Inspired Project Teams

Enduring Wisdom & Guided Challenges to Help Project Teams Achieve Their Best

  • Apr 28

    Image: Authority & Responsibility in Balance (scales)Remember the first time you were trusted — truly trusted — to act on behalf of someone? Maybe it was babysitting your kid brother so your parents could have that special night out or taking care of your aunt’s favorite plants and her beloved old dog while she went on vacation.  You know the kind of trust I’m talking about: the kind that weighs on you a little and causes you to take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I can do this! This is really important and I can do this!” Remember what that felt like the first time you experienced it?

    That kind of trust can be a powerful motivator. And it can be even more compelling when it’s accompanied by the full authority— money, tools, decision-making power — to take action.  Feeling the responsiblity for handling an important job and knowing you have the authority to make things happen somehow helps you stand a little taller and strengthens your resolve to do great work — to prove that the trust isn’t misplaced. So, in the end, trusting people completely can inspire them to do their best.

    So You Say You Trust Me? Prove It!

    To clarify, it’s not enough for you to say, “I trust you to do this job” and then withhold meaningful authority by requiring me to ask your permission to make simple decisions or by forcing me to beg for resources to get the job done. No. If you really trust me to do the job, then you’ll give me the full authority (decision-making power, money, tools, people, etc.) that enables me to do it. By granting me this breadth of authority, you prove that you trust me. And, given that proof, I will be more likely to work hard to ensure that your trust hasn’t been misplaced.

    This balance between authority and responsibility is an important component of all sorts of human relationships. When we strive for and maintain this balance, we ultimately prove that we respect the dignity of those whom we’ve tasked with doing a job. In ethical terms, getting this balance right is simply the fair and decent thing to do!  Whether the work to be done is within the context of your family, a formal work team in an organization or society at large, it’s critical to achieve. This little video illustrates:

    Greer’s Challenges

    The questions below can help you make practical use of these ideas.

    Reflections

    Reflect on these questions:

    • Are you conscious of the authority/responsibility balance when you assign work to team members?
    • Do you have enough authority to do all the chores assigned to you? (If not, how might you get this authority?)
    • What specific actions could you take on behalf of your project team or yourself to better balance the authority and responsibilities of everyone working on your projects?
    Team Challenges 

    Ask your team:

    • Do you feel adequately empowered to do the work assigned to you? (If not, what additional power or resources do you need?)
    • Do you recall any specific situations in which you lacked adequate authority (resources or power) to do your job? (If so, what can we do to prevent this from happening again?)
    Project Manager Challenges 
    • Make certain that everyone on your project team has the power to get and use all the resources they need to do their assigned tasks.
    • Make certain that everyone on your project team has the power to make all the routine decisions necessary to keep from getting “stuck.”
    • Make sure you don’t micromanage your team.
    • If you are currently being micromanaged by your senior managers or don’t have enough authority to make key decisions to keep your project moving or lack the resources (people, tools, money, etc) to get good results, then resolve to do what you need to do (have that “tough talk” or confront that difficult senior manager) and get your authority and responsibility in balance!

    Learn More…

    Check out these related Inspired Project Teams posts/podcasts:

  • Feb 27

    Realtor selling house with modelOne of the toughest, but most mission-critical, responsibilities of a project manager is to get people excited about the project before there is anything to show. We ask potential champions to engage and connect with something that isn’t yet real — something that exists as a concept only. Once they “buy in” and become enthusiastic, they can rally the support of their colleagues, help to pull together project funding and open the doors to key SMEs and gatekeepers. But how can we inspire support for a non-existent finished product?

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Dec 27

    Images from "Forgive Them..." & "Meditation Fact Sheet" posts

    In case you missed them, here the five blog posts I wrote for this website in 2013 that meant the most to me. And even if you’ve already seen them, they may be worth a second look. Happy New Year!

    Bonus… A Freebie!

  • Nov 21

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt is from “Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy” in The Project Management Minimalist]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    “Interruption is the enemy of productivity…Those taps on the shoulder and little impromptu get-togethers may seem harmless, but they’re actually corrosive to productivity. Interruption is not collaboration, it’s just interruption. [These] break your work day into a series of ‘work moments.’”  — Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson in Rework: A Better, Easier Way to Succeed in Business

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Sep 11

    Image: project team motivational session

    These days most organizations are operating with the smallest possible number of employees. This means that project managers routinely find themselves having to reach beyond their organization’s “official” employee roster to find team members. And frequently this means acquiring volunteers — team members who can’t be paid or given any tangible compensation for their efforts.  But if you can’t pay them or provide any material compensation, how can you reward volunteers for their work? And, more importantly, how can you keep them motivated to do a good job and to join your project team the next time you need them?

    Below are three broad strategies for rewarding and motivating volunteers.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Apr 29

    I’m calling this article a “fact sheet.” That’s because instead of the usual paragraphs and paragraphs of prose, I’m providing a condensed summary of the following:

    • The Proven Benefits of Meditation (scientifically studied & reported in respected journals)
    • A Who’s Who of  Meditators & Organizations Who Encourage Meditation

    To create this fact sheet, I’ve culled information from several bloggers, book authors, and websites. I’ve included links to all these so you can easily go to the original source for further details.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Mar 31

    Are you under pressure to produce some sort of creative output? Are you feeling “dried up” or empty? Do you find yourself staring into space and mumbling “I got nothin’!!” ??  Do you wonder how some people seem to be consistently productive while you keep having these “dry spells?” In this article I’m going to share the simple, down-to-earth practices I use to keep the articles, videos and podcasts flowing.

    Everyone is Creative… Everyone!

    The truth is, everyone is creative. Period. Everyone gets ideas, sees unique connections, has insights, comes up with unusual ideas. But why do some people seem to produce more creative output than others? The answer is they leverage their creativity. They nurture it. They capture the shimmering bubbles that float into their consciousness before they can pop or drift away. They treat these like the magical gifts that they are and they maximize them by employing some fairly mundane, everyday practices. Here are my favorites:

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Jan 29

    Image: Kid laughing at bubbles

    “Meditation is warm-up exercise for the mind, so that you can jog through the rest of the day without getting agitated or spraining your patience.” — Eknath Easwaran in Conquest of Mind via Brian Johnson’s PhilosophersNotes 

    _______________

    Mindfulness Meditation & Mental Soap Bubbles

    Mindfulness is, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, without judgment.” 

    As you are learning to practice mindfulness or meditate mindfully, Kabat-Zinn recommends a “light touch when you are confronted with stray thoughts that try to distract you.  You simply look at these thoughts as they rise up, notice them, and watch them drift away and pop like soap bubbles. You might say something like this to yourself: “Oh there it goes. I’m worrying… worrying.” Or “There’s another. I’m thinking and remembering,” and so on.  What happens when you apply this “light touch” is that the thoughts just bubble up, drift around, and vanish. You don’t engage them in a battle, you don’t give them power, and they simply disappear.

    As I noted in my podcast Practice Mindfulness, Kabat-Zinn’s advice to apply a “light touch” to intruding thoughts and his image of soap bubbles popping is the most useful guidance I ever received regarding meditation. Before I acquired this frame of reference I would waste half my meditation time trying to force myself to concentrate while simultaneously gritting my teeth and battling mental intruders. Instead of bringing peace, my meditation time was a kind of silent warfare.

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  • Dec 30
    Image from post: Are You Clinging to Your Mummified Past?

    From post: Are You Clinging to Your Mummified Past?

    In case you missed them, here the five blog posts I wrote for this website in 2012 that meant the most to me. And if you’ve already seen these, they may be worth a second look. Happy New Year!

  • May 30

    Not long ago I reconnected with Tom Fitzsimmons, an old high school buddy, on Facebook. I hadn’t been in contact with him since graduation. After exchanging the usual catch-up messages, we began routinely following each others’ posts.  It wasn’t long until I realized two things about the man my friend had become over the years.

    First, he had developed a uniquely gentle wisdom. When he left a comment in reaction to someone’s post it was almost always positive, supportive, and delivered with an invisible, between-the-lines smile of encouragement.

    Second, his many years of working, raising family, surviving struggles, and observing his country going through changes and upheavals had left him with some powerful insights. And he usually presented these insights quite logically, with respect for any opposing points of view, and almost always flavored with a twist of optimism and enthusiasm.

    Go to blog post at A Day in My Life

    Tom's Unique Tribute to a Friend

    Read the rest of this entry »

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