3 Critical Meetings To Improve Remote Team Communications

Until a week or so ago, teams that were co-located and knew how to operate in that mode have now become remote and are maybe struggling with the new normal.

People are learning that just because they are speaking doesn’t mean they are communicating! Communication is a bi-directional process – one side talks and another side listens.

Whether building software, launching a program, or planning an event, there can be no team collaboration without clear communication. This calls for some new kinds of team management, leadership approaches, and team cohesiveness.

According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession, “Ineffective communications is the primary contributor to project failure one third of the time, and had a negative impact on project success more than half the time.”

In the early days of being a Project Manager, I had an IT project with development team members in Bangalore, Prague, and Rio.  The miscommunication across the team was rampant and this caused major delays and rework.  Everyone spoke English, but we did not have a universal understanding of what even simple words like ‘Yes’ meant. It was ugly. Back then, remote teams were a relatively new concept and as a new PM I had little knowledge or resources to help get everyone on the same page. 

Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then. By leveraging lessons from greet communicators, plus utilizing cloud-based collaboration and project management tools, I now can show my teams how to work better together and have fewer communications issues.

There are many ways to empower your teams for better communications and today I am going to share with you the 3 remote meetings I employ to build relationships, share ideas and best practices, and make sure that every team member is engaged and committed to the project’s success.

1. The Short and Sweet Daily Meeting 

Daily meetings are not just for critical situations or Agile projects, they are my everyday wake up routine (with coffee, of course). Known as “Stand Up Meetings” or “Daily Scrums,” mastering the art of the 15-minute roll-call will keep your team connected. The way to keep the daily meeting short and sweet is by asking each person only 3 questions with 1-minute answers:

  1. What did you accomplish since our last meeting?
  2. What will you accomplish today?
  3.  What would keep you from getting your job done today?

As the leader, you need to be crisp and keep everyone moving along. Don’t waste anyone’s time. Stay focused. This is not the place for people to bring up new ideas or ramble on.  Set follow-on meetings with individuals or small groups if they need to discuss something or troubleshoot an issue. I pride myself on short meetings. Get everyone back to productive work as soon as you can.

2. The Required Weekly Team Meeting

To keep my team on the same page, and to ensure mutual support and collaboration, I insist on a weekly team meeting: it’s sacred to me. Though I set it for 1-hour, most of the time, we finish sooner. The meeting is always at the same time on the same day of the week. This is where I update everyone on company stuff (like corporate changes), people do updates on their projects, we share ideas, give recognition, get feedback, strategize for next week, and, this is where people can ask each other for assistance.

I run the meeting using a centralized project status report, which is kept on our cloud-based team collaboration site which everyone can access for weekly updates and status reporting. Having collaboration tools with direct messaging, file sharing, and screen sharing, like Microsoft Teams, or Slack, goes a long way toward better team communications too, but that topic will have to wait for another post.

Also during the weekly meetings, I have people do what I call, ‘show and tell.’  You learn a lot by demonstrating to others, so I try to get one person each week to show us something they are working on. This serves multiple purposes for the team: it gives individuals a chance to present their work in a comprehensive manner (which is a teaching/ learning moment), it gives the team member acknowledgment for their work effort (recognition is always good for self-esteem), and it highlights the individual’s expertise (which is really valuable to other members of the team when they are trying to figure out who to call with a particular problem).

3. The Regular TouchPoint Meeting

When I was at IBM, there were many different jokes about what the IBM acronym stood for. Those of us in the field used to say it stood for “I’m By Myself.”  Remote workers can feel very alone and out of the loop, even with lots of telephone meetings. To ensure my staff feels engaged, I have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with each of them. Since most of my staff is remote I use video chat, Skype or Cisco WebEx, when possible, which enriches the conversation with facial expressions and gestures.

The one-on-one touchpoint is a good time for me to catch up on personal things with the team member, which helps build trust in your interpersonal team relationship, but mostly, I use the call to listen to any new ideas or concerns and to provide mentorship on projects or professional development goals. I have found that by making time to listen to people and to ensure that they understand what is expected of them, they stay on the team longer (retention is important) and are more productive.

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Your take away, if nothing else:

  • Invest in technology that drives collaboration (Teams, Skype, Webex)
  • Have regular live virtual meetings (daily or at least weekly)
  • Give people the opportunity to connect personally (people need people and need to be heard)
  • Respect people’s time by setting a meeting schedule and sticking to it

Whether members are remote or local, effective team communications are central to project success. How do you ensure your teams are engaged and productive? Share your tips in the comments below.

Be Safe and Be Well. – Lorian

thedigitalattitude@gmail.com 

 

Controlling Chaos: 6 Agile Steps To Finding Sanity

Have you lost control of your day? Is the pace of everything getting faster and faster, so that you just can’t get done what you need to? Do you feel like your projects are spiraling into chaos? Finding ways to maintain one’s sanity while managing large, fast-moving projects is a creative dance. Recently, while teaching a course on “Managing Projects in e-Business,” one of my students asked me how I controlled chaos on my projects. My answer: “I plan for it!”

chaosMy job as the Project Leader is to keep the project moving forward; to meet deadlines, budget constraints, ensure performance, and most of all to manage the client’s expectations. I know better than to think that I can ever ‘really’ control things, so I put processes and procedures in place to make sure that maybe the roof won’t blow off when the tornado comes through (if you get what I mean), and to know what I might do if, and when, it does. I have been managing chaos for years (long before there was Agile PM), with solid planning,  a deep understanding of my team and client, and with a nimble attitude.

What is Chaos Anyway?

On a project, especially in today’s complex and dynamic environments, chaos can be defined as “a state of the (project) system where the future development of the system is not predictable, or only poorly predictable.” (Avoiding and Managing Chaos in (Construction) Projects, Sven Bertelsen and Lauri Koskela, 11th Annual Conference on Lean Construction – Denmark, 2009  ) Basically,  a small unpredictable event, like the delayed arrival of key resource materials, may seem like nothing more than a nuisance when it happens, but the cumulative effect of many deliveries not taking place over many months can delay you to the point of no return. When you are dealing with complex projects, you are sitting on the edge of chaos most of the time. If you plan accordingly, it is less likely that you will be overtaken by events. (How to Save a Failing Project: Chaos to Control, Ralph R. Young, Steven M. Brady, & Dennis C. Nagle, Jr.. Management Concepts, Inc., VA, 2009)

Sanity = Practicing Good Project Management

  1. PLAN:  Make a plan, work the plan, and update the plan continuously. Do you have a Project Management Plan (PMP)? If you don’t have a roadmap, how do you know where you are going? You don’t have to document a tome of stuff, but as Agile Modeling tells us, “keep your plan simple enough, but not too simple.”
  2. TRACK: Know where you want to end up and keep your focus there. Stay on track. Do you have a Project Charter? Knowing what you are sponsored to deliver is critical to getting there.
  3. MONITOR: Have a metric by which you know how to check the health of your project. Do you have an analytics dashboard? How do you know you’re on track if you can’t show it in a graph somehow?
  4. PREDICT:  You need to know what your mitigation strategy is because something will go wrong. What is your Plan B? Do you have a Risk Management Plan? Chaos management is really just risk management. You may not know what is going to happen but you can plan how you will fix it when it does.
  5. FIX: Prevent everything you can from going sideways. You do this by a continuous (iterative) review. Do you have a Change Management process? Remember to change the easiest things first and get them going in the right direction. Repeat after me:  CHANGE IS GOOD when it gets you closer to your goal. Little changes along the way are a lot easier than a big change near the end. (It’s that cumulative thing again.)
  6. DANCE: Be agile in approach and attitude. You need to be open to alternatives when you need them. Stay close to your client and your sponsor so that you can make decisions when they are needed in the moment.

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I know it may sound oversimplified, but most of the battle of controlling chaos is staying calm and practicing good project management.  What dance steps have worked for you?

Communications Management: 5 Virtual Team Tips For Better Understanding

When I started to manage global teams, it became apparent to me that people everywhere were generally bad communicators. People tend to talk, not listen, and with the loss of visual cues, multiple native languages, and different writing styles, I saw a recipe for significant misunderstandings. On a project, especially an agile one, misunderstandings can cost time and money.  miscommunications

Virtual environments of communications, (email, text, and phone, to name a few) pose a higher risk of miscommunication because they lack the ‘visual components’ that we find in face to face communications. This poses both challenges and opportunities for us as Project Leaders (“Social Networking, The “Third Place,” and The Evolution of Communications,” 2007). The challenge comes because we lose body cues that help us understand whether the other person is listening, or mulling over our questions, or getting ready to answer. We are not necessarily sure that our communication has been received as intended. On the other hand,  we have the opportunity to incorporate new modes of contact into our virtual communications that can provide us with enhanced team collaboration, knowledge sharing, and understanding. (“Six Sigma Team Dynamics, Roles, and Success Factors,” Skillsoft, 2017)

I put this list together after decades of successful virtual management of worldwide teams to maximize project communications and minimize misunderstandings.

pascal1. Be Brief: Use as few words as possible. Utilize the technology medium (email, twitter, instant message), that will convey your message without extra fluff.

“Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” (translation: “I have made this [letter] longer than usual, only because I have not the time to make it shorter.”)Blaise Pascal

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2.  Choose Your Medium Wisely“Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”Martin Lomasney

3. Pick Up The Phone or Skype: If a text or instant message dialog goes for more than 5 minutes (5 texts back and forth), it is best to pick up the phone or Skype and talk to the person.

4. Practice Good Emailing:

  • Less is more. (See Rule #1 & #5)
  • Try to make it fit on 1 screen.
  • Be clear about your point and organize using bullets and headings.
  • Write using good grammar.
  • Avoid attachments.
  • AVOID ALL CAPs, emojis, text-messaging language and colored type.
  • Proofread each sentence.
  • Don’t send something you would not want the world to see.

5. Choose the 1 Question you want to be answered: If you send a note with several questions in it, typically, only one question will get answered. Often, it is the last one. Occasionally, it is the first one. But usually, it is the most interesting one.  Why not decide instead of leaving it up to fate?

Miscommunication poses an unnecessary risk and cost to any project.  In a future post, I will talk more about successful global team communications and communication plans. Following some simple virtual rules can make all the difference in being understood.

5 Ways To Get Your MOOC On

People love acronyms and one of the newest one in the learning industry is MOOC.  What is a MOOC you ask?  Maybe this illustration can help:

MOOC_poster_mathplourde

Image: “MOOC poster mathplourde” by Mathieu Plourde

The internet is an incredible vehicle for teaching and learning.  Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, became popular about two years ago when colleges and universities realized the potential of this creative way to reach a lot of students at once. A MOOC basically is a course online that is open to many people at the same time.. Originally they were free and no-credit courses, but that has been changing.  There are all kinds of courses now available on the internet, from Chemistry to Pottery, and most of the top educational organizations in the world are developing them.  Sooner or later, you probably will take a MOOC.

Online education can be a real win for many students, especially those that can’t get to a classroom, but (based on the statistics that I am seeing), this type of learning has its challenges. According to research done by Shanna Smith Jaggars, Assistant Director of Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, 32% of students failed or withdrew from for-credit online courses (compared with 19% for equivalent in-person courses) 1 and, according to educational researcher Katy Jordan, MOOCs have generated 50,000 enrollments on average but with a completion rate below 10%. 2  Reading those statistics got me to thinking about how to help students do better (and maybe want to complete the course).

Here are my five suggestions on how to be successful when taking a MOOC:

1.  Practice Good Time Management

Knowing how to manage your time is critical when it comes to online learning.  It is just to easy to do everything else before you sit down to do your course work.  Everyday physical demands, like work, family, and community obligations, can get in the way of virtual activities.  To better manage your time you need to:

  • Understand the syllabus of the class and when assignments are due. (I actually print it out and put it in the front of my notebook – and yes, I take notes).
  • Add assignment due dates to your everyday calendar.  You need to make sure you allow yourself enough time to get the work done.
  • Make a ‘to-do’ list daily and make sure some MOOC activity is in there, every day.

2. Manage Your Work Environment

womanatdeskYour physical space is a critical factor of success when working online. A good study environment without distractions is essential to any student’s success but especially an online student.

  • Build a quiet space. Make sure that you have a private and quiet space to get your work done.  If you have kids, they should be somewhere else and pets should be walked before you sit down to work.
  • Build a functional space.  Make sure that the lighting in your space is sufficient and that you pay attention to the ergonomics of your computer/chair/screen/keyboard for maximum comfort.
  • Turn off your phone.  Make sure that people know you are taking a class between the hours of X and Y, so they leave you alone.
  • Turn off the TV and avoid games.  Control temptations by removing them from your reach during study time.  You might even consider uninstalling computer games if you find yourself playing “solitaire” instead of studying.
  • Shut down your browser (except for the class, of course).  It is easy to get lost on the internet, so make sure that you have no tabs open other than the class.  You can check Facebook later, when you are not in school.

3. Commitment and Motivation

Like with all schooling, the motivation and commitment to attend to what needs to be done to succeed is important.  But with online classes it may be the biggest success factor of all.  Unlike a class room course where you are surrounded by your peers and an instructor that can give immediate support, online students must figure a lot of things out on their own.  You have to be your own technical guru, know when to ask questions and how, do your online classwork every day no matter what, and keep working through stumbling blocks that come up.

  • Be committed to the process and understand what you want from the course.  What is your MOTIVATION?  There are many reasons to take classes, make sure that you have the willingness to succeed.
  • Understand how the classroom software works, especially when it comes to asking questions and requesting help.
  • Log in every day and make progress on your course, even if it is just a bit.  Students that do the best in online learning are those that make daily progress.
  • Persevere through the technical and other challenges that the online learning environment may pose to you.  Just keep at it.

4. Communications Skills

32661230When you are learning in an online environment, your written communication skills and reading ability are extremely valuable. It is up to the student to communicate their needs in writing almost exclusively because in online classes you are rarely seen or heard.  Unlike a physical class, the virtual world does not allow for non-verbal cues to tell the teacher that you don’t understand something, it will be up to you to ask, in writing.  Also, make sure that you are ready for a great deal of screen reading, though there may be some hard copy books as well.

  • Understand how the teacher and staff want to be communicated with.  Usually, online instructors allow for multiple ways to reach them. There should be instructions in the beginning of any course detailing things like when to email, what the instructor and teaching assistant’s office hours are, how to join discussion groups, team chat rooms, etc. By following the instructions and using the tools provided by the course, you will have the easiest time communicating with the staff.
  • Use your best business like communication style.  Unless told otherwise, the informal style of text messages and chats is not very effective when working with teachers and staff online. The more you can write in full sentences in a courteous tone, the better received your communication will be.  Even if you are frustrated or angry about something, remember that the teachers and staff at the other end of your communication deserve to be treated as the professionals.

5. Technical Understanding

You don’t need to be a geek to take a MOOC, but you do need to know your way around your computer and the software that the course is given in.

  • Take the course orientation on how to use the learning system, if one is offered.
  • Make sure the equipment you are working on meets the hardware and software requirements stated by the course.  If it does not you will want to fix your technical issues before you ever get started.
  • Make sure you are familiar with a few of the standard tools used in MOOCs: word processing software, spreadsheets, browsers (specifically how to get to places on the internet and how to download information).

 Have you taken a MOOC yet?  What worked for you?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

 

 

 

Lorian’s Social Connections

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigitalAttitude

Website: http://www.digitalattitudellc.com

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References

Image 1: “MOOC poster mathplourde” by Mathieu Plourde {(Mathplourde on Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/8620174342/sizes/l/in/photostream/. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MOOC_poster_mathplourde.jpg#mediaviewer/File:MOOC_poster_mathplourde.jpg

1. http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/presentation/moocs-unbundling-implications.html

2. http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html

3 Spring Training Tips For Business Coaches

Coaching-Cloud-Image

It is great to see all the coaches out there with the kids on the fields now that it is spring in the east.  All the little sweaty people running back and forth trying to build up stamina for the big game to come.  Drills and drills and laps and more drills. Practice, practice, practice.  It made me think about my role as a leader and how I coach other people to their personal best.

The word ‘coach’ brings to mind sports heros like, Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi.  And, when I think of a sports coach, I think of someone who is focused on one thing: winning.  Even though the great coaches care about the players, everything they are doing is to drive the team to the win at the end of the game.  Vince Lombardi, Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers, said “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing.”  He accepted nothing less than first place and said that second place was the ‘first loser.’

Here is an example of the most driven coach in history:

I learned a great deal studying sports coaches, and one of those things is that organizational coaching is completely different.  The goal for organizational coaching is about the individual and what they learn through the process. “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” (John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance).  There is a lot to be learned from the sports analogy but in the workplace, coaching is about the relationship between me and the person I am coaching.  There are several things that are important from my side as the coach:

coaching-e13078629095151.  I must be fully engaged with the process and make sure that I am pushing my protege in such a way as to get them to be moving forward.  Too many times people wait until the other person brings them problems.  When I coach, I set up an agreement with the protege upfront and have defined things that s/he is working on.  This relationship is about challenging the other person to improve, to develop new skills or new capabilities.  The responsibility to figure out how to get them going sits with me.

2.  I must be an active listener and come prepared with the right questions to engage the protege.  Sometimes it is hard with all the distractions around, especially when 90% of my coaching is over the phone and on-line, but the other person deserves my undivided attention.  If I am not paying attention, then why am I doing this and who is it benefiting.  I make sure to block off sufficient time in my calendar to focus on the protege and the challenge.

3.  Coaching for me is also about providing guidance that the other person could not get on their own (or at least not easily). I am here to teach them to fish, not to fish for them.  My goal is to provide my protege with tools that they can use going forward that will enhance their abilities, help them make decisions and solve problems, so that over time, they can be self sustaining.

Do you Coach? Do you have a Coach?  If you could only give one piece of advice to your next protege, what would it be?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigitalAttitude

 

Free PDU’s @ International Project Management Day

I just got back from a great meeting with International Institute for Learning in New York City.  They are a global leader in training, coaching and customized course development.  On November 7, 2013 they will be holding a free full day event for INTERNATIONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT DAY.

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Register for free  (how easy is that!!!!)

You can earn free PDU’s if you are a PMI PMP –  but more importantly, there is an impressive group of really good speakers and sessions.

animationfinalSee you there.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigitalAttitude

4 Keys To Being Found Through Keyword Search

If you had to describe yourself in one or two words, what would they be?  OK, could you do it in five words?

KeywordResearch_graphicGetting to the center, the core, the least common denominator, is what identifying your personal brand is about.  These core words, your key words about yourself and what you do, are not much different then the market gurus have been using for years to brand their products.  Marketing people use the concept of keyword search to maximize business.  Why not use it in personal branding?

The Beginners Guide to SEO says, “Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the “right” keywords can make or break your website.”  (SEOMoz, Chapter 5)

When you research something or someone on the internet, more than likely, you use keyword search.  The more specific you are, the more direct hits you get for what you are looking for.  So lets use keywords to match our background and experience.  This takes a little work, but is well worth the effort.

Most companies today use recruiting management software to scan your resume for keywords before it ever gets to a human, so let’s use that to our advantage.

1.  Find Keywords to Use:  Look at some actual job postings in your field.  I ‘googled’ and I also used ‘LinkedIn.’ to find job postings that were similar to what I do.  Using a job search engine, like Indeed.com or Simply Hired, will enable you to find a bunch of job listings on major job sites, company sites, associations, and other job sites, full of words that you can incorporate into your brand statement (i.e.: your bio and resume).  Some of the keywords were way off the mark for me, but I also found some new ones that I would never have thought about.

2.  Choose Good Words:  Be as specific as you can and focus on a few good keywords instead of a million that really don’t fit you.  The better choices you make the better match you will be when someone is looking for your skills or experience.  I am not taking about action keywords like ‘delivered’ or ‘performed,’ I am talking about the skills and qualifications that are your key attributes.  Here are the first few from the Top 100 Resume Keywords:
  • Sales
  • CPA
  • Tax
  • Business Development
  • Marketing
  • Controller
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Insurance
  • Software
  • Manufacturing

A person focused on project management skills might use the following keywords  (I brought up a PM job post and grabbed a few):

  • Risk manager
  • Team leader
  • Agile development
  • Communicator

3.  Titles Are Not Keywords: My previous position title was a keyword search nightmare: IBM Worldwide Project Management Competency Leader.  It basically does not tell people anything and is unsearchable.

When searching, I got 18,000 hits on Google for ‘Competency Leader,’ but very few were actually things that related to what I did.  Searching ‘Project Management’  (785,000,000 hits) was way to broad a keyword without a qualifier. To help people find me, I have now added keywords to my title on my resume and on-line profiles:  Talent Development and Learning Solutions: WW PM Competency Leader – this does not change my title, but makes it understandable.  What does “Vice President” or “Engineer” really mean when searched?

jobs4.  Is this really you?  Don’t just put words on the paper that don’t match the skills you are trying to promote just because they are in a job description. You want people to find you for those things you are really good at.  Take some time and maybe let go of some old words that you have been hanging onto since you first started writing your resume.  Anything that you haven’t done in more than 10 years, though important, is probably not a key skill or qualification anymore. Make sure that the keywords that you will be found for are the skills you want the world to see.  The whole idea is that you want them to find YOU.

Let me know how the search goes and if you discover any new ways to key in on those important words.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigital

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

6 Ways Not To Get Your Résumé Rejected

Clipart Illustration of a Group Of Businessmen In Colorful Shirts, Carrying Briefcases And Holding Their Resumes Up At A Job InterviewThe days are over when you can just type up your resume, fill it with wonderful words about the great things you did in the past, and expect that you will sail into an interview.  Today we have to do things differently to even get it through to a human.

I have learned a great deal about resumes lately, so I thought I would share some stuff with you and I hope you will share some back with me:

1.  Target the content of your resume sections toward the position you want.  I know that you have probably heard this a ton of times, but it is becoming increasing important, in a tight job market, to ensure that you highlight the skills and experience that are relevant to the position requirements, so that the reader does not have to go fishing for them.  You need to really pay attention to detail here and pull out the stuff that will help the reviewer understand that you have what they need.  If you are applying for a programming position, for instance, you might want to give more space to the experience you gained writing code three years ago on a small project than to your most recent assignment, which may not be totally relevant, like say you were a research assistant.  Give the relevant stuff more room.

2. Write your summary last.  Make sure that everything in your resume works in support of the theme that you are trying to get across (If you want to get a job as a Web Designer – all info should focus on things that support that field).  Then in the summary, pull out the things that are really going to capture people’s attention and make them want to read more.  Sometimes, the summary is all you will get – make it worth it!

3.  Value, value, value.  Employers want to know what you did for someone else to help assess what you are going to do for them.  So instead of saying something like, “developed quality review process for XYZ company,” you might want to let them know that you, “developed quality checklists and analytics in Excel and rolled out 10 offices in 4 months, improving defect tracking by 80%.”  Results, results, results.  Don’t have any?  Pull out your old performance appraisals (hopefully you have some good ones in there) and see what you used for measurements on the job.  You need to talk in numbers, percentage, something quantitative.

4.  Keywords are key.  Your resume (your LinkedIn profile and almost everything these days) is being searched for keywords. The game is how many matches your resume generates in relation to the job you applied for or want. So make sure to look at the job description and have exact words, even exact phrases, in your resume, that match what the company asked for.  If the job you are applying for wants a Project Management Professional (PMP) with 5 years experience,  then make sure that is in there.  This is not about making up details, this is about showing your background in the most ‘matching’ way that you can.  The more words that match, the more likely you will pass the initial screening, and that ultimately improves the possibility of getting an interview.  If you don’t match the requirements, save yourself the pain and don’t apply.

5.  Grammar and spelling counts.  It just takes one typographical error to have your resume thrown out.  If you are not going to pay attention to this critical document, what are you going to do when you work for me?  Spellcheck, proofread, give it to your friends, don’t send it out until you have made sure you have it perfect.  You really don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

6.  Get rid of the irrelevant and the ridiculous. Are you still using your original AOL screen name for business contacts:  HotMammaJamma@AOL.com ?   I highly recommend you get yourself a professional handle and move onto a server that shows you are up with the current times.  Yourname@gmail.com might be a little bit more grown up, don’t you think?  And, what about your profile picture?  Are you showing your best side?  Do you know what a perspective employer is going to see on your Facebook ?  Make sure you know what you look like out there in cyberspace (and keep your private settings PRIVATE).

Oh, yes, and one more thing you don’t need: none business details.  Just hold them for the interview (maybe), but don’t waste space on the resume.

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What tips have you learned about resumes in today’s world?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

OMG!! You Want Me to Open What?

Oh My Goodness!  Many Project Managers are cringing when I talk about their teams being more open and transparent and leveraging social technologies. Has everything we know about project communications changed?  I think I finally understand why they worry, but let me assure you, a good communications strategy is still a key to project success, you just need to tweak it a little.

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I know that it may feel like trying to manage projects with transparent and open communications is the antithesis of everything that we were ever taught as project managers about communications.  Being open just feels risky (kind of like buying something off of Craig’s List and meeting the person in an abandon building).

The principles of social collaboration seem to challenge all the conventional ideas that we have as PMs for project communications. Traditional guidance on project communications tells us that one of it’s main principles, is identifying what information is to be shared, when it should be distributed, to whom, and how it should be prepared.  How do you control communications in the open?

Yes, social collaboration means that the team, and maybe even the client, might have access to the non-confidential information about the project that is being worked on.  But, there is a tremendous benefit to working project details out in the open.  This allows the team to participate, collaborate, and react in a just-in-time way.  As PMs we need to embrace the fast-moving business environment that we work in, harness the reality of the current technologies we deploy, and leverage the globalization of our project teams.

What Transparency Means

Our communications job as Project Leaders is to ensure the team and the stakeholders have current information (status) on what, where, and when.  Being transparent, in the project context, means having an open and honest dialogue on the current state of your project.  Many projects run behind and even fail, because teams don’t want to tell each other, or the customer, the truth about scope creep, schedule slippage, resource challenges.  But, that is the reality of the project and once the team can embrace being real, all the time, in real-time, magic happens.  Being transparent is not about getting positive or negative feedback on an item, it is about disseminating information quickly so that all players can digest it, discuss it,  and react to it.  Some examples of transparent communications are:
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  • Open planning sessions to discussion and gather new ideas
  • Show milestones so everyone knows where you are going and can comment on their parts
  • Open discussions about issues; ask the team to comment regardless of if they are part of that subteam or not (solutions come from many places)
  • Show schedule and dependencies and let others own their commitments instead of being bottle necked by the PMs weekly status round-up.
  • Open your status meetings and let the extended team comment. Status now becomes ubiquitous.  There is no longer a need for lengthy status reports because it is up-to-date all the time. (Gee, I love this as a PM because it sure makes my reporting easier.)

Business today is very agile and the old top-down communications models don’t always work anymore.  The new social technologies allow teams to provide a continuous loop of feedback and ideas at the speed never before possible.  This transparent feedback loop can help a project manager, or the executives of a company,  make quicker course corrections, which means better response time to customer requirements or industry changes.

Recently, I was moderating the webcast of a global panel on Social Project Management (with 4 speakers and over 700 participants) for IBM. With only 4 weeks to put it together, all the planning, scheduling details, resource needs, were coordinated through a Lotus Connections Community.  Everyone knew what was going on, what was needed, who needed what, when, and even, how we did after the event.  Though the panelists sat in different countries throughout the world, that caused no problems because everyone checked in and chimed it, at their convenience. Issues were handled immediately (like people dropping out, or equipment not arriving).  And, except for one conference call before the event (yes, I still hang on to some old school needs like making sure people are not robots – LOL), everything was discussed, resolved, and documented in our open space.  We had a 98% participation satisfaction rating.  I know this wasn’t a big project example, but I wanted to give you a flavor of how it works.

Just try it on a small subproject first.  Let me know how it goes.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: http://facebook.com/TheDigitalAttitude

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Self-Doubt? Get Over It!

lipsLately I am feeling a little handcuffed by my self-doubt.  I know that I learned a lot of lessons over the years and have a lot to share, but I have this nagging voice in my head filling me with worry.  I am a successful person, but I have also had my share of failures.  What is it that makes the negative voice loud and the positive voice quiet now that I have been laid off?   Why is it that I keep thinking about all the things that could go wrong?

  • Will people actually buy services directly from me instead of a big corporation?
  • Will people respond well to what I write on the blogs?
  • How embarrassed will I be if I can’t get any clients?
  • What will I say to the critics that I know will come forward when I put my thoughts out on the internet?
  • Who do I think I am to advise people on their programs and business anyway?

The self-doubt tape keeps running through my head.  It is like a soft wave eroding my sandy beach of confidence.  I have always held myself to very high standards.  Is that the problem?  I know that there are always set-backs in any career, but for some reason, my self-confidence is being shaken by the negative messages.  Old tapes seem to be getting in the way of my focusing on the positive ones to help me move forward.

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What I realize is that most of my fears are related to what (I think) other people think, about me.  Though I have tried to change, I am very sensitive to what people feel (empathetic, I think they call it).  I am driven by my need for people’s approval.  (Read my post on Self Worth Starts With These 5 Steps).   And, I think this is getting in my way of reinventing myself.

Dr. Tom Muha, a practicing psychologist and writer in Annapolis, Maryland, says negative self-talk like this “exemplified how people keep themselves from making meaningful contributions.”  He goes on to say that people “allow a toxic combination of self-criticism and comparisons to others to prevent them from taking a risk and putting their creative offerings into the public eye.”  (The Capital Newspaper, Sunday, August 4, 2013)

Everything I am reading and finding on the internet says that I just have to jump in with both feet and give up this self-doubt.  You can’t win the game, if you never even play.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”     ―     Theodore Roosevelt

When I think about it, I have been in the game for years.  Why does the fact that the audience has changed (no longer the corporate family) bring up so much fear and trepidation?  As an innovator and thought leader in Project Management and Learning Solutions, I had many of my ideas criticized and even shot down over the years at IBM.  It never stopped me before from finding new ways to get the job done.  What makes this any different?  What makes being outside the corporate structure so scary?  Criticism stings and it may set me back (it may even feel overwhelming at times), but not moving forward because of the fear would be the saddest thing I could do.

Are you dealing with self-doubt?  How are you getting through it?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigital

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)