Influence is the Key

When you think about project management as a whole, much of it boils down to influence. As a leading project manager, the ability to influence others must be a skill you consistently develop and use.

How do you get someone else to do work on behalf of your project? Influence is involved in one form or another.

How are you developing your influence skills?

If you aren’t, here are some resources for you to consider:

Influence Without Authority

How To Win Friends and Influence People

Your Family Members Are Key Stakeholders of Your Project

Do you take the inclusive or exclusive approach to stakeholder identification? Do you include every person or group you can think of who might be affected by your project as a stakeholder? Or do you only include those who would be most affected?

I tend to skew towards the former in my stakeholder analysis. You may not need to list them on your stakeholder register, but in my opinion, your family should be considered stakeholders of your project.

Is it possible that you would need to work over a weekend for your project and miss a family event or gathering? Is it possible that you need to travel for your project? These are just two scenarios that would prove your family members to be stakeholders of your project, in my opinion.

Stakeholder Communication for Project Management in Large Companies

I recently read a good post at the Voices on project management blog about tailoring communication for top stakeholders . The post describes the mutuality matrix, which outlines communications based on the dimensions of project needs and stakeholder needs.

While the points in that post are excellent, I wanted to expand on the topic a bit. If you work in a large company as I have, your project communication may need to be tailored by stakeholder role as well.

For example, a senior executive will likely need a different type of communication than a functional team member in another department. The senior exec usually wants the high level information only. They have much on their plate and need to move on to the next item on their planner which taking up their attention. So with this type of stakeholder, you need to focus on the high-level overview of your project. Think: dashboard, RAG rating, key risks and overall budget. Don’t get into the details of your project with this type of stakeholder, unless they ask for specific information. Give them a concise visual overview of your project and be ready to answer any question. Otherwise you risk this stakeholder tuning out.

For a project team member, you more likely need to tailor your communication to the specific interest they have in your project. I think it’s a good idea to give them an overview of the project at a high-level, but then to delve into the details that this particular project team member might be concerned with. This would usually be done in a one to one meeting with this key project team member rather than in a group setting.

If you are communicating to your program manager more than likely they want to know what could go wrong or what is going wrong with your project, whether it be a budget overrun, schedule slippage or any other risk to the success of the project. It’s usually a good idea to give this type of stakeholder the high-level overview of the project and then to focus in on some of the specifics just mentioned and how you plan to address the specifics in order to ensure project success.

If you’re sending out project communications to a large portion of the company, branch offices for example, you only want to hit the high notes and not give too much detail. This ensures that you don’t receive too many questions that aren’t relevant or cannot be answered to the satisfaction of the larger stakeholder community.

These are just some general guidelines for communicating to stakeholders of your project.  Your situation may differ, of course.  What other ways do you communicate with your key project stakeholders?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.

PMBOK Posts

I’ve put all my posts related to the PMBOK here in one place, if you’re looking to get more information around this key project manager resource.

One book that all project managers should read is the PMBOK.   No matter the flavor of project management you practice, from waterfall to agile to any other style, this book will give you a strong understanding of project management knowledge and best practices, in my opinion.  All the material in the PMBOK doesn’t need to apply to all projects and ways of managing projects.  But studying the PMBOK will give you a better understanding of project management as a whole, and I think, make you a better project manager in general.

Want to give a gift to a project manager friend or loved one?  Can’t go wrong with giving the PMBOK, release 5.  It’s required reading for all PMP hopefuls, as well as currently certified PMPs in my opinion.

If you’re looking to train to become a PMP, it’s a must to read the PMBOK.

Reluctant to read the PMBOK?  Seems daunting?  Too much work, and not worth getting the PMP certification?   Read this post, and you just might change your mind.

Speaking of the PMBOK, release 5, it was out in draft format almost a year ago, with PMI looking for feedback.  Its full release is January of 2013.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not only project managers looking to become PMPs who should refer to the PMBOK.   Seasoned PMs should refer to it as well.

Reading the PMBOK in preparation for taking the PMP examination should not be the only thing you do, in my opinion.   Taking classes and completing a certificate program in project management with an end goal of the program being preparation for the PMP exam, is a more comprehensive preparation strategy as far as I’m concerned.

And if you want to take the extra step, you can earn your degree in project management.

 

 

 

 

 

Your PMP Credential is Suspended!

Your PMP Credential is Suspended

Have you ever received the above message from the Project Management Institute?  I am not thrilled to say that I have.  I keep up with the project management profession, obviously.  I write a blog on the subject.  But…I did not submit my Professional Development Units, or PDUs, in a timely manner.  And for that reason, my PMP credential was put into a suspended status.

If you’re not already aware, once you earn your Project Management Professional (PMP) credential by submitting your required project management experience, hours of education and passing the PMP exam, you will need to maintain your credential by earning 60 PDUs every 36 months.  It’s not an extremely difficult thing to do.  At it does not need to be costly.  But you must be diligent in earning and submitting proof of your PDUs to PMI.   It’s very difficult to “cram” for your PDUs at the end of your 3-year cycle.

Some ways to ensure that you maintain your hard-earned PMP certification include:

1.  Listening to Project Management Podcasts

Face The Music
photo credit: JD Hancock via Flickr

There are two project management related podcasts, of which I am aware, that are registered with PMI.  For each hour of podcast audio you listen to, you can submit one category C, self-directed learning Professional Development Unit.  The two podcasts I am writing about are:

You are permitted to submit 30 PDUs under the self-directed learning category (C), during your 3-year cycle.  The two podcasts above fall into this category.  Also, please be aware that there are free and premium versions of podcasts to be considered in this category.

 

 2.  Volunteer with the Project Management Institute (PMI)

This is a great way to earn PDUs.  It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be worthwhile and probably beneficial to your career.  At PMI.org you can use their Volunteer Relationship Management System to find the appropriate opportunity for you.   One word of caution:  make sure that your calendar permits the time commitment required, as indicated.  Although there are some great opportunities for you to contribute to your profession as well as earn your PDUs, this is a professional time commitment that should be factored into your overall workload, both in the office and at home.

3.  Read Project Management Books

The PDUs you would earn here fall into the same category (C) as listening to podcasts.  It is self-directed learning.  I have earned PDUs in the past by reading books such as Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (Theory in Practice) by Scott Berkun.  There are literally thousands of books you could read that would qualify for ongoing professional development though education.  Pick one, start reading, take notes if you can, and count how many hours you spend reading so you can accurately report your professional development units.  j

4.  Watch a Webinar

Under the Knowledge Center heading on  PMI’s website, you will see a link for On-Demand Webinars.  Click on that link to see available (free for PMI members) on-demand project management webinars.  As their site states, 1 hour of watching a webinar qualifies as 1 category A PDU.  Here is the direct link to the webinars.  Ostensibly, you could also view a video on YouTube for an hour, pertaining to project management, and earn a PDU as well.  Below is just one possible example.

5. Take a Class

There are two primary ways you can do this.  Online or in-person.  For those of us with time constraints, and I think that fits the bill for most project managers, the online option might be the most feasible.  There are some fairly affordable options out there from very reputable organizations.  I’ve written previously about some PM classes available from some of the best universities in the United States.

6. Write an Article

If you like to write, or don’t like to but are good at it and need to earn PDUs, you can publish content with PMI on it’s Knowledge Shelf or to their blog at Voices on Project Management.  PDUs claimed for writing project management articles fall into category D, creating project management knowledge.

The above activities are just several of the available methods for you to earn your Professional Development Units on an ongoing basis, so you maintain that hard-earned PMP credential.  If you have any other cost-effective methods you use to earn PDUs, which you’d like to share with our fellow project managers, please let us know by leaving a comment here.  Thank you.

 

Avoiding Project Manager Burnout

Project plans, Gantt charts and risk registers, oh my! The demand for faster, cheaper and better delivery of projects can lead even the most experienced project managers to burnout. But there are ways to manage and even prevent burnout before it happens. Here are four ideas to do just that.

Walk
photo credit: Todd Huffman via Flickr

1. Take a Hike!

No, literally. Get up from your desk and walk away. Exercise is proven to elevate mood and relieve anxiety. So take a minimum 15 minute break and walk around your building, outside, in the hallway, wherever you feasibly can. You may not think you can afford a 15 minute break to go for a walk, but you’ll be more productive and less stressed after your walk. Think of it as physical and mental self-maintenance to ensure your future productive capacity.

2. Just Breathe

Want to reduce your stress levels quickly? Breathing techniques can do this for you. The nice thing about breathing techniques is that you can do them anywhere and most anytime. Several medical experts have recommended breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels. Here is a quick video on how to conduct breathing exercises at your desk:

3. Eat Well

Don’t brush this one off. What you eat can have a significant impact on your energy and stress levels. A “poor diet” can result in mood swings, fatigue and poor concentration just to name a few. A healthy diet can provide you with the sustained energy a busy PM requires. I personally find that eating a salad with some protein for lunch gives me all the energy I need for the afternoon, without the necessity for caffeine.

4. Say Ommmm

You’ve heard this before no doubt: meditation can be a great stress reliever. When I was younger I couldn’t see myself ever meditating. I gave it a try though and I’m sure glad I did. The calmness and balance felt after several minutes of meditation is astounding. You can also combine meditation with walking for an added benefit.

If you have any other recommendation for short term stress relief and prevention to avoid project manager burnout, please share them in the comments section.  Thanks.