58% of people surveyed across 130 companies said that they place greater emphasis on cross-sector partnering than they have in the past, and the process has moved up considerably on the business agenda. Not only does it provide great marketing and networking opportunities, but supporting a worthy cause can boost office morale and benefit the wider community as well.

Considering the advantages of such contributions, the tendency for UK businesses to donate to charities is surprisingly low. Business support from UK charities and communities is estimated at between £700-£800m per year. This figure represents around 2% of UK charities’ income, compared to 43% contributed by individuals, and 37% from statutory sources. Helping to boost this figure in any shape or form, and point out the need for business support could open up your employee’s eyes to the situation at hand, and in effect, if you do get your business involved, or involved personally you could be a source of inspiration in the office.

Firstly, it’s imperative to choose to support a cause which is of industry relevance as well as relevance to the community’s needs. Your philanthropic efforts should resonate with your target audience as well as attempt to match your company’s mission statement as much as it can. Enhance your goals, don’t create new ones. Some of the most admired and suited partnerships in the past have been M&S and Oxfam, with their clothes exchange and P&G and UNICEF, with their “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” campaign. Smaller businesses also support various causes which reflect their essential purpose as a company. For example, independent UK based wealth management firm, Ramsey Crookall have a number of staff and directors acting as trustees and directors of charities, in attempt to demonstrate their ultimate responsibility as shareholders- to add value to business operations. The firm have supported causes such as the British Heart Foundation, St John’s Ambulance, and the Princess Diana Care at Home Trust in the past year alone.

Great exposure for your business can be achieved by supporting a worthy cause within your local community. For example, a sporting event to raise money for the local hospital could be an incredible opportunity to get your business’ name out there into the wider community. Company t-shirts for the teams competing or merchandise of a similar kind could be a cost effective way to market your business while simultaneously supporting a local cause. Even sponsoring a local sports

team is a useful way to funnel marketing money. What is more, getting involved in a charitable function such as this could increase your credibility as a company and enhance your customer appeal. Local visibility in the community could lead to even wider visibility within the city or county, depending on the size and budget of your company.

Events like these can also be great networking opportunities. The chance to bring your business away from the confines of office and highlight the goods or services you provide could be highly beneficial for your business; especially if you decide to support a cause which matches your company’s mission statement. Events to raise money for the chosen charity will most likely attract other businesses or groups with similar intentions. You could even reach out to them as a company, in attempt to get more like-minded companies together, and you could make contacts that way. The opportunity for your staff to meet similar-minded people will be beneficial to your business and the wellbeing of your colleagues. It would undoubtedly be well received if you introduce your staff to some potential friends, and business contacts.

From a leader’s perspective, working with charities can help companies to stand out as contributors to society, and to the economy, as well as providing opportunities for personal development and team building. What is more, having your employees getting actively involved in the cause your business supports will improve their understanding of social and environmental issues. Having first-hand involvement in the issues you support could be fundamentally beneficial to everyone involved, from a financial perspective as well as a HR one. Supporting a cause can help make a positive difference to the communities your workforce is a part of.

Getting hands-on with the cause your company supports can be very satisfying, especially if money is making a considerable difference to the cause. Observing a positive change can boost office morale and elevate your respect as a leader, as a result of your responsibility of the organising the involvement in event. Of course, it is important to make the involvement in such events voluntary, as forcing an un-work related obligation will not be respected at all. Describe the event as an enjoyable and beneficial activity to be a part of, and consider offering those who take part in the event a small perk, such as a free product or an extra afternoon off, which will help boost your manager credibility as well. Rather than just writing checks or donating food to good causes, managers worldwide are becoming a force for positive change while enhancing long-term competitiveness.

A true leader wouldn’t just force their staff to donate to charity, but they could encourage them to get to the bare bones of the cause and get truly immersed in it. True passion can be contagious and admirable, so if there is a certain charity you feel personally connected to, don’t be afraid to show it.

7 No-Hassle Tricks in Managing an Agile Team

It has been said that behind every successful agile team is a good team manager. A manager, who not only performs within his functions but also goes the extra mile for his team members without leaving anyone behind, is one of the keys. If you are a manager who thinks what you do is already enough –think again. As times and trends change, so are your people. And as far as success is concerned, team management practices should be evolving from time to time to achieve the best results yet.

Here we give you some tips how to effectively manage an agile team.

Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

1) Constant communication is key

When we say constant, we mean constant. Communication perhaps is in the vocabulary of every management guide for agile team. Consultant Johanna Rothman suggests that managers must conduct biweekly one-on-one meetings with the team and provide constant feedback and coaching: a feedback how to give feedback and coaching how to give coaching. This way, each team member becomes an alpha of a certain workflow or an effective subject matter expert with minimum supervision from you.

 

2) Think small and agile

One indicator of an agile team’s success is size, and there is a right size for every team, which is usually smaller. You might want to follow what works for Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in agile management: the “two-pizza rule”. If it takes more than two pizzas to feed the team, the team is likely too big. A dozen or fewer people are more likely to care for each other, as the area is more focused and concentrated. If you are managing a big group, you might want to break it into smaller units for easier management. Note that this is not to divide the team, but to make sure each team member is being prioritized and valued.

 

3) Healthy work ecosystem

Know what works for your agile team. Does each team member have a certain working style that is not in accordance with the company policy? Do they function well in a certain time of day that will be fit for them to work? It is necessary to make adjustments in your team management practices so that you and your team can meet halfway.

 

4) Provide a career development

Your team is your business, and of course you want that business to grow. As a manager, managing an agile team involves mapping out a career plan for each member so they know how to achieve their goals and direct them towards the direction their careers are heading.

One way to reinforce this resolve is to encourage team members to come up with a project management initiative. What part of their work needs improvement? What problems arise within the process, organization, or themselves that need intervention? You might want to look at six sigma initiatives to aid your project management.

 

5) Measure performance

You may ask yourself: how good is good enough? A key to a successful agile team management is to have the numbers to back up that your agile team is indeed performing. That is why it is important that you come up with a metric that will measure your team’s performance as against to your time target. You might also want to set a standard as to how good is good enough, how bad is bad enough. This way, you can monitor if your team is progressing or spot the gray area where they need improvement.

 

6) Think like a content marketer

Managing a team can be like content marketing, where you analyze all sides of the business in order to come up with an effective strategy: social media promotion, good keyword targets, catchy headlines, and its other components. Managers might want to channel their inner Freud and utilize his psychoanalytic approach when it comes to a successful agile team management: the id, the ego, and the superego.

The id would be for the team to deliver outputs with the least use of resources –less time, less cost, but high quality deliverables. The ego component would be more realistic –differences among team members, appropriate management style of the manager, needs being met (salary, benefits, etc) and utilization of different skills, among many other things. Last but not the least, is the superego part— that aims for perfection: sustenance of the business, consistency in team performance, and good relationships with the customers.

 

7) Supplier Management and Outsourcing

In relation to number 6, you must have a panoramic view of the business and put your team in the perspective of the customers and stockholders. Does your agile team supply the demand? Do you deliver high quality outputs? Are your customers satisfied? Will they come to your company again? Not only your team is your business, but your customers, too. Putting this to your perspective will help you realign your strategic plans for a successful agile team management.

Managing styles can differ from person to person. But the key to a successful agile team management is a manager’s determination and dedication to bring out the best in his team members and make sure no one gets left behind.

How Learning Styles Can Make You a Better Leader

What is your learning style? Everyone, regardless of career, level or position, has a learning style. Adhering to and recognizing that learning style is critical to individual success. Furthermore, implementing various strategies and learning tactics into training team members is critical to your success as a leader.

The different types of learners include visual, auditory, and tactical. Each step in strategic thinking and planning should incorporate each learning style to ensure that team members are learning their jobs, incorporating their goals, and getting the most out of what they learn in the most effective manners possible, and that are just right for them.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Maybe…but let’s break it down a bit further.

Visual Learners. Visual learners are the team members that rely on visual aids, such as charts, graphs, concept maps, or even prefer reading material at their own pace in order to learn and intake information. So the team members in a meeting or presentation that may seem like they aren’t paying attention, they are, but will most likely read up on meeting notes or review presentations on their own time and at their own pace.

Auditory Learners. Auditory learners are the team members that prefer listening and participating in lectures by asking questions as opposed to reading material. Some leaders may find that the “talkers” in the group are often the people that wait until a minute before the close of a meeting to ask 100 questions. Be patient…those are just your auditory learners speaking up.

Tactical Learners. Tactical learners, also known as kinesthetic learners, are the team members that are doers. They are the fidgety, hands-on, “I need to just DO this” kind of people. These are the team members that might doodle or fidget in meetings or during presentations that others might find annoying or distracting. They are in fact listening, but they prefer to do it rather than listen to it.

By recognizing and understanding each learning style, we just learned a whole lot more about our teams, didn’t we? Now that leaders understand each learning style a little bit better, how does this knowledge make us better leaders, entrepreneurs, or project managers? It allows us to tailor meetings, training presentations, and even how we support and teach new team members the ways of the job.

For example, Joe is a visual learner on your team. He visits your office or calls you up and asks a question that may require some training or in-depth explanation, how do you show Joe what to do? If Joe is standing in your office or is on the phone, you can verbally explain to him what to do, and then you might follow up with an email with those same instructions after your conversation. You can also email him charts or slides from a training presentation for his review. This way, Joe, who may not have taken in every single word you said, which doesn’t mean he didn’t listen, but now he has an email from you to read on his own once he dives back into his task and figures out what to do.

Some of you who might be reading this might think this is borderline micromanagement. It isn’t. It’s not about doing team members’ jobs for them, it’s recognizing individual learning styles. Just like any team member would recognize a team member’s strengths and weaknesses, this is taking it one step further and reaching a team member in the way that they learn best. This is what truly will set you apart as being a good leader.