Don’t brag about your accomplishments

Captura2Hey there, just getting back to this blogging stuff. Looks like I had an inspirational crisis, then I took a look at the stats on my blog and realized I had plenty of visits last month. So, I want to go back and share some funny experiences about Happy Project Management. This time I will talk about bragging about the things you’ve done.

Recently, our project team was publicly recognized for a great accomplishment in a project that made a huge difference for one of our biggest customers. This publication brought joy and happiness to all. This accomplishment was published and it followed a series of happy events during the current year, but I’ll talk about all those later, since I don’t like bragging.

Let me tell you; this project was really painful, it burned a couple of guys down, from both our team and the customer’s team. But eventually, we were able to save it not once, but twice. And it looks like we’ll be around for some time. Cheers!

I thanked the team, we congratulated each other and enjoyed these milliseconds of joy. Well, at least the few of us that were still standing and were still part of the project, we lost some soldiers along the battle. At the end, this moment was bittersweet. Why? Because most of the people have issues enjoying accomplishments, moments of happiness, and even closing deals. We are not used to success, we feel uncomfortable and awkward when this happens, our mind is prepared to deal with failure, but not with success. Specially when managing projects, we tend to remember those awry projects more often than the good ones. Take a look at these conversations I’m sure you have often:

-Hey, do you remember the eagle project?

-I hated that project, it was really bad

-Hey, do you remember the gray project? We finished on time, very few problems…

-Not really… what was it about?

People enjoy being bitter, believe me, they do. Always. They like to know things are going bad so they can blame on somebody, so they can steal the thunder of your milliseconds of Joy, so they can remind you later how bad your other projects are. Well, the bad news is that you won’t be able to change this mindset, you rarely will get warmth words, so, don’t expect them. Just be sure to take some time (two milliseconds) and enjoy your accomplishments, just don’t brag about them. And be prepared for everybody to forget about it.

Don’t brag about your accomplishments, just be sure everybody knows about them.

TTYL, Leave your comments, follow me on twitter @luishectordiaz to read short thoughts and #PMPhrases

Don’t trust anybody

CapturaI’m a movie enthusiast. I’m sure most of the movies I see end up being bad ones. But I still think we can gather experiences for Happy Project Management. It’s 1989, Lock Up, a Sylvester Stallone vehicle about him trying to purge the last few months of his conviction. Eventually he leads a small group of misfits and starts working on a couple of “projects” together, one of them was rebuilding a ’65 Mustang owned by the prison and the other one was the actual prison break.

One of the project team members told Stallone that there’s only one rule: DTA, “Don’t trust anybody”. Another project member was so committed to the Mustang project, that at some point he started thinking that the he would own the Mustang instead of just delivering it. Let me tell you, (spoilers ahead) that both projects failed. The prison break was frustrated by the DTA guy himself. The Mustang project was delivered on time but was destroyed by the prison guards, the Mustang guy died.

Our PM (Stallone) failed. He did not listen to the DTA guy, he should have kept a closer eye on him, and everyone else. The PM also failed telling the Mustang guy he was NOT the customer. Our PM failed on understanding the customer needs, the prison guards did not want the Mustang to be rebuilt. Bummer.

We all have DTA guys in our teams, in our projects, everywhere. And they exercise everyday, they don’t trust you or any of the project team members. They will be questioning you and finding ways to sabotage the project. And they will do backstabbing at every chance and listen to other DTA guys, they detect each other. I’m also sure we all have seen Mustang guys in our teams, thinking they own the project, that they know what the customer wants and that their needs are more important than the customers’. They even think they are the customer. They are also telling you everyday that your project sucks because they are not happy.

Well, at the end, they are all wrong, do you want to be a Happy Project Manager?

-Trust your team mates, but keep a close eye on them, make them feel confident and they will deliver, be confident yourself that they will deliver. And if they won’t, make sure you’ll know ahead and that they come clean about delays.

-If you are not the customer, be sure that you don’t put your needs over the customers’, and make sure none of your team mates do.

About the DTA and Mustang guys, you will never get rid of them. Bummer.

TTYL

Nobody will read your meeting minutes

shred-icon2Hello. Today, I’m resuming my stranded blogger activity. I will address the debated “meeting minutes” subject today and how they can help us in Happy Project Management. I have worked for many managers, customers, sponsors, project teams and using many flavors of methodologies, but hang on, we’ll talk about PM methodologies in a future blog.

Meeting minutes. PMI says this is push communication. There’s not a consensus about meeting minutes (layout, frequency,etc ) as long as you write them and of course, publish them. Some time ago, I used to generate extensive and detailed minutes until one day my boss called me and asked me “man, are you sure somebody is actually reading your minutes? how much feedback are you getting?” Then I realized that on weekly status meetings, even on large projects with large audiences (18 people) only 5 people replied to my emails making comments on a monthly basis, roughly 7% of total possible feedback. Why? At that particular time I was working for a large organization in an even larger company, most of the technical leaders and key members where handling an average of 8 concurrent projects besides their regular operation. That means that they were already spending at least 16 hours in project meetings. Do yo think they wanted to spend more time reading an extensive and exhausting document? Is not that they didn’t want to, it was a burden on their already over allocated agendas. I reckon I skipped reading them sometimes. Then I went through a couple of old minutes and I opened the can of worms. The most common issue was misspellings, tons of them; then I found no list of attendees, dates, agreements, action items, issues. That means that nobody was reading them, nobody was paying attention.

So, should you send scarcer, briefer, shorter minutes or with less frequency? Is that going to save 30 minutes of your time and make you a happy Project Manager? Should you say “well, nothing happened in the meeting, so, I won’t send a minute, I’ll save some time”.

No way, never. I can assure you that not writing and sending  a minute will come back and haunt you at some point. You must not stop sending them, always send them after every single meeting, call or small agreement you make. If nothing happened in the meeting, be sure to make a minute that says who attended, who did not and that really “nothing” happened on that meeting. I guarantee this will save your ass and make you a Happy Project Manager. When somebody comes back, yell at you and complain, you will be able to tell them: “Did you read the minute? You should have…” 

Nobody will read your meeting minutes, but be sure to send them.

TTYL