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Expectations and Communication

Expectations can be good, but I’ve seen many times when they are a core problem. 

When your boss thinks you can code the next rocket into space, but you’ve only learned how to start the coffee maker….When you think you should be promoted but your boss thinks you’ve only barely learned to do your current job on your own….When you’re expected to answer 100 phone calls an hour, there’s only you, and each call lasts 5 minutes.….When you’re expected to smile every moment of your day, but you are coming down with the flu….You were hired to be the project manager but now you’re the personal assistant to the Vice President.

I could go on – these are all real and I’ve seen every one of them.

Communication, communication, communication.  It is the most important thing we need, and it is the most difficult thing to do.

If the expectations are off, then you must speak up.  Every day that they remain out of line, the gap widens as bitterness and the feelings of unfairness grow.  An easy first step is to write up what you see.  Be careful to use phrases such as “I believe” and “what I’ve seen” because you do not know everything, and you do not see everything.  Sleep on it, make sure there are no ‘very’, ‘never’, or ‘always’ and remove all the strong adjectives – they make everything harder. Then, send it off asking for some time on their calendar.  This method gives the other party time to adjust to what you want to say and what you want them to hear.  Most likely, they’re experiencing frustration too, so they need a moment to get past their own issues and begin to problem solve with you.

When you’re the most frustrated, it’s pretty much guaranteed to mean that there is critical information you don’t have.  This critical information will make everything make sense.  And that’s what you’re hoping to get.  In the process of finding out more information, the expectations will be identified, and most likely will get adjusted to become closer to reality.

In some cases, you’ll find out where your own lines are.  Maybe that VP is a narcissistic and you need to find a new job.  Maybe you’re the only one answering the calls because everyone else quit as your management is not concerned with your well-being.  It is always best to find these things out quickly especially as it will help reduce your own bitterness.

Communication, communication, communication.  It’s everything.

2018 in Review 2019 Plan

2018 review….2019 plan…  

2019 is my time to apply everything I’ve learned in my life – personally, professionally, and what I’ve learned from others.

I’ve been in transition for years now – 2018 isn’t that much different than 2017 or 2016 professionally.  Understanding who I am, what I’m good at, what I I see, how that helps, why it matters…It’s been an amazing, sometimes painful, journey.  I value friends more, I value myself more, I value connections more, I value chance encounters more, I value people more.  I value different looks, different perspectives, lots of tolerance, and listening – as well as hearing. 

I’m willing to change my stubbornness for the common good. I’m willing to sit still and just be.  While I’ve been insistent on being the first to admit when I’m wrong, I’m now willing to be wrong.  I’m willing to trust my instincts which makes them stronger.  I’m willing to ask more questions.  I’m willing to hear the answers and modify my thoughts accordingly. 

I’m ready to fly – truly fly.  Help people.  Help increase our chance of success.  Help grow.  Help nudge.  Lead.

Zombie Scrum – or any methodology

I just found out about Zombie Scrum and I had a great laugh!  Go ahead Google it – zombie scrum.  It’s hysterical and 100% true.

And it’s why I feel compelled to write.  It has a name now – ‘ZOMBIE PROJECT MANAGEMENT’.  It drives me insane – at all levels.

To be clear – this is not just about scrum and agile, this is about waterfall too and all hybrids.  This is equivalent to bean counters, box checkers, boring status meetings.  This should be at the VERY top of every ‘common project management mistakes’.  Going through the motions, no emotional intelligence, no foresight, no life, no caring.  That’s what this is really talking about – moving those stickies across the wall without giving a sh*t about what you’re doing or why.  Makes me so frustrated.

I LOVE the term Agile Coach.  What a great segue away from the mundane to something active and alive.  Waterfall is too old fashioned – for many reasons and at many levels but it’s not completely obsolete yet.  I’m not a huge proponent of Agile by the way – it has it failures too.   I am a proponent of do what’s needed in the situation you’re in – maybe it’s agile, maybe it’s waterfall, maybe it’s a hybrid, maybe it’s pure lean.  Take the time to see what is going on and pick the right process and methodology for the personalities/project/time you have to do it.

Be smart.  Be engaged.  Be caring.

DEADLINES – how to survive

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines…it’s a constant in our work life.  Mix those in with home life to do’s and mandatory schedules – ‘I promised a date with my spouse tonight’! How do we survive?!?!

I do two things:

1)      Acknowledge there are seasons or cycles to everything.  Marketing is going be busy in the fall.  Selling is going to be heavy in the holidays.  Accounting is every winter/spring.  Kiddo’s sports/events/theater is every spring and fall.  You get the picture.  Somethings will get caught in that crunch – be kind to yourself and others.  It’s expected if you’re in the right frame of mind.

2)      Prioritize based on those cycles. 

Life: If you’re a tax accountant, a vacation in February is not a great idea.  But one in May – much appreciated and much more enjoyable.  Kiddo’s game on April 14???? – talk about it ahead of time.  When cycles collide, have someone else clean the house, increase your budget for takeout, make extra meals before hand for easy lunches. 

Work: Despite what it may feel like, not all deadlines are real and not all deadlines need to be kept – this is the secret.  Which ones are not real and not needing to be kept are something you learn.  In the meantime, talk to your boss(es) and explain the constraints (not the family ones) and find out which ones can slip.

Bottom line – be open, be honest, see what’s ahead of you so you’re prepared.  Being hit by a Mac truck that you could have avoided completely sucks!!!  That’s why you have to slow down.

 

Culture

I was told once by a consultant who specialized in culture, that when she looked around everything pointed to culture as the problem and the solution.  I didn’t believe her.  I thought everything was about being productive and working together because that’s what mattered to me.

When I looked at what, how, why I do (Thank you to Simon Sinek), I found a system: What = Same Road, Same Time, Same Direction. How = I manipulate the fabric of team dynamics.  Why = Create Accountability.

When I put it all that together and saw the system I create – you can’t have a system of positive accountability unless you have a positive culture that supports it. 

The reason I can turn projects around, even ones that are going up in flames, is that I change the micro culture of the project and create a system of accountability.

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