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Project Managers Fundamentals

If a Project Manager is serving something to his/her customers around; it is pretty certain that he/she must have certain fundamentals. All you may have familiar with Scope, Cost, Time triplet which leads performance or quality of a project or a product coming out as a result of project development process. But, it is not fair to tell something about fundamentals of a project manager, which may cause an epic failure in his/her management career. Fundamental is a known thing. It is like a footballer cannot stop the ball well enough, or an HR specialist who does not listen people in his account, or a senior manager who makes micro management and loosing focus. So, I want to make a list of qualities, a project manager must have:

Organizing Meetings: Agenda, Locations, Time, Attenders, Type of Attendance are key aspects of meetings. You must share an open agenda beforehand. By “open” I mean update-able/correctable list of things in the agenda. Place must be stated before, which means you need to make reservations beforehand. It is hard to check in rooms in last days in many organizations, you must find a way of overcoming this issue, for example making reservations one or two weeks before, despite you have not got any meeting ahead. You can give away your room reservation if you do not need to use it. For multi-location meetings you need agents or friends in other locations for finding rooms. Starting time of meeting is very important, you must be aware of organizational culture. Try to start on time, and if you have doubts about the attendance, send last minute updates like “We are starting our meeting…” Also, you can call the key attenders in advance, in order to be sure about their time of attendance. Even, using sponsor power for attendance can be needed for tough attenders. Recent years come with alternative technologies for attending meetings like phone call, video conference, lync, etc. Choosing the type of attendance needs more attention. Let’s have a look to these types…

An astute project manager must choose best way of attendance type. If a project manager is trying to meet 3 people with a call conference, it could be understandable. But, if you try this for 10 people, you need to worry about what you are doing. Do not tell me that, technology allows this, and it is an option. You must think of using videoconferencing, or dividing the attenders and agenda, according to focus areas of people. It is also a common mistake that adding people to teleconference is not one-way thing. I mean as a project manager you are calling someone, after figuring out that he is busy and you are eventually passing to another attender, and because your line is busy at that time the first called person may not attend to conference because you are not aware of incoming call. Can it be? Sure… If your phone is not showing incoming calls while your telephone is busy. In Turkish there is a saying in this situation, “Get well soon!”. So, you must take care of your attenders. Small things can cause big things, you must think in details.


Applying Correct Communication
Types: A wise project manager must
choose best way of communication. If you
adaptable to or aware of culture and technology, you are lucky. Company/country culture may play a great role for choosing the best way of communication. As everyone suggests use emails for making commitments or distributing the agreed topics in meetings. Use emails if you are certain that you really need it. Call your colleagues, why bother them to understand your email that you write in 20 mins, and needs another 20 mins for replying. In most of the cases talking solves the problems. Being native with other members of project team does not mean you are in same working culture. You may miss the opportunity of clues of success which may only possible via effective way of communication. A tea or coffee may solve your problems which may worth million dollars.

Escalation Skills: I have cases that people who are reporting to me, have escalations, in which they do not do everything and want to escalate this immature thing. I just say, do you want me to do your work.

Please, investigate your escalation need, if you are escalating a situation that you do not think or work on it, it will be inevitable that you will be assessed with your perception and skills.If not, in this case assessors skills must me assessed:) Escalation goal is also important. Why do you escalate, for punishing someone. Definitely no! Do you know that escalation can also be a way presenting or showing someone’s or team’s work or risk taking. By escalating or highlighting an issue you are playing a great role if you think like that. For example, we had a case with operation team that, they did not want to open a feature in an equipment, which may lead saturation  problems in the future. What did they tell me? Escalate this, in order to make them understandable by marketing guys. We could make it, you are causing something that you do not wan to be. What happened, we did not open that feature and marketing guys ware persuaded for more expenditures/investment for the product.

Being positive: Be positive about people! If there is human there may be errors and malfunctions. Appreciate for success, appreciate for five nines availability. Do not stuck on 0,001 failure… When is the last time you had thanked someone about his/her work. You will win if you could understand people… You cannot get something from a person, or make efficient communication; if you do not know about him/her. Look, listen, and try to be positive in order to be perceptive.

You must continually sharpen your fundamentals. Remember a common saying:  “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger!”

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