What the blazes will it take before people are confident enough to achieve an environment of diverse opinions, levels of experience, types of education, and background?!? Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Or have we simply not made the case strongly enough?
The vast interdependencies of any organization’s projects mean that no single person will likely be able to know or manage every possible impact of a project. Why WOULDN’T you reach for the smartest, the widest breadth of experience possible? What will you do to help open minds, break down biases?
I have a love/hate relationship with time management. You know, you love what good time management delivers. You hate the feeling that you’re focusing on time management so much that you wonder how much time you’re spending on it!
When I (accidentally) started in project management, one of my first mentors gave me a tip that is still useful.
Bob is a big man with a slight southern drawl, loads of experience and a low-key manner. He also had a strong commitment to helping his protégés avoid scar tissue. Unfortunately, scar tissue was most of your education when nobody called you a project manager, but that’s what you were. One day he pulled me aside.
“You’re working way too hard and way too long each day,” he observed.
What!? Wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? Work hard, put in the hours, and wasn’t that why my teams were delivering great results?!
“You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. If your teams help you manage your time better, you’re going to hit the end of the week being less tired mentally, less cranky, and less like you’re looking forward to sleeping your whole weekend away. It means you’re really ready for the upcoming week and all the work that needs to get done in that week.
Ask your folks to put three numbers at the start of their emails.
411 means they need information – timely response, please, but not urgent
611 means they have a problem – please respond at your first opportunity
911 means they REALLY have a problem – please respond, MAKE the opportunity to.”
Having said his piece, Bob strolled back to his office.
This simple tool gave me a better handle on how to use best my time in responding.
Although people know about those codes, it’s nice to see how they can use them. A micro-creative perspective that’s been very productive.
What is your go-to time management tool or suggestion, Judy Balaban, Andy Kaufman, Mark Watson, Jane von Kirchbach, George Wang, Lisa Blake, Greg Hall, Cate Brady, Andrew Neuman? Who would like to share?
Convictions – those things you believe in, that are not negotiable.
This from a woman who points out, in her classes and coaching on negotiations, that you should carefully think about what you think might be open to negotiations and why. For some people this is an odd way of looking at life. Each person behaves differently in conflict resolutions and negotiations.
At the heart of how you behave are your beliefs. The repetition of those behaviors over and over again then become habits.
Heck, you knew that! Here is where a tiny bit of new light might be coming in:
You can shift your behavior, be more agile with your behavior, if you are moving in a direction that doesn’t violate your convictions.
Your own experience told you that. It is that little alarm that goes off when a new environment, a new leadership team, asks for a change that doesn’t quite tally with your own core beliefs. It’s not just hard. It’s really stressful. It’s also slower. Today’s speed of life, speed of business, doesn’t really like having to accommodate slow.
A long time ago – ok, right now five years seems like an awfully long time! – I moved from northern California to the middle of the Midwest. I’ve been on the road for ages and ages so I’ve given lots of thought to regional, cultural, and generational differences. I’ve learned that I don’t know nearly enough and, thankfully for my firm attachment to curiosity, that gives me all sorts of opportunities to learn. It was, and is, my firm conviction, a core belief, is that people have, at heart, many more commonalities than differences. That belief and my generally sociable manner would, I thought, help me build a small community in my new home in short order.
Coming from a place where a huge percentage of the people were transitory, I was unprepared for a place where people stayed put and relationships could be generations old.
Ok. Agility called for. Behaviors needed to be modified, different paces accommodated, expectations (on my part at least!) leveled. Despite occasional stumbles in transitioning, I can say that I see the high value and gratifying depth of the small community I am a part of here.
You can gently shift or modify behavior with greater ease and grace when the rationale for those pivots does not violate your core beliefs. And this is likely true for the other folks in your environment.
For your team ask: what are the core convictions you all share? Start with the strengths you share so the team’s collaborative spirit is strengthened.
Talk to us about facilitating the conversations, the assessments, that can reveal those commonly held convictions and move the needle on your levels of productivity – email@example.com
My answer was, and is, “Courage of your convictions”.
The question? Nicki Anderson, a local leader, asked her community what their answer would be to the question: “”How do you rise as a woman while hanging on to your integrity?”
The question applies to all leaders. The answers are how cultures are built – family cultures, team cultures, and organizational cultures.
Culture is created from beliefs and norms. In the face of that, the value of the courage of your convictions becomes more evident.
Culture doesn’t happen to us – it happens because of us. Our choices, based on our values and convictions, create the cultures we live, work, and learn in. In speeches, sessions and workshops we explore a cultural change model that works – because it is based in the understanding of how culture can be shifted.
What choices would you like to consider with more deliberate thought?
In his great book “The Body” Bill Bryson explores all of the amazing things that, together, comprise our bodies – but not necessarily us. If you touch on life, death will also be a topic and he quotes a very impressive document* in telling us that there are ‘slightly more than eight thousand’ things that can kill us.
Eight thousand. Now THAT is a risk manager’s nightmare.
Yet, in every project, we know – we know – that there will always be threats we cannot mitigate. We also know – we know – that there are opportunities we will not be able to take advantage of.
This can make it easy to slip oh-so-gently into an attitude of reactive risk management.
Model behavior and decisions that reinforce the importance of risk management – both threats and opportunities. How? Make it a part of the conversation, make it safe to bring up concerns or suggestions.
Encourage the team members who have a reasoned approach. We can’t always do anything about 8000 risks but a reasoned approach includes prioritization – a thoughtful assessment of probability and impact and timing. Is this a risk that will have its greatest probability now or later? If now, support your teams in acting upon it. If later, record and retain the information so you can address it later.