In Part I we established key habits to help us gain a positive mindset. Being mindful of how we think and act, ensuring our communications always have value, and thinking differently and simplifying where we can.
Part II continues by looking at how we can keep our growing workload organized (one of the biggest areas for frustration in our lives), make our presentations effective so people easily get onboard with what we’re saying, help others maintain a positive mindset, and finally, how it all comes together when faced with stressful situations.
To get the most from the series I encourage you to visit the posts for each tip, links provided below, and read through the practical advice in the comments or join in the conversation.
Technical Tips #5: Use natural language in your definitions and presentations.
The goal is for our audience to understand and relate to the message we’re sending. When we can relate to the information we’ve been sent, verbal or written, and it makes sense, we’re going to be open to trying that new process or abiding by the new policy, for example.
Simplicity is the language of the wise. If you want to be understood, you have to talk simply, naturally and nicely.Falguni Katira
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: How do you keep your presentations easy to understand?
- Emily Ann: I am very mindful of my rhythm. Speaking too fast does not help people have a pleasant experience nor grasp what your saying
- Elizabeth: Keeping the message simple and easy to understand shows good communication skills, as well as opens up the dialogue for further development of ideas.
- Roseanne: Again it comes down to knowing your audience. If you’re a doctor, speaking to doctors, about a particular procedure, then medical terminology is prob appropriate. But if you’re the Health Minister, speaking to the masses about COViD, you’re going to need to keep it simple and clear so everyone knows exactly what to do, and what not to do.
- Michelle: Approachable. That’s how I think about it. Equality in language, tone and tempo is like the round table of conversation.
- Rob: Nothing worse than a load of jargon. I tell clients to present as though their grandmother is trying to comprehend.
Technical Tips #6: 3 Quick steps to organize your to do list.
1: Organize the Work
Know why you need to do the task and the order in which you need to do it. Which client or project is the task for? Is this a high priority or low?
2: Estimate How Long it Will Take
Know how much time you have each day to work on your tasks and how long they will take. Remember to account for answering emails and meetings in your available time.
3: Plan the Week
Plan your week by scheduling your tasks around your meetings and other important events. We want to create an achievable schedule. Not one that’s impossible to meet.
Visit the Resources page to download the free guide: 3 Steps To Take Charge of Your To Do List
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: What tips do you have for planning the week’s work or staying on task?
- Roseanne: Plan time for yourself FIRST in your schedule, not last. If it makes you feel better, call it a ‘meeting with yourself.’ Then plan your other priorities around that.
- Falguni: I maintain a personal kanban board… and use different color stickies such as red for delayed… pink for delayed but ok… yellow for carried forward from last week but not urgent and blue for new entries.
- Ruheena: Few points that help in time management: – Map your energy level with priority tasks – Set a start & end timelines – Keep a regular track of your progress.
- Michelle: Task triage, what’s most urgent, what needs to get done today, and what is coming in as new work that fits into one of the priority spots (leave yourself an open spot, like an extra room the hotel’s always keep).
- Ahmad: …is striving continuously to review, update, and re-prioritize and lastly celebrate small wins.
Technical Tips #7: 7 steps to estimate your project’s work and create a credible schedule.
The goal is to create a schedule that’s easy to maintain, we can make informed decisions from, and, importantly, is easy to understand.
That’s how we build confidence in the project and the team’s abilities to meet the deadlines. And confidence, backed with realism, is what we want.
- Calculate the team’s availability and capacity
- Prioritize the work
- Create trustable estimates
- Build the first pass schedule
- Cut and polish
- Adjust the schedule
- Calculate Best Case and Worst Case scenarios.
Visit the Resources page to download the complete and free guide: Create a Project Schedule You Can Trust
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: What tips do you have for creating credible project schedules?
- Shea: Every project needs room for delays or mishaps. I estimate how long it will take based on previous projects/past performance. I create a visual diagram that’s lays out the timing of when things will be delivered. And check-in points to make sure we’re still on the same page.
- Falguni: The best thing a project manager is do is to bring everyone on the same page… for that effective communication and ego management along with schedule management is important… hence the need for EQ and IQ both
- Rob: Something simple I tend to do is start at the end and work backwards. That helps me prioritize.
- PDWare: We are seeing a number of clients that are using software to allow for better collaboration. We are seeing project managers creating deliverable based schedules in their PPM tool of choice and then sending the deliverables to their Agile tool of choice. Then the team responsible for the deliverable creates their sub-deliverables and tasks in the Agile tool. The Agile tool then syncs the timeframe needed and estimates to the PPM tool. The Project Manager now has insight to dates, critical path, and estimates while the estimates truly came from the team doing the work. This frees up significant time for the project manager to focus on negotiation and risk management.
Help Others #8: Coordinate with the team.
Coordination includes looking out for each other and helping people become comfortable with change – the good and the bad.
We can coordinate the team’s work and other material items, and we can also coordinate our empathy to help others in new situations.
Coordination is combining different elements to enable them to work together effectively. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re helping bring everyone to a positive place so we can all be effective.
When faced with change we adapt at different rates. What might feel commonplace for one could be scary for another.
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: How can you help your team or online community, to be successful right now?
- Ruheena: The foremost step is to accept the change is for all. Change requires innovation & creativity of thoughts that will lead to practical solutions. There can be several work arounds for different tasks & communications. It all boils down to the fact that we give time & space on an emotional & physical level to let each other adapt the new environment.
- Seán: Up skilling and on boarding people with widely different tech skills requires a lot of patience, empathy and subtlety to not appear to be patronising while getting the message across. It’s all too easy to ignore or sideline those who are not at the same speed as everyone else but they are still integral part of the team and bring their own skills to the team which are to be considered too.
- Elizabeth: We all have different perspectives, so it’s important to consider this when communicating. I like to transform the connection with team members and/or clients by explaining complex ideas in various ways.
- Emily Ann: 1) I believe it’s absolutely necessary to have a clear well-defined strategy …being disorganized has never helped anyone through the discomfort of sudden change. 2) An open door policy that truly is cultivated regularly so clients and/or team members feel they actually can come to you to voice their thoughts ….this HAS to be nurtured… it doesn’t work if it’s only in theory and never plays out in real time. 3) Be genuinely encouraging when change happens (and it will always happen)…speaking honestly and plainly… it doesn’t help if Debbie Downer or Dan Destruction shows up, because it destroy the trust and confidence they have in you. At the same time acting like it’s not an issue does not help either that’s why I added speaking plainly and honestly.
Help Others #9: We all have experiences to share.
When we write down our ideas we’re using the right side of our brain which increases our creative and happiness hormones and reduces our stress ones. When we share our ideas with people, we are strengthening relationships, building trust, and expanding our idea from one that might work in a specific situation, to a larger workable solution for all involved.
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: What’s your favourite approach to sharing ideas with your colleagues and clients?
- Seán: My background as a horticulturalist taught me in order to get the plant to deliver the flowers and fruit that you want, you have to start with sowing the seed correctly. Every seed has unique growing conditions so you have to match the seed to the soil to get it to grow. Each member of the team has unique skills and ability, match the seed (idea) to the soil (person) and watch it grow. As the horticulturist (project manager) you have to nurture the plant as it grows and prune where necessary to redirect the growth or remove dead bits.
- Falguni: Experiences are what we gain from actions … and actions are inspired by our thoughts… and thoughts by our feelings and feelings based on our mindset… So you see it’s all interconnected! And most definitely it’s all worth sharing…. for if not shared.. they are no good at all
- Emily Ann: In a team setting to nurture sharing of ideas, consistently having brainstorming sessions will develop trust enough to where members will open up and share. It should be fun and needs to consistently happen so they’re used to and become comfortable with sharing.
Stressful Situations #10: Tolerance and resilience means we can work with anybody and thrive in any environment.
Tolerance and resilience means we can work with anybody and thrive in any environment.
It comes from having a positive and healthy mindset. Those around us have confidence and trust in us.
These good habits reduce the opportunities for anger and misunderstanding and make life more enjoyable for everyone:
- We’re mindful of our thoughts and actions (tips 1 & 3)
- Our communications are clear and effective (tips 2 & 5)
- We’re in control of the work and our colleagues have buy-in to what they need to do (tips 4, 6, 7, & 8)
- We share our knowledge (tip 9)
In short, we’re someone others want to work with.
But on those occasions we need to step back and intentionally remain calm these 3 strategies work well:
- Before you act ask yourself, “How do I want to be seen?”
- Remember, it’s not personal
- Look for the golden nugget. What’s the underlying reason someone is resistant to your idea?
Highlights from LinkedIn to my question: What’s an example of a time you remained calm under intense pressure?
- Falguni: I love the fact that you touched upon empathy as that is a critical element in working as a team member. Tolerance and resilience when come from an empathetic state are positives…. but otherwise I’m personally not a fan of the word tolerate…. I prefer to “work with” people or situations or limitations…. and not tolerate them
- Andy: We so easily discount someone’s resistance instead of trying to truly understand the source of the resistance. And the more we discount it, the more they resist!
- Steve: I learned early as a manager that a team member sometimes needs to vent. I did not deal with the emotions. I looked for that core issue that needed to be addressed. Once found, we could discuss options and the team member usually left feeling better because they know I heard them and was willing to help them.