Is your Labrador smarter than your PM?

An article called My Dog is Smarter Than Your Project Manager by Brad Egeland caught my eye when I was skimming new project management articles to read. I immediately thought, how rude! Aside from the outlandish comment about his Labrador being smarter than some project managers (I am certain that could not be true) I get author’s point and he had some good words of wisdom for project managers as well. Brad listed three best practices for project mangers to follow:

  1. Stay on top of the project schedule – Conduct weekly meetings to get the status update on your team and revise the project schedule daily.
  2. Manage the scope well – The scope serves as a basis for keeping everything else on track well like the project timeline, budget, and keeping the project as profitable as possible.
  3. Communicate – That means listening well, too…don’t forget that. Conduct meetings, follow-up afterwards with notes, keep project team informed at all times, and do the same for senior management.

Brad also brought up some things that I could relate to. Those moments where your project manager does not seem to be listening or grasping what the group is saying. Additionally, when they suggest things that are completely out of left field like they don’t get what’s going on at all. I can certainly relate to that at work right now. Our project manager in my department does keep up on the schedule, even when I’m not sure if we should be because of how our last meeting ended. It’s probably best he stays on schedule though or else we wouldn’t accomplish anything. He has been lacking at managing the scope because he has not been able to redirect our meetings back to the scope whenever they get off track. For example, we are converting our paper employee files to electronic, so we’re implementing a new software called m-files to replace our outdated/inefficient paper file system. Several times our compensation and benefits manager, who we all respect greatly on this project, has come into the meetings that should just be about the employee file and he has taken it so far out of scope into a whole philosophical debate about our shared drive in the office that I don’t think our project manager knows how to rein him in.

Communication is something that our project manager could improve on too. We receive too many emails from him all around 5-5:30 PM, very last minute, the night before a big meeting at 9 am the next day. So I’ll end up reading it on my phone upset that he didn’t email me that a few hours earlier! We are using SharePoint as a way of editing files, and he could clean up the entire thing a large amount so that we weren’t spending half our time trying to find the current version of whatever document were working on either.

Regardless of all my minor complaints about my project manager’s work style, I do not think that a dog is smarter than him! I am impressed with his skills, how far he’s gotten us, and his enthusiasm about the project. His positivity is the only thing that keeps me engaged in this project.

Have you been in a project where you thought so little about your project manager that you think they could be replaced by a dog? Or have you known anyone who was so upset with their project manager that they would think the same as Brad?

How to Improve Your Project in 9 Easy Steps!

I am pretty new to the idea of project management. Having just been hired at a firm that has a designated project manager, I am learning a lot about how necessary I find them to complete a relatively large project. I found an article with helpful steps from PM Times for Project Managers and it was called, 9 Easy Ways to Improve Your Project.

Here were the 9 steps:

  1. Engage your team on a day-to-day basis – Ask for status updates as check-ins.
  2. Get in touch with the project client at least 3-4 times a week – Especially if something is going wrong, client’s appreciate the constant communication.
  3. Revising project financials on a weekly basis – Consistently check in on your budget to avoid bigger problems.
  4. Communicate meeting agendas to participants in advance – This is helpful for members to know what is expected of them for the next meeting so they can come prepared.
  5. Do not cancel your meetings – This shows that the meetings aren’t well organized.
  6. Stop being reasonable with team members – Don’t be let it slide when people don’t meet their deadlines.
  7. Change the attitude from ‘starting’ to ‘do it right away’ – Take a look at your time management, and see where you could cut out personal things that are done at work.
  8. Conduct lessons learned session during the middle of the project – Reflect on what you have learned throughout the project.
  9. Ask your CEO to attend the next meeting with the project customer – This shows that the project is important and respected.

I agree with all these points that were made. I greatly appreciate when my project manager checks in with how my particular task is doing for the project. It shows me that he cares, and helps the team to reflect on whether the task at hand is realistically going to get done at the expected deadline. As a client on our current project, I would be upset if we weren’t being contacted consistently by the software company we were using. Especially at the beginning days of our project, it’s confusing and we definitely need reassurance.

Agendas are key for team members to see, it helps me know what’s coming up and what we are working on. I also appreciate the closing out emails so that we know what was discussed and moving forward what we have to work on before our next meeting. Canceling meetings too frequently can be a problem. I have seen this happen and the meetings themselves become less respected and people show up less often. The CEO being involved is important too, the head of HR at our department is involved in our projects and shows us that they are important to the group/company as a whole so that way we are all dedicated in getting it completed well.

I haven’t had a particular time in my office where someone hasn’t turned in an assignment on time and they have been reprimanded… does anybody have a story like that to share? Where a team member in an office hasn’t hit the deadlines?