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Is negativity affecting your team?

It’s not new that people talk or write about how it’s important to be positive in every aspect of your life. There are also thousands of examples of how/why positivity can a great impact on your life whether it’s in your personal life or at work. However, we often overlook the impact negativity has on us, and everyone around us.

Online project management technology research and review site Software Advice recently let me know that they conducted an online survey of 1,552 adults to reveal whether people observed negative emotions at work, and whether this impacted their personal mood and performance.

Key findings of their report indicated that:  

  • 84% witnessed a co-worker exhibiting negative emotions with varying levels of frequency
  • 73% witnessed a manager exhibiting negative emotions with varying levels of frequency
  • 75% reported both their mood and productivity would be affected by negative emotions in the workplace

You can view the full report here.

As a project manager, why should I care?

There are two sides to why this is important to any project managers:

1. This negative impact means it affects your projects

If team members working on your projects are unmotivated by the negativity, this means that the quality of your project will suffer. It also means you can expect overage and lack of support when the going gets tough. This can have a dramatic effect on a project if it’s not controlled. Software Advice’s report states that productivity can be affected up to 40%; this is a huge impact on your projects.

2. As a leadership role, you can spread this negativity

This is really important because it means you have a lot of impact on your team’s emotions. Make sure you are aware if you are being negative, otherwise you may be causing damage to your team’s productivity without knowing it.

What can we do as project managers?

The most important thing you can do is always have a positive attitude. The positivity will spread and help fight negativity. Furthermore, if you are constantly positive, and you need to have a one-on-one talk with a negative member, it will be easier to convince him.

If a project gets tough (or ridiculous) and you need to vent, either do it far away from your team, or do it with a smile and laugh about it; turn the situation into something you can laugh at as a team. Believe me, it works a lot more than complaining!

If you don’t think you can handle the negativity by yourself, have others jump in (managers, directors, team leads, etc.) and ask them to spread positivity; it will spread a lot easier if many jump-in.

Software Advice mentions a few other tips that are very interesting, namely: Track Your Team’s Emotions, Promote Emotional Intelligence, Be Attentive to Anger, and Have One-on-One Conversations.

In conclusion

Negativity is something we all face one day or another; make sure it doesn’t come from you, and make sure to do your best to eliminate it from your team. You will then notice that your projects tend to execute a lot better.

Spread the positivity, have any tips? 🙂


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5 tips to help control your project’s budget

Controling your project’s budget can be challenging; there are many obstacles that can lower your budget’s health but there are many tactics you can use to keep it healthy.

Here a are a few tips to help:

1. Reduce scope

As simple as this may sound, we may be so focused on the client’s requests that considering to reduce scope skips our mind. However, often the scope includes lots of “nice to haves”, which means that your project could be just as successful without a few of the requested features .

By identifying and removing those “nice to haves”, you can reduce costs and focus on what’s really necessary.

2. Leverage past work

Leveraging work from other projects can save a lot of time in a new project. This is often an overlooked strategy and for 2 main reasons:

  1. Lack of visibility of what’s been done: We cannot be aware of everything that is available within an agency. Therefore, there may some parts of past projects that could be re-used that you are not aware of.In order to help with that, communicate with your colleagues, or search through the agency’s archives.
  2. Lack of actual available materials: Not everything that is created is made with flexibility in mind. This means that the chances you can re-use most elements can be very low. Creating something that is re-usable generally takes more time initially, and people will often use the faster path due to tight deadlines or simple lack of time. This approach is good for short term, but on the long term you can leverage less work.

3. Use experienced resources

Resources with more experience are bound to cost more, however, they will execute the work in less time. Furthermore, they will require less effort to manage them. All of this will save

Be mindful that depending of the work, experienced resources may not be motivated and render them less cost-effective; make sure it is interesting or challenging enough for them.

4. Reduce meetings

This one can be tough since people like to set meetings. They give the illusion of being productive when in reality they are known for the exact opposite; unproductive, and often useless. If you have regular status meetings with your team, consider reducing the amount and fill the gap with a few quick emails or maybe even just making sure whatever PM tool you use is updated properly and you can simply have a look.

If you do some quick math, imagine a weekly 1h meeting with your team consisting of 10 members. This goes on throughout your 6 month project. That’s 260h hours spent in meetings. Opinions vary but meetings are often up to 80-90% inefficient, this means that around 200h are potentially wasted on your project.

5. Use a smaller team

Smaller teams cost less and they are easier to manage. Furthermore, if no two people share the same role, than there is no need to spend additional time to make sure the team members do not overlap their work.

In order to be able to have a small team, this requires a realistic schedule that enables the team to work with a smaller velocity.


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4 tips to be diplomatic in tough conversations

Often you will be faced to tell someone something he may not want to hear, whether it’s a bad news, giving an answer to a question that you know will not please, or maybe it’s a last-minute request.

Regardless, there are many different ways to communicate this, some of which are more efficient than others. Here are some tips to help you deliver a message the right way:

1. Watch your facial expression and body language

One thing that can speak louder than words is your body language , so be careful how you look when you have something “tricky” to say or ask.

For example, avoid having a smile when you are announcing a bad news to someone; it may be because you are nervous, but you still need to be careful because it can greatly offend who you are talking to.

There are many things to consider when thinking about body language which will not be covered in this article, but a quick research on the web and you’ll easily find plenty of tips 🙂

2. Do not beat around the bush but balance it

If you have something to say, say it in a reasonnably short amount of time.  If you talk, and talk, and talk, and never get to the point, the person you are talking to may get irritated, more worried, or worst, and will be less likely to be open-minded about what you are going to say.

Do be careful and balance how you handle this; a short introduction or a small “Sorry but…” never hurts, if you cut everything to the bone and drop the bomb, you may also come as too abrupt.

3. Explain why

Receiving a bad news or a last-minute request is never really fun, but not knowing why it has to be that way can be even worst; take the time to explain the context and answer questions, this will help motivate or attenuate any negative feelings.

4. Listen, and care for the response

Most likely the person will want to explain/justify or even ventilate; whatever it is, part of being diplomatic is not only how you share the information but also how you are overall inside the conversation. If you do not care about what the person replies, or if you listen but give no follow-up answer, it will frustrate the other even more.

In conclusion

Diplomacy is very important and will help you in all the communication you are involved in. Take this seriously and the result may surprise you!


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Are you a micromanager?

Micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation.
Source: Wikipedia

Micromanagement often brings frustration, discomfort, and overall less efficiency within a team. It is something I strongly advise against doing, and hopefully this article can help you be aware if you have micromanagement tendencies, or even spot some of your colleagues.

Signs of a micromanager

Here below are but a few of the signs that can help you identify micromanagement:

Need to control everything
One of the top signs of micromanagement is the obsessive need to know/control everything. You feel like you need to be omnipresent and whatever details you are missing are considered failure or unacceptable.

This results in asking too many status reports from the team, constantly calling/emailing them for an update, and having no regards to disturbing people to find out whatever you think you need to know.

Behind your shoulder
When expecting a certain delivery and the due date is close, you may notice some people literally standing behind the person working, and simply waiting for that person to finish, even if it was clearly communicated that more than 5-10 minutes are needed.

Not only does this person annoy his colleague and frustrates him, but while he just stands there waiting, he is not doing anything productive and wasting precious time.

Poor delegation
Someone who needs to control everything will have a tendency to keep the work to himself since it’s easier to control and make sure it’s one ‘his way’. However, when he does delegate, he will dictate exactly how to do it, and if the colleague takes any liberty outside the directions, than the micromanager will tell him to adjust the work or take it back and adjust himself.

Why?

Lack of trust
If the micromanager does not trust the people he works with, either because it is justified or because he thinks he is superior to everyone, than the lack of trust it brings will make him act the way he does.

Because of another micromanager
Sometimes, thee micromanager is actually the one pulling the strings behind, and someone else if doing the micromanagement.

The micromanager hides in plain sight while having someone else take the fall. This can be a very uncomfortable position for the person stuck doing the work. I speak from experience here, believe me!

Obsessive need to control
Some people just have his need to control everything, regardless of what’s going on and with whom they are working. If they don’t control everything, they feel they are not doing their job correctly.

Few tips…

There are a few habits that you can develop that can help you with a micromanager:
Reports: Since they need to feel in control all the time, they feel the need to know everything that is going on, therefore, sending regular status reports (more than you normally would) or constantly adding him in ‘cc’ on mails will satisfy that need, and avoid having him over your shoulder to find out what’s happening.

Stick to your commitments: If you stick to your commitments, from delivering work to status reports on time, this will make you reliable to the micromanager, and the added trust this will give him will diminish his need to control you.

Surround yourself with great people: If you feel you are guilty about not trusting the people you work with, and assuming it’s justified, than it’s time you make a change and surround yourself with a team that delivers and you may find your micromanagement days going away.

Talk to him: This depends on the role you have versus the micromanager’s role, but talking one on one may help clarify a lot of things. Communication is the key, right? You may find out why he is acting that way, or you may make him aware of his behavior; you never know until you have a real open conversation.

In conclusion

Micromanagement is a type of management that needs to be avoided, whether you are guilty of it, or a colleague is, do your best to fix it.

Have you ever worked with a micromanager? Share your story!