Bringing Order to “Project Chaos”

Buy generic Cialis Soft 20 mg By Denise DeCarlo, PMP

Are you trying to make sense of today’s hectic business environment? Does each day seem to get more out-of-control? As project management professionals our job is to be organized, plan the details to avoid surprises, and deliver a product that meets the expectations of our customer. However – planning seems to be the last thing organizations are willing to invest in. Instead, the “fire of the day” seems to be the normal mode of operation. Let’s examine five essential elements to help a project manager maintain some semblance of control and to try to stay sane as well!

Buy cheap Cialis Soft 20 mg 1) Define your boundaries – It will be essential for YOU to define what the boundaries are for yourself and your team members. For example, are you willing to accept “x” hours of work each week with the stipulation that team members are allowed to telecommute “x”% of the time? Boundaries should be defined and written down as project standards or guidelines. Keep in mind, however, that standards must be adhered to and guidelines are recommendations. So if it needs to be a “must follow” rule – then it should be established as a standard to enable you to communicate with management if the standards are being violated. The project standards and guidelines need to be signed off and agreed upon with management. Ideally you should have your core team members help define what they think are reasonable boundaries to propose to management. This can help re-enforce buy-in with the team members – especially when things start to get rough.

Additional areas of consideration for boundaries are: Number of change requests allowed for the project, the minimum percentage of time you will receive from key team members each week (it could be different per person), prioritization of the triple constraints (scope, time, and resources) or the ability for the project manager to control one of the three triple constraints.

Having boundaries defined and documented will enable the project manager to understand what areas of control they DO have – as opposed to focusing on the things you don’t have control over. Defining boundaries is in everyone’s best interest. It is the responsibility of the project manager to monitor the boundaries and inform management if they are being violated (or about to be violated!) The ultimate goal is to have a quality product delivered and if boundaries are being violated it is highly likely the quality of the product will be compromised. If you don’t know what your limits are – then management will continue to request work from you and your team and you’ll have no basis to negotiate with them!

cheap Cialis Soft 20 mg USA 2) Know your top 3-5 issues. All projects have problems, but when things are “really nuts” it is especially important to know the big issues that are impacting your project. More often then not, the top issues are causing other problems within the project and when you address these top issues – other problems will go away as well!

If you attempt to address more than 3-5 issues – you will likely compromise your ability to stay focused and you’ll do 10 things poorly instead of 3-5 things well. Increase your success by narrowing your focus. As one issue is addressed – then you can add another issue to your “hit list” of the top 3-5 issues. You can also use this same approach for risk – focus on the top three. If you’re able to mitigate your top three potential risks this can have a significant positive impact on your project.

buy Cialis Soft 20 mg Sweden 3) Know what’s going well! One of the best lines in a movie came from Gene Krantz the Flight Director in Apollo 13. In the midst of all the chaos as the mission was in dire straights – Gene literally screams – “STOP – Tell me what’s working – we need to use what’s working to fix what is broken.” It changed the focus and resolve of his team – and is exactly what enabled the team of highly trained engineers to determine a method to get Apollo 13 and its crew back to earth safely.

Focus on what’s working on your project teams and gain leverage from them. Does someone have an especially good relationship with a key stakeholder that could help move the team forward? Is one area of the team working together well and producing quality deliverables in spite of everything else that is happening around them? If so – determine how this sub-team is operating to take advantage of their success. Make sure you also announce the “wins” to all team members and management so they can see the progress that is being made. We focus so much on the “bad news” these days that we need to remind ourselves of the successes – even if they are small. Team members need this positive boost to help them feel good about their results and feel acknowledged for what they are doing well.

Purchase generic Cialis Soft 20 mg 4) Rally as a team – We can’t always control what’s happening around us – but we can and should control what happens within our team. Just because there is a ton of chaos elsewhere in the organization – it doesn’t necessarily mean that your project has to operate in the same mode. It’s amazing to see how high performing teams can “rise above” many challenges and hurdles. When team members WANT to support each other and have a professional respect for one another – the “little things” don’t matter any longer.

So – how can we rally as a team?
• First – provide the vision for what the project is all about. Make sure the team understands the value and the purpose of the product to the business. Team members will work very hard when they know the outcome of their effort can help their company move forward. I call this having a “mission that matters.”
• Ensure everyone knows what they are accountable for – and hold them to it. All roles are important and serve a purpose.
• Attack problems – never the person.
• Have team norms defined describing how the team will interact together – include day-to-day activities such as daily communications via email vs. phone, status reporting expectations, and how the team is expected to help each other out when problems surface. Sometimes two people together can solve one problem – but three people individually can’t. Reinforce the expectations that team members need to help each other out – even if it means their assigned task is delayed because a higher priority item is being addressed.
• Be there for your team members. If they took a reasonable risk and it didn’t work out as desired – thank them for taking the risk and then learn from it as a team.
• Remind the team that they are as strong as the weakest link. If one person succeeds, but at the expense of another team member, then the team as a whole has been compromised.
• Ask team members to have professional respect for each other. They don’t have to “like each other” or even socialize outside of work, but they do need to appreciate the skills that each person brings to the team.

Buy online Cialis Soft 20 mg 5) Let your team know if you are totally stressed. This may seem “rather obvious” but it’s important to let your team know when you’re having an exceptionally rough day or week (I hope it’s not a whole month!). That way they’ll know to support YOU as best they can. This also enables the team to know that if you behave differently than normal (because most people change behaviors when we’re stressed) that it’s not because of something they are doing wrong. When team members see their project manager start to behave differently they know something is up – so you might as well tell them what’s going on so they don’t assume “the worst”. Let them know what you’re trying to do to address the problem. If the problem is confidential and you can’t share the details with the team, tell them you are working on a problem that is confidential and that you’ll inform them of the specifics as soon as you can. Again – if they see you behaving differently they will know something is going on so you owe it to your team to inform them to validate what they are seeing in your behavior. By doing this you will show your team members that you are human too and that as a TEAM you will get through the rough times together. If you’re really lucky – one of your team members may even have some ideas that you had not thought about that could even help solve the problem. Treat your team with professional respect and they will do the same to you.

Today’s work environment is often not fun – but that doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom. There ARE things we can and should control – specifically our core team behaviors and expectations of each other. By defining your project boundaries, understanding what your top issues are, leveraging what is going well, and rallying together as a team – you can move forward as an effective work group in spite of some of the “other things” that are happening in your organization. If you try to make the best of a not-so-good work environment, at the end of each day you can honestly say you did everything possible to move your team and your company forward.

Denise DeCarlo is President of Mindavation, a company providing project management training and consulting, leadership workshops and team building programs worldwide. Denise can be contacted via the web at or by calling 866-888-MIND (6463).


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