Expectations are TOUGH. You need some of them but not too many of them and they need to be just above where you are, so you strive to be more but not too high and they need to be realistic, so you feel motivated. How in the world can you make that work? Especially as a matrixed project manager who doesn’t know these folks very well.
Expectations are CRITICAL. This is what gives your team the belief that they can do it. But, can also demotivate them if it feels out of reach or not presented with appropriate belief.
We talk about it all the time and we say we want it and need it. But what is it really?
At its core, it is a system where individuals are expected to do what they say they are going to do, there is a process in place that remembers what they said, and they are asked to provide their results when it is due. Sounds like a project plan and a ‘check off the boxes’ kind of project manager to me. Is that really what we want, and will it really meet our needs? If our only goal is to ‘get it done’ or ‘get it across the line’, then sure this will work, especially if the culture is reactive and focused on making money.
But, what if our goal is success? To go beyond expectations and delight our customers? Then what? Then, we would need a system that supports the individual, where expectations are just above what’s feasible, where the project plan is a road map, where the project manager is more like an orchestral conductor than a bean counter, where people are responsible for doing what they said they would do, and they want to do it.
Then I agree, we need that. We need a system of accountability.
There’s this mad rush every morning. People struggle to get out of bed, get ready, and race to work in rush hour traffic with millions of other people in every developed country. They arrive at their building and sit in their cube where there’s a long list of things to do – some worthwhile and most not. They don’t run the company, they aren’t in a corner office, and they never will be. It’s ‘just a paycheck’.
A few musings on a Tuesday morning:
Own it! Why are you here just for the paycheck? Make it better or move on.
Stop whining! Make it better or move on.
There are soo many emails – unless you need documentation, email is the WORST form of communication. Talk to people – engage with people. Make it better or move on.
Give a damn about your life and Make it better!
You are in charge of your life. Make it better – Make it matter – Make it count.
Returned to a old client to complete a Big Data conversion project. The architecture was bleeding edge technology and not working as expected, the team was drowning in nine different integration and testing environments, and the entire project lacked focused attention. Using only email for tracking per management: coordinated the releases into each environment, tracked the constantly changing purposes for each environment, and handled inconsistent management attention along with an aggressive timeline. All new deadlines were met without any further delays and the client was very happy.
WHAT?!?!?!? How does that help me? I’m working on slowing down now and I am finally seeing the results – it works! There are two things at play here:
One is how your brain works when it’s overwhelmed – it’s ineffective. Effectiveness comes from being focused and relaxed. Are you focused and relaxed when you’re overwhelmed? Yeah, neither am I.
The second thing at play is what are you working on? How do you know what’s the most important thing you should be doing? For me, I do a brain dump of everything I need to do ON PAPER. As I get it all out of my head, I categorize – family, house, boss, project, marketing, etc. Then, I look at 3 criteria for each – urgency, importance, and impact. This gets to the heart of why you need to slow down. These three criteria will find the assumptions you’re making about what is really a priority. But most importantly, it allows you to use your intuition on where you need to focus. (this is the gushy part: this is slowing down, this is living intentionally, this is mindfulness)
From here – you can make real decisions. What is the most urgent/important/impactful thing you need to be doing now, today, this week? What can you delegate? Once you answer those questions for yourself, you can get soo much done on your list. You’re free from anxiety as you work because you KNOW you’re doing the right thing.
Try it – it can’t hurt and it just might help you find that illusive balance.