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The Million Dollar Project Manager

May 31st, 2017
million dollar project leader

Project managers drive initiative results yet they aren’t often treated with the respect nor given the support they need to thrive.

In our experience working with manufacturers and distributors from small, family-owned businesses to medium-sized, private equity backed companies to global large, complex organizations, projects account for 80% of the improvement. There are projects to improve efficiencies, reduce inventory, grow sales, expand into new regions, consolidate operations and the list goes on. Thus, if we must rely on projects for business growth and profitability, should we think about our project managers as million-dollar project managers?

Most likely the answer is yes. However, in our experience, project managers are not often treated with much respect. Oftentimes, they are seen as lower level resources responsible for executing initiatives, coordinating resources and reporting progress up the chain. But, is this how we should treat our resources who can have such a far-reaching impact?

Let’s think about the reach of project managers’ impact. There are several key points to consider:

  1. Impact on resources:Undoubtedly, the number one concern from all levels of leadership relates back to resources. There are “too many,” “not enough,” “not the right skills,” “not allocated properly” and so on. Thus, anyone who has a significant impact on resources should be considered valuable.
  2. Daily decisions on which tasks gain priority:Similar to the impact on resources, determining the priority of tasks is crucial. As a project manager, there is a constant need to prioritize among tasks, collaborate with departments, etc.
  3. Ingrained in the business:Project managers are in the “thick of things” on a daily basis. In order to complete tasks and achieve results, project managers are involved in a wide array of activities. They are familiar with what is working and what isn’t working in each department as it relates to project tasks. There are very few projects which are confined to a singular department.
  4. Communicate across the organization:In order to complete their tasks, the project manager must communicate and collaborate across departments and layers of the organization. Since high-quality resources are hard to come by, it is vital to keep communications in a positive light.
  5. Impact on profit:Certainly, almost every project relates back to profitability in some respect. Whether we are growing the business, increasing margins, automating key processes or improving efficiencies, there is a direct impact on profit.

So, since it is clear that project managers have a substantial impact on business success, it is wise to think about how to maximize their performance. As a metaphor, the million-dollar project manager is appealing since there is often million-dollar impacts. Thus, what should we do to ensure project managers are treated more like million-dollar project managers?

  1. Provide clarity of the big picture:Project managers will be more invested in their projects if they understand the impact on the organization. Make sure to provide clarity of the big picture and how they fit in.
  2. Give them discretion:There have been countless studies as to what is most successful in keeping valuable employees (like your million-dollar project managers), and the net conclusion is that employees want some ability to affect the outcome of their work. We must give them some level of discretion to make decisions and guide their projects within reasonable parameters.
  3. Recognize small wins:Managing projects can be a slog into details with little to show for it. Find small wins to celebrate. Make a big deal of the importance and tie it back to the project manager and their team.
  4. Support their decisions:There is nothing more important than supporting your project managers. Of course, providing constructive feedback is essential; however, when in the heat of the battle, it is vital to support your project manager’s decisions. Without this support at critical junctures, the project will suffer, and the project manager will become dismayed.
  5. Promote the project:Promoting the project throughout the organization can do quite a lot for its chances of success. How do you get resources to want to join your project team? Start by being attractive. This oftentimes goes back to how compelling the project seems. Make it so! Do you think the best leaders’ projects for improving margins happen to be more enticing than the average leaders’ projects of the same type? No; perception becomes a reality.

Since projects will have a substantial effect on your customer loyalty and bottom line – the two most critical aspects of any business – it is worthwhile taking a few steps back to think about the project managers driving these results. If you think about their impact, a million dollars might not be sufficient. Therefore, start thinking about your project managers as though they have a million-dollar impact and results will follow.

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:

The Project Managers Skill Gap

Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

 



My Cat Has the Right Idea About Rest

May 30th, 2017

My cat Smokey decided stretching out on my computer was a good idea. He can rest almost anywhere! I think cats have the right idea about rest in that we all need to take a bit of time to rest and recuperate now and then. Perhaps you did that this Memorial Day weekend or just take a few hours of your day from time to time. I had a lighter week last week in terms of meetings and so I felt rejuvenated after getting all sorts of website updates done and to my webmaster while also taking time to enjoy lunch at my favorite restaurants (Ihop, Olive Garden and Casa Moreno). No one has time! You have to make the time so that you’ll be more effective afterwards…..

rest and relaxation

One tip to implement this week:

The good news is that it is quite simple to rest; however, it is rarely done (at least in my circles). Think about your particular personality traits — are you one that rarely stops working and is always thinking about the next task? Do you know what you want to do to relax or simply never thought about it because there was no time? Strangely enough, understanding what works for you is important. Not everyone is alike. What I consider rest would be taxing for my best friend — and vice versa.

Don’t just think about your next two-week vacation. You need rest frequently. What can you do that is quick but restful? As I said, I enjoy taking myself to lunch — and often enjoy sitting outside. You might like to take a walk around the block at lunch or on a break. One of my good friends does this and takes pictures on his lunch break because he loves photography. Or how about taking a drive to clear your head? Or simply escaping to read a book for 30 minutes might do the trick. Figure out what works for you and START doing it. Don’t start with long stretches because it will probably be impossible to maintain. Instead, start small and see if you feel more rejuvenated. Smokey certainly does!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”



Amazon Is Going to Australia!

May 24th, 2017

Amazon has announced plans to go to Australia in a big way — of course! This has many Australian retailers unnerved while simultaneously providing Amazon with a new beachhead for its global distribution network. And, it appears as though Amazon might have a supportive regulatory environment for testing deliveries via autonomous drones and road deliveries since there are vast remote areas for potential deliveries. It certainly seems like Amazon is a company to watch…

Amazon expands to Australia

I asked my Australian consulting colleagues about this announcement, and their response was “Bring it on!”. Retail prices have been higher for quite a while and so it should definitely stir the pot. According to the Wall Street Journal and a Citigroup Inc. analyst, Amazon’s sales could grow 8 fold medium-term in Australia — definitely not pocket change. Undoubtedly, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

As we have said repeatedly, we live in a global business environment and so we must stay abreast of trending factors. Amazon’s strategy to gain a beachhead in Australia is noteworthy. Additionally, their continued focus in looking for ways to test drones and other technologies keeps innovation as a priority. And, certainly not to be overlooked, their ability to create disruption remains alive.

Disruptions are becoming part of the new normal. The key is to be aware of potential disruptions and incorporate them into your strategic discussions. What happens if Amazon becomes a player in the UPS and Fed Ex world? Once drone deliveries are proven, how will that change the landscape?

And, from the other viewpoint, ask your team — what disruptions might you initiate? Push the envelope a bit and think outside of the box. In my experience, the only way to pursue this path successfully is to start by creating a culture of innovation in your company. Have you thought about how to do that?

 



Are You Asking Good Questions?

May 23rd, 2017
asking good questions

If you are struggling to improve operations, you may be missing the obvious answer – asking good questions.

There is a shocking number of clients and colleagues that struggle, gather teams, run kaizen events and do all sorts of other activities (and throw good money after bad more frequently than anyone cares to admit) to improve operations (improve the customer experience/service levels at greater profit and margins levels) while missing the most obvious answer — asking good questions.

We’ve found that asking good questions can be the “secret weapon”. Thus, we’ll ask questions about asking questions…

1. Before leaping to a standard toolkit such as “run a kaizen event,” have you asked common sense questions? Is common sense uncommon in your company?

2. Before scheduling more meetings to discuss topics (several of my clients run from one meeting to the next ALL day, every day), have you thought about asking if anyone has gone to “see” the issue? What did he/she see?

3. Do you think there is an art in formulating a question? If you’ve ever talked with an effective questioner, you’d know there is more to asking questions than just asking questions. What thought have you put into your question?

4. Do you think about the objective of your question? If you try it for a week, do your questions and meetings become clearer?

 

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:
Lessons Learned: Asking Questions Isn’t Enough

Project Success is All About the People

 



A Simple Follow-Up Increases Your Success by 20%…. Are You Doing It?

May 22nd, 2017

I attended the Renaissance Executive Forums all-members meeting last week, and one of the keynote speakers was a consultant I know from my affiliation with a global consulting association. It’s a small world! His name is Alex Goldfayn, and he is the author of the Revenue Growth Habit. He is a successful consultant on, not surprisingly, increasing revenue, and I was especially intrigued by how easy he said success can be — it’s just whether we choose to follow the plan. One of his tips is simply to follow up. Somehow I don’t think we need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out; however, how many people follow up? Not nearly as many as you’d think! According to Alex who has worked with countless organizations, a simple follow up will increase revenues by 20%. It certainly seems worth it. Obviously the same type of statistic holds true regardless of why you are following up. Why not give it a try?

follow-up

One tip to implement this week:

I have a special affinity for this tip because it has been one of the reasons behind my success. I gained this insiders tip from my mom, and it has certainly paid off. I can’t tell you how many millions follow-up has created for my clients’ bottom lines. It seems almost too simple to be true but it is just not a common practice. Thus, the good news is that we all can make a dent in implementing this tip immediately.

Look through your tasks for the week. Are there some that will more likely be successful or set up to be successful if you followed up? Start there. Think about last week’s activities. Should you follow up on any items? I am sure you have at least one! Consider how you could help your manager, colleagues or Board members/corporate officers be more successful if you were to follow up on an important project. Don’t delay — move at least one item forward an inch TODAY!

 

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”