How to Say Goodbye

At “Making Project Management Better Blog”, Alec Satin has written an insightful strategies to deal with team members leaving. This can become uncomfortable and can be awkward if you are leaving company or you have team members leaving through reduction efforts or projects ending or have been cancelled. Read the article on How to Say Goodbye. Above all keep a positive attitude even if the reasons are confusing and you are feeling hurt that you were chosen. Be respectful to colleagues as you would want to be treated as your relationships are important for future opportunities.

Working in large organizations, these situations are common and people deserve to be celebrated for their commitment and dedication to the project while they were on it. Jobs aren’t guaranteed or controllable, but you can choose your attitude and response to tough situations.  Goodbyes are tough and can be traumatic for person leaving as well as those left to deal with aftershocks. Communicate openly, do what you can to transfer info, make a plan to stay connected, follow through on what  you say you will.  Leave with the legacy you want to be remembered for and not a reactive response that does not serve you professionally.

Please share other ideas and strategies you have used to manage through the tough goodbyes.


Project Tips: Motivating Your Team

Motivating your team

On the Project Shrink website is a useful article on motivating your team members. Step one is your own motivation which I agree with. A discouraged PM is hard to follow and its important to do what you need to do to keep motivated and moving quickly

Project Tips: Managing Your Emotions

Managing our emotions is one of those basics. Its something that influences your effectiveness as a manager and a project manager. We all have a different style of dealing with conflict and adapt in situations. One of the most important elements is staying in control of your emotions. There are times all of us want to lash out at our superiors or peers for violating our boundaries, not “getting it”, interfering with our projects, crossing the line, stepping behind our backs, taking advantage of our absence and simply playing the old business game. You might be asking “why?”, so let me explain some of my learnings. I have learned by being in the trenches and still working at it every day. This is an important factor and relates to earlier posting on building trust in your team and relationships.

It is a crucial skill to master as a high performing project manager or manager. It is so easy to be caught up by our own feelings. This can lead to words said you regret later or short sighted decisions being made that you want to undo later. Emotions drive our actions so if you can control your emotions you can take deliberate and more effective actions. This requires the ability to reflect and objectively evaluate how you feel and work to achieve optimal results for your project and business.

So what can you do? Stay focused on the important things. Some issues the best course of action is to let it go. If you are in a hot situation there are a few things you can do to stay calm and collected. Here are a few tips to stay in control during those highly charged conversations.

Don’t speak if you can avoid it. Let others do the talking and carefully listen to issues at hand. Delay your reaction. Don’t let what someone says to you encourage the wrong reaction. The importance of think before you speak cannot be over emphasised. You should choose your words carefully when you speak, ensuring that you don’t hurt the sentiments of the person opposite you. You can later analyze the situation and find the solutions to what bothered you.

Stay focused on the outcome that is needed. Focus on the issues and not the emotion or attacks that might be expressed in frustration.

Be aware of your trigger points. If there are specific individuals that evoke more feelings, than be even more cautious about tone of voice and what is communicated.

– Learn from your responses and the reactions they cause in others. Constantly evaluate how you might respond differently. What would have been a better way to communicate. This is how you can continue to improve as it takes practice and application to get better over time.

Acknowledge rather than agree. It is possible to acknowledge that someone has a different point-of-view than you have without agreeing with their point-of-view. It is important that others feel heard, that you understand what their position is.

Find an outlet outside of work to express emotions. For me this is working out. By doing physical activity, I let the frustration go and can be more productive. It could be running, shopping, spending time with your family. Find what it is for you and know when to use it

These are a few fundamentals that will help you succeed at those critical conversations through the course of your projects. If you follow these simple tips, you will succeed at what you want to. Keeping a rein on your emotions while at work goes a long way in achieving healthier relations. It will also bring professional growth. Its critical to your project and critical to your success and reputation!

How to be an Enterprising Project Manager

Imagine what you could accomplish if you never quit and always did all that you could do to get your project done. It requires being enterprising.

What does enterprising mean?

In Unabridged (v 1.1), enterprising is defined as


ready to undertake projects of importance or difficulty, or untried schemes; energetic in carrying out any undertaking: Business is in need of enterprising young people.


characterized by great imagination or initiative: an enterprising foreign policy.

An Ant is a great example of being Enterprising. On a hike once, I observed this massive trail of ants industriously working. As you lay a stick across their trail or put your foot there you quickly observe that they immediately begin to go around over or create a new way to continue their work. You put another obstacle in the way, they quickly adapt again and find a new way. They NEVER give up. They always persist to find a new way and blaze a new trail. As a PM, that is the attitude it takes. Being a quick change artist, being persistent and enterprising will develop and help you deliver successful projects. In considering how you could do better, it requires constructive evaluation, asking sponsors and team to share info with you along the way.

I think it is important to push forward and drive projects as much as possible and requires you doing the best that you can. Being an enterprising project manager, will require dedication, quick to seize opportunities, solve problems and be disciplined. In each project, you have the same amount of time in everyday. So if you are working in your project, even an average 8 hour day you want to make the most of every minute. So how can you do that? Think of people around you, think of people in office, on the news who manage to push forward and succeed despite the most incredible obstacles. Ron Pausch is one of those people I saw in the news, a young child at Shriners recovering horrific burns are a few that come to mind that working hard everyday to make the most of every minute. They are quick to seize opportunities regardless of anything else.

As a PM, the worst message is “no” and it happens all the time. It is the role of asking people on your team, at vendors, other organizations to make things happen and get the work done. It requires developing a plan, revising your plans, following your plan, modifying approach and always being ready to attack problems. Its an attitude of regardless what comes up, having the attitude of “what can I do to make this work”. As the leader, you work to push forward with that clear picture in your head of what success for the project is and taking the steps along the way to stay on track towards that goal.

The difference between success and failure can be very small. Successful PM’s may often work harder but most importantly they are using a variety of tools to work smarter which is more important. One area to evaluate is how you use your time, do you spend time micromanaging or spend time getting the very best resource on your team who is competent to complete work without taking your time. It is important to make use of every hour and really drive the day rather than get pulled to each crisis that others in the team should really be resolving. You need to run your project and you need to run your day. You need to If you can boost effectiveness of time 20% every year, you can double your productivity every few years. Enterprising project managers will drive project activities with clear goals. This can be done by planning the next day at the end of the day, planning week and making minor adjustments as work progresses.

Don’t mistake trivial activity for productivity. You probably know some people who always seem to be busy being busy. To be a successful PM, you need to spend time on the productive activities. Its important to not mistake the junk that is trivial with actions on strategic activities results producing high payoff activities. If you spend time on activities, others can and should be doing its costing you a lot as you are not doing that other activity. Focus on your highest value activities and be relentless at asking “what is the highest and best use of my time?”

Another key is to prioritize and focus relentlessly. Assuming that you have picked your high payoff, high leverage activities you have a clear focus. Staying focused is easier said than done. It takes discipline to stay on track and create boundaries when you need them. This can be as simple as logging off email and scheduling time to more quickly go through at end of day. It could mean not logging on till key deliverables are done in the morning.

Every time we choose to do less than we possibly can and model that within the project team, we limit our possibilities, potential and results for your project. You can alter your project results by doing a little more each day to work smarter. So take the example of the ant and keep your head and find that alternative to deliver your projects!

How to Build Trust: Keeping Your Commitments

Want to know the quickest way to destroy trust?

Violate your promises. The Big Big item in every relationship is to “do what you say you are going to”. It can be with your boss, employees, team member, customer, supplier, spouse, friend, child or anyone you encounter. Keeping your commitments is paramount to building trust!

What happens when you make a commitment? You build hope, when you say you will do something and you build trust when you do it. Think about this before tossing out “I will…” The flip side is being so vague that nobody can get you to agree to anything, this is damaging too. Be courageous and willing to give your word and follow through with it.

This might appear to be common sense, but what is common sense is not always common behavior. How to break the declining trust. Decide how you will live and continue to make it different in your behavior and example towards others.

5 Steps you can take to move forward

1. Focus on your capability to repeat a pattern of actions that tell people “you do what you say”. The more you become aware, the more you will make the better choices.

2. If you make too many commitments and are overextending yourself, than start to prioritize and reduce by saying “no”.

3. Make deposits into the bank – the emotional bank account as you implement. Say – Do – Follow through and you will notice how you are building the Trust Bank Account.

4. Next time you have to make a commitment. Stop and ask, is this realistic? Its better to disappoint someone its easier to do at the beginning than when time is running out. Make sure you repeat the pattern of doing what you commit to.

5. Recognize the trust you build at home is one of the most important areas. If you are single, its with the 5 people you are around most. If you live with family, its those people in your house. Pay attention to how you communicate and how people expect you to behave once you say it.

How Trust Works

Whatever your situation, you need to get good at establishing trust. This starts with learning as much as you can about how it works.

Some questions to ponder, who do you trust? Someone at home? At work? A Parent? A friend? What has transpired to establish trust between you and that individual? In my personal relationships it is a matter of character and behavior. At work it is often competence and track record. You need to decide what is critical to you.

In reality, it is really character and competence that permeate the relationship and contribute to establishing trust.

Do you know what “Making Things Happen” is about?

My purpose of this blog is to be a place to dialogue on topics and solutions to implement and accelerate your results, make projects more productive, breakthrough roadblocks and build support when needed. I hope you will share experiences and strategies as we move through the journey of life. The primary areas you will read about are program management, project life, performance improvement, people strategies and how to ideas.

Life is a BIG project I love experiencing everyday and I want to live it to the max. Your projects are your legacy so make them a masterpiece by how and when you complete personal and professional projects. You can define how you play, so get off the sidelines and into the game. All the projects you deliver and what you decide not to do define your journey. Make them count. Deliver projects with big payoff!

New Adventures

Hi, My name is Amy. I am excited to begin sharing the journey of  getting work accomplished. There is a common element to life and to the field of PM’s that is all about getting projects done. While there is much available on the skills part of it, the real art and innovation comes in the challenge of acceleration of work, rescuing the failing project, getting unstuck and managing a turn around to meet the goal. How you shape the work you manage into programs or projects, it is key to take careful consideration for what is decided and how you pursue the work. There are many theories and practical ways. My focus is on the savvy ways to reach those “High Payoff Results” faster, with less cost and less resistance along the way. My learning is through the amazing mentors, your experiences and stories that I hope you will share. This is a dialogue so please ask questions and I would like your opinions and ideas so we can build the know how and power we have to delivering results for clients, customers or your boss. It requires that innovative thinking to not pursue the same strategies and methods and seek the high road when challenges come. I wish you massive success in all your life projects!