Author: S Vasudev

An illustration of a PM coaching transformation

Many are curious to know what kind of transformation one can expect through the PM coaching. Sharing one instance of it as an illustration. Please note that each participant and their transformation is unique in itself, depending on where the participant stands, willingness to change and support from the manager. The profile of the participant was as follows: Technically very capable Tended to over-commit to customers Set high expectations for his team Could be terse and not supportive of team members Tended to treat all team members alike Viewed as being a bit of a “loner” Schedule pressures often resulted in his ending up doing many team member tasks by himself He was well aware of some of the above and some were inputs from his manager. Elements of above were included in his Personal Development Plan (PDP), which is used through the coaching. I worked with him over a period of few months with a monthly face to face meeting, supported by email and phone interactions as needed, typically at least a couple per week. What is detailed below is a brief summary of the steps and outcomes. The approach I took was to encourage him to apply some of the techniques of Scope, Time and Stakeholder Management, it is easy to start on the hard/science part. He was eager to practice these techniques, which he has just...

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Tracking in Agile projects

During a workshop on Agile Scrum, for participants new to Agile, a question came up – how is tracking in Agile different than in traditional project management? A very interesting question, which cannot be answered in short – covering some aspects, more to elicit interest in those new to Agile Scrum. In a typical project, the team members report the progress made on their task, in one of the following ways – in a team meeting, one on one meet with the PM, update the information in a in-house or a deployed tool. This is in most cases is a measure of progress, in terms of work that is accomplished, it is subjective and as perceived by the individual. This often is done once in a week or two weeks. Next, the PM looks at these inputs and interprets where the project is headed. This information is then shared back with the team. Often, there is a time gap between the team reporting and receiving the interpreted or worked out status. If the progress is not as expected, the message is likely to be received with some degree of irritation/annoyance – a natural human reaction to unfavorable tidings. The PM has to get the team to make renewed commitment to meet the goals. In Agile the progress is shared in daily stand ups, remaining work updated on the burn-down chart, the...

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Networking – when and how to begin?

One is never without a network and if you are reading this – it may be more to know how to grow it and/or to overcome obstacles, often due to one’s level comfort with so called “networking”. If you look at how you: got the opportunity to work in your current position got into your college/school got your house on rent or bought your apartment you will see that a network – formal, informal or virtual (internet based) was at play. I will focus on growing your professional network and a few simple steps for it and not delve into specifics of social media, as all of you would be familiar with it. First, start with your existing network – which will be your current and past colleagues, your college and school alumni, friends and family. See that you stay in touch with them, by meeting them up or electronically, if you are not in touch start right away. Sending greetings for important occasions, festivals and events is a good way to start. Make it a point to call a few of them over the commute/ weekends and work on the complete list slowly and steadily,  start at top the list again once you complete it. What if you need to ask for a reference or a favor from a person with whom you are not in regular touch. The best...

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Working long hours…

Years back, I was working on a project and putting long hours, my boss noticed this and asked me to meet him first thing the next morning. Next morning when I met him, he said “if the work requires long hours, see that you work late only alternate days say Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays. If you work on Saturdays, then no work on Sundays.” I was skeptical, asked what if I have to stay back on Tuesday, he said no worry, just shift the days. Sensing my disagreement, he asked me to to try this for a week and assured that he will take care of any untoward outcome resulting from this. He added, “I could have had this meeting yesterday, but I myself follow this and yesterday was my day to go home on time.” I was forced to try this and was better for that, it worked! I realized that I made less mistakes as it prevented the fatigue that normally happens with long continuous working. I was postponing some important tasks on the personal front, blaming my project. After this I was able to deal with that, though not immediately. I realized that the project was not the main cause for the delay. Looking back I found, that it’s a good practice to adopt. The approach is very objective – try to remain productive by reducing fatigue...

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Status update – work remaining

Often we see that team members are not able to meet their commitments, and it is a surprise, specially for new project managers. Each time I tried to figure this out – one thing stood out. The team member not being aware of the exact progress he or she has made. They provide status update, often in a status meeting, at the start of the week, they have hurried into, after a mostly hectic weekend. They update the status verbally, which may not be accurate and tend to paint a slightly better picture than what it is. This is a natural human tendency, which comes to the fore specially, when status update is being done in a group, face to face. What happens after this? The team member has provided the status and if it is correct, well and good. If it is not, and if that is not countered by the PM/others, team member internalizes the update given and accepted.  Then works at the pace that is in-line with the update, this happens in a subtle way. Result is that work may not get completed as expected. Have you encountered this? Have you dealt with this? What I did was to ask the PM to ensure that the team member is aware of the progress, as it is he or she who has to change or retain the pace to complete...

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