Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Daily Post #13: Ways you can add value

A meaningful life is not being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect... It's about being real, being humble, being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others.  It is only then that we could have a full, happy and content life.

Ways you can add value
Being the new person.  Many times in my life I have been the new person on the block at work and as volunteer for organizations, etc.  In 2009, I decided to start getting more involved in volunteer organizations.  The first in-person meeting I remember when I walked into the room a hush came over the room. Everyone stopped talking and just stared. They were sizing me up, trying to get a sense of whether I deserved their respect or ridicule. That’s a tough spot for anyone to be in.  At the time, I was quickly able to bring some of my skills to the table, and prove I deserved to be valued.  I was pretty good at taking notes.  I did well organizing the kayos. And I had experience building team, so, I quickly fit in because they valued these skills.

At times as a Project Manager I relive the same awkward experience whenever I start with a new company or a new group of people.  I get the same stares and know everyone is sizing me up at the first meeting.  I walk into the room and the leader says, “Today we’d like to welcome Kim she’s our new project manager and will be heading up some of our key initiatives from this point forward.”  I can feel the hush come over the room as the adults at the table whisper to each other and decide whether they are going to respect or ridicule me. 

Just like in those awkward situations, I brought a few skills with me to quickly give value to the people I work with.  As a seasoned project manager, I am in a much better place because I have decades to prove myself in other companies and other projects.  I have a level of confidence that will push through those awkward first couple of weeks as everyone tries to figure me out.  

Here's some advice:
As a new project manager (or new to the profession or new to a company), it is important to bring immediate value.  You know what your value is going to be long term:

·         You are going to have project schedules in place
·         Status meetings
·         Work breakdown structures
·         Risk management
·         Time tracking
·         Reporting
·         All kinds of other crafts of trade to the table

These long term skills can take anywhere from six months to a year to really get up and running.

What can you do in the short term? That will bring immediate value to the new team?

Serve as the document repository – Teams often struggle with keeping up on documentation that surrounds the project.  Sometimes there is no documentation for the project or the documentation is unwieldy outdated.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to get your hands around a project and bring some organization to the team.  Here are a few steps, first establish the number of required documents a project must have.  Examples could include:
  • Project Charter Contract (if it is client-paying work) 
  • Design Document 
  • Business Requirements 
  • Project Schedule 
  • Fill in gaps as needed
Run interference and help prioritize – help prioritize which activity is most important to get done.  There are times when people, in most companies, without project managers are thrown tasks at whim by anyone above them on the org chart.  A VP from one department may ask for something he/she needs completed by next week, then a top-level salesperson may ask you to drop everything to finish his work because he is behind and the marketing department may ask the same person to focus on a prototype that needs to be shown at a trade show next month.    Set yourself up as a point person between the business and the production side of the company.  This setup will allow people to take direction from one person (you) or at most two people (you and their functional manager).

Put a Change Control Process in place immediately – having a change control process in place that will manage change on projects will help alleviate disaster.  People have short-term memories and may forget that decisions change the direction of the project and makes a short-term project a very long time to complete.  Managing a simple change control document that includes the change, reason for change, estimate time to complete the change and who approves the change (like a sign off).  This will help bring you into the fold of the team quickly.

If you do these three simple things you gain respect in the short term as a project manager.  And you can buy more time to roll out the bigger plans.   

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