Project Managing the Holidays…

Project Managing the Holidays…

Project Managing the Holidays...

It’s upon us. The beginning of the holiday season. A long weekend with family, friends and even a few in-betweens!

If you’re the one who lost the family coin toss and face a throng of your loved humans at the door, then your project management skills are going to come in handy.

You are not going to do it all. No way. You’re going to manage it!

The time-honoured parallel path method of project management is a great skill to call upon. Ask everyone to take on a task suitable to their skills, then leave them to it.

Okay, it may not be that easy with Uncle Rob and his arthritis and Aunt Lucy with her bad leg but you get the idea.

You’ve given the potential turkey gobbling guests jobs. Now trust them. Do not give them new directions or interfere with their tasks. Just leave them the hell alone! They’re capable people!

It’s like an Instant Pot or any slow cooker for that matter. You put the ingredients in and turn it on. Every time you crack open the pot, you stop the process and have to reset it. And don’t even think about adding new ingredients. That slows the process entirely.

Being an exceptional project manager is sometimes about what you don’t do as much as what you do.

Sure, you hire a team, assign roles, set a timeline, deliverables and such. Those are the basics.

If you develop a team and their professional relationships are clicking, then you have to do something that seems counter-instinctive. You have to have the discipline to step back and let the team congeal and work together.

Sound easy? Well, it isn’t. But it calls on your skills as a project head far more than just routine pushing, cajoling and repeating.

Let me be specific. Increasingly I want teams to use peer review as part of their process on a constant and ongoing basis. To be realistic, I want them to do it on an informal basis at first and then develop the skill so they perform it in a non-threatening way.

I introduce it to them in one of the first few meetings we have and hope that a few of them commit to trying it. I monitor the first few reviews to guide them and add pointers and such.

Crucially I don’t chase them around to be in on every single damn review session! To be successful, they have to integrate it into their development process. I’m not going to be around all the time and for good reason. I have to let them evolve and work with this on their own.

They know I'm around but they want to develop an autonomy of their own. No one wants the teacher coming in to mediate every issue that arises for a very simple reason. They may not like the outcome!

You built this team: trust that you did a good job and let them work together with the mechanisms you put in place. Teams have organic energy all their own. Mess with it and you can ruin it.

Just let it be.

This isn’t about the team, it’s about your leadership. You have to be sure enough of your leadership and skill at building the team to know when you’re not needed. Teams want to work and move a project forward. Trust that your presence is felt. They know where you are when they need you. But they just may work better if you give them the room to work together.

During a speech at the Harvard Business School in 2015, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said: “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence."

As I said at the beginning, leadership is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Trust yourself by trusting your leadership skills. And trust the team.

But back to the turkey crew. You’ve got the skills to turn them into a team! You’ve got this and crucially, they do too! Trust them!

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday – and if you don’t celebrate the holiday? Here’s to a terrific start to the holiday season!

If the crew-to-team-to-ensemble development pattern sounds intriguing give us a shout – – we’d love to have that conversation with you.

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