Project Management: Best Practices and Tools

Frontline Festival: Best Practices in Project Management and Project Planning

Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival on project management and planning. We’ve been doing a lot of work with project managers and their teams in our corporate work as well as speaking at a number of Project Management Institute conferences and events. We’re always looking for new best practices and insights to support people doing this vital work. So, we asked thought leaders from around the world to share their very best post on this topic.

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about meetings that get results and that people want to attend.  New contributors are always welcome. Submit your relevant blog posts here!

PMI EMEA Conference: Becoming a More Strategic Project Manager

Project Managers practice elevating their gaze and Winning Well at the 2018 EMEA Global Congress in Berlin

Components of Project Management and Planning

Rachel Gray of Patriot Software, LLC gives Four Tips for Devising and Effective Small Business Project Management Plan.  Project management encourages small businesses to reach their goals on time and within budget. Create easy-to-follow project management plans to outline the necessary steps for reaching these goals.  Follow Rachael.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement gives us Good Project Management Practices.  Good project management practices require that you deliver a working solution quickly, prioritize and limit work in progress.  Follow John.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited offers 10 Tips for Planning a Low-Stress Event.   Events are a project in themselves. Beth shares observations from a well-planned event she had the privilege to attend. Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership presents Project Planning Lessons from Home Renovation.  You can learn a lot about project management when you decide to do some home renovation! Follow Wally.

True success has more components than one sentence or idea can contain. – Zig Ziglar

Gaining Commitment: Project Management and Planning

Paula Kiger with Lead Change gives us Disaster and Contingency Planning Lessons from the ICU. Are you a leader tasked with planning for routine operations along with the response when routines are disrupted in ways big or small? Then you need to remember that success, in Swanepoel’s words, “Isn’t just the next move – it’s what you do three, four, even 10 steps after that really counts.” Follow Paula.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds writes about Deconstructing Delegation. Project planning, management and execution rarely happen in an isolated vacuum. You need to draw others in, engage their hearts and minds, and eventually pass off tasks that must be done. Effective project managers are also effective delegators. This article offers a framework for getting the most from your delegation efforts. Follow Julie.

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership  shares Create a Team Charter to Go Faster and Smarter.  The six elements of a team charter clarify the important agreements about the goals and how the team will work together to accomplish them. Taking the time to get clear agreements might slow things down in the beginning, but will help you later go faster in the right direction with smarter decisions. Follow Jesse.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. – Paul J. Meyer

Challenges in Project Management and Planning

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights  presents Three Common Mistakes of Strategic Planning.  Avoid these to save time and chart the best course for the future. Follow Skip.

In our work with project managers, one of the biggest challenges is having the courage and skills to have the tough conversations. Here’s a short video about how project managers can apply our Winning Well, I.N.S.P.I.R.E. model to their work.

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog provides, Are You Over-committing? How to Wow Them AND Take Control of Your Workload.  In it, she shares that by using the strategic approach of under-promising and over-delivering, you can make commitments that you can reasonably achieve without overloading your team and pushing to the limits. Follow Robyn.

Tony Mastri of Marion Marketing  gives us Four Must-haves in Your Marketing Plan for Small Business. Planning and managing your small business’s marketing can’t be too hard, can it? You might find that shortly after you get your feet wet, you’re in over your head. Learn which pieces of a marketing plan for small business are non-negotiable so you don’t drown in the details.  Follow Tony.

The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things. – Alexa Hirschfeld

We would love to hear your thoughts and best practices for becoming a more effective project manager. We encourage you to leave your ideas in the comments section, or links to your favorite resources.

Massive Failures - What Great Leaders Do Next

Massive Failures? What Great Leaders Do Next

What do you do when you’ve screwed up and everyone knows it? Your failures weren’t just mistakes in judgment…you let yourself down. You didn’t keep your commitment. You hurt people you are supposed to help. Your team looks at you with disappointment.

Now what?

We recently spent a week in Germany sharing Winning Well practices with project managers from throughout Europe and the Middle East.

One of the most striking aspects of our travel in Berlin was the way in which Germany has chosen to confront its own history.

In the center of Berlin you will find monuments to the millions of victims of the Nazi regime. Holocaust education is mandatory for every student. Sections of the Berlin wall remain along with memorials to those who were killed trying to cross that border.

The ways in which Germany has acknowledged and taken responsibility are solemn and humbling examples of how to address your own failures so you can rebuild your influence and credibility.

big mistakes what great leaders do Holocaust Memorial photo

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany

 

  1. Don’t Hide
    Germany has chosen not to run from its past. It is literally out in the open for everyone to see. When you screw up, break a promise, or hurt someone, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Acknowledge it. Own it.
  1. Apologize
    German leaders up to this day have apologized with statements of shame and repentance. Many leaders struggle to apologize for fear that it will make them look weak or ruin their credibility. The opposite is true. It takes strength to apologize and a straightforward apology builds your credibility. It signals that your team can trust you and it models how they should behave when they let one another down.
  1. Learn and Make It Right Going Forward
    When you’ve hurt someone or broken your word, do what you can to rectify the situation. These actions and commitments don’t erase what was done and, depending on the severity of your behavior, you may not regain the trust of those you hurt, but they do give you a chance to rebuild your credibility, influence, and relationships. Following large reparation payments and support for survivors, Germany has committed itself to human rights and living up to ideals of human dignity, diversity, and respect.

Progress Not Perfection

It’s not perfect.

Germany continues to struggle with anti-Semitism and the challenge of welcoming refugee immigrants while integrating new arrivals into a culture that strives to live up to its ideals of diversity and respect.

Your team doesn’t expect you to be a perfect person. They’re not perfect and when they see you screw up, own your failures, and move forward, you make it more likely that they’ll trust you and be able to do the same.

Final Thoughts

We recognize that for some readers this may be a challenging article. We do not mean to make light of the pain you have experienced nor would we suggest that you should readily trust someone only because they have apologized.

For others, we recognize the challenge that comes with discussing what has become the embodiment of evil in our age. We do not intend to make light of these events nor make false equivalencies between a leader’s broken promise and the systematic extermination of human beings. Even so, the principles that apply here apply to us all.

Lead well – the world needs you.

the secret to managing remote teams

Managing Remote Teams: Let’s Grow Leaders April Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival on managing remote teams. We asked thought leaders from around the world to share their very best post on this topic.

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

As we head out to the PMI EMEA Project Management Conference in Berlin, next month’s Frontline Festival is all about project management and planning. New contributors are always welcome. Submit your relevant blog posts here!

Management Mindsets for Leading Remote Teams

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference offers Hope is a Strategy, in which he shares that the key to managing any team, remote or otherwise, is fostering hope. Though it might seem too warm and fuzzy, hope liberates employee engagement. Follow Jon.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen writes Think About This Before Joining the Gig Economy Nation. If you manage a remote team, this piece will give you some insight into what to expect. It’s easy to forget that your remote workers have struggle (and triumphs) you don’t see. Follow Paula.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds wrote Rethinking Remote Relationships to remind us that creating connectivity within remote teams is about tapping hearts…not keyboards or touchpads.  Follow Julie.

Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing. – Warren Bennis

Building Relationships When Managing Remote Teams

Sean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding reminds us that it is the job of virtual management to ensure that those necessary relationships among the team, no matter how geographically distant, are supported and maintained. This is not a simple order – and history offers us a cautionary example of the dangers that expansion and distance create. Consider the Roman Empire in Sean’s post: Three Tips to Manage Virtual Teams More EffectivelyFollow Sean.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group gives us Eight Successful Tips for Connecting with Remote Workers. With the numbers of hard-to-reach and remote workers growing, communication is even more of a critical part of a supervisor’s job. As much as remote workers may appreciate the convenience working remotely offers, they still need the human connection, conversation and insight of the workplace even when they are miles away or on the shop floor, to help them feel valued and included. Follow David.

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog  provides Three Ways to Hear What Your Team Thinks About You,  sharing three surefire ways to hear what your team thinks by giving them opportunities and channels for sharing their points of view. Follow Robyn.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership gives us Making Virtual Teams Productive. In many ways, leading a virtual team is like leading one where everyone is in the same place, except when it comes to social support. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement gives us How to Manage What You Can’t Measure.  The importance of psychology in managing people (remotely or in person) is too often underappreciated. Paying attention to what research can show about motivation, fear, trust, etc. is even more important and valuable for remote teams. A conscious effort is needed to make sure that connections between remote workers and other team members are strong. It is also more important to make communication explicit.  We often create problems – remote or not – when communication is largely implicit. Follow John.

Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect. – Mona Sutphen

Overcoming Challenges in Managing Remote Teams

Kaylee Riley of Patriot Software, LLC  knows that although letting employees work remotely has many benefits; it can be difficult to communicate information, set up meeting times, and hold everyone accountable. In Five Challenges of Managing Remote Teams (and How to Overcome Them) she helps us learn how to effectively lead remote teams and keep business operations running smoothly Follow Kaylee.

Eleonora Israele of Lead Change gives us Bringing Unity to a Remote Team. There are tons of advantages to working remotely and hiring remote workers, but there are some setbacks too. The lack of face-to-face communication and in-house team-building can cause contract or remote workers to feel less company loyalty, dedication, and connection.  Follow Eleonora.

Ken Downer of Rapid Start Leadership shares 15 Pretty Good Virtual Team Building Notes. Building a team is tough enough when you are all face to face; add time and distance between team members and the degree of difficulty quickly rises. These ideas can help you bridge the gap, build trust, and make you more effective as a team, wherever you happen to be.  Follow Ken.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer provides The Care and Feeding of Virtual Teams. The good news about technology is that teams can be spread throughout the world, offering a rich background for global enterprises. The difficult news is that time zones and the absence of visual interaction can cause teams to stumble or even fail to start at all. Follow Eileen.

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off the goal. – E. Joseph Cossman

Your turn. We’d love to hear your best practices for managing remote teams. Please share in the comments below.

17 Questions to Help Grow Confidence in Children

19 Questions to Grow Confidence in Children

Questions are a remarkable way to grow confidence in children. Great questions work because they cause children to stop and think. To reflect. To pause and consider what’s going on in their lives and in the world around them. Kids are natural questioners. So why not tap into that curiosity as you work to help build their confidence and leadership skills?

Today we answer the very important question, how can we grow confidence in children, with more questions. Questions you can ask to help your children continue to grow toward becoming remarkable leaders and human beings.

19 Powerful Questions to Grow Confidence in Children

Framed well—powerful, open-ended questions can help children gain a better understanding of their skills and abilities as well as to consider the contribution they’re already making in the world. Here are a few of the favorites we’ve used over the years in raising our own children and in work with other youth.

Asking any one of these questions can be the start of a great conversation. And of course, it gives you a remarkable opportunity to listen well. Nothing builds confidence faster than truly being heard.

Questions to Help Children Tap into Their Strengths

1. Would you please draw a picture of something you do very well?

2. What are some of the nicest things your friends say about you?

Okay, this one’s old school Mister Rogers, but it’s a keeper.

3.  What makes you special?

4. Let’s make a list of 10 things you are really good at. Which of these make you most proud and why?

Questions to Help Cultivate Awareness and Compassion

5. How did you help someone today?

6. I’m so happy about how you help our family. What do you think are some of the biggest ways you help?

7. What do you think that person is feeling right now?

8. When they’re aware they’ve hurt someone: How can you apologize?

Questions to Help Children Overcome Setbacks

Almost any kind of “how can you?” question works well here.

9. How can you be most helpful in this situation?

10. What else could you try?

Nothing builds confidence faster than tapping into past success.

11. Have you ever had something like this happen before? What did you do then to fix the problem?

12. When they make a mistake and spill or break something, rather than freak out, ask: And now what do you do?

Questions to Encourage Children to Try Something New

13. What worries you most about _________?

14. Remember when you were so scared to try _________? And now it’s ________ (one of your favorite things to do, places to go…)

15. Remember when mommy/daddy did ______? I was super scared too. What do you think were some of the ways I helped myself to become braver?

16. When facing an overwhelming problem: What is the smallest thing you can do to solve this? (eg: Pick up a single sock. Take out a sheet of paper. Once that is done, ask again: Now what is the smallest thing can do?)

Questions to Help Children Take a Stand

17. What is one problem in your community that more than ten people you know want to solve? What could you do in the next week to help make that better?

18. Why does that make you so angry? What do you think you could say to help your friends understand how you feel?

Super Secret Bonus Question

When asking these questions your kid might respond with an “I don’t know.” That’s when the super secret bonus question comes in.

19. Let’s pretend you did know. What would you do then?

Sometimes kids (and grown-ups too) get stuck when asked for solutions. They’re afraid to sound stupid or that it might not be the “right” answer. By moving the conversation into the imagination, it helps them tap into their natural creativity and makes it safe to explore options, rather than having to be “right.”

Your Turn

What is one of your favorite questions to help grow confidence and leadership in children?

Other Topics Related to Growing Confidence in Children

Download a FREE copy of Parent’s Guide to Leadership here.

Ten Tips on How to Build Confidence in Kids (Working Mother)

9 Secrets of Confident Kids (Parents)

How Being a Parent Improves your Leadership Competency

Children’s Books on Leadership: Questions to Inspire Young Thinking

trust the trenches

Trust Builders: Five Ways To Convince Your Team You Trust Them

If your team doesn’t think you trust them, there’s no way they’ll trust you. And of course, when results are lagging or stakes are high, you’re only human if your first inclination is to be just a little skeptical. After all, there’s a lot at stake.
And yet, time and time again, we see that the teams with the biggest turnarounds have one thing in common—their leader believes in the team’s ability to accomplish the extraordinary and believes in their ability to make it happen.

Trust Builders: 5 Ways To Convince Your Team You Trust Them

Today we share a few ways trusting more leads to better results.

1.Set audacious goals.

Oh sure, your team may grumble, but managers who win well know there’s no greater gift you can give your team than leading them toward head-turning results. Set the bar high and then tell them, “I believe in you. I know what this team is capable of.  Now let’s figure out just how we can make this happen together.”

Show trust by believing it’s possible.

2. Believe in them.

We watched Sam, a manager in a small nonprofit, handle this masterfully with his direct report. The organization worked to ensure water quality in mountain streams. Laura, a free spirit who cared passionately about her people and clean water, managed a team of paid engineers and volunteer inspectors. She worked hard but her team wasn’t satisfied with her performance. They wanted to see her in the field more; she didn’t know how she could make them happy, and she didn’t feel she was making a big enough impact in a cause she cared deeply about. She came into Sam’s office, slumped down in a folding chair, and declared, “I’m done.” She said she would turn in her resignation, that she’d lost faith in her ability to be effective.
Sam was devastated. She was one of his rock stars. How had he missed conveying that to her? Sam did not accept her resignation. “You may have lost your belief in yourself, but you have a problem,” he said. “I do? What’s that?” “I still believe in you. You can quit on yourself, but don’t expect me to quit on you.”
Of course, that conversation was only the start. It eventually led to Laura’s taking a more balanced view of her accomplishments and gaining the confidence she needed to continue her vital work.
Show trust by believing in their capabilities.

3. Invite them to come along.

Early in her career, one of Karin’s first bosses, Gail, brought Karin with her to senior-level meetings, arguing that “no one could explain it better” than she could. Of course, that wasn’t true; Gail was a seriously gifted explainer. She trusted Karin would do okay and was secure enough to give up the spotlight. We are amazed at how many bosses are afraid to give such opportunities to their team.

Show trust by sharing the stage.

4. Admit what you don’t know.

Show your team you trust them by admitting you don’t have all the answers. Trust them with your concerns. You’ll be surprised how your people rise to the occasion when you trust them with your questions.

Show trust by being real.

5. Encourage them to meet without you.

A great way to show trust in your team is to give them a big hairy problem and ask them to meet to figure it out. Be sure to define what success looks like. Get any information, criteria, and parameters they may need out of your head and into theirs first—otherwise, they’ll spin their wheels.

Show trust by getting out of the way.

Your Turn

What are your favorite ways to show trust in your team?

how to dramatically improve team communication

How to Dramatically Improve Your Team Communication

The best way to improve your team communication is to talk about it. Most team frustration stems from expectation violations, not just about what we’re communicating, but how. It’s always inspiring to see a team carve out some time, shut the door, and have a reflective, candid conversation about how communication is helping and hindering progress.

Here’s a Winning Well team communication check-list we use with our clients and in our virtual leadership programs.  You can download a FREE formatted of the tool here. Team Communication Check-in.

Winning Well Team Communication Check-in

We encourage you to use this tool with your team and let us know what you learn and what you do next.

Confidence

  • We encourage one another to “Ditch the Diaper Genie” and celebrate when we speak with respectful candor.
  • We solicit and encourage new ideas.
  • I feel encouraged to stand up for my point of view.

Humility

  • We “Own the U.G.L.Y.” and schedule time to talk about what’s not working and how we can improve.
  • We have a proactive strategy for soliciting “full-circle.” feedback up, down and sideways.
  • I admit when I’m wrong.

 Results

  • We clearly communicate our expectations of one another and frequently Check for Understanding.
  • We hold one another accountable (and have I.N.S.P.I.R.E. conversations as needed).
  • I know what I need to do to succeed on this team and what the team needs to achieve to succeed in this organization.

 Relationships

  • Our meetings help us achieve results and build relationships.
  • We have clear, shared expectations regarding timely responses to emails, voice messages, and texts.
    • Email Timeframe: _______________
    • Voicemail Timeframe: _______________
    • Texts Timeframe: _______________
  • We respond to emails, calls, and texts in a timely manner.
  • On this team, I can say what I need to and I will be heard.

Your turn. What are your favorite ways to communicate about communication? What would you add to this tool?

employee engagement

Employee Engagement: Ideas on Insights for Improvement– A Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival on employee engagement. We asked thought leaders from around the world to share their very best post on this topic.

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about managing remote teams. New contributors are always welcome. Submit your relevant blog posts here!

Employee Engagement Research Statistics and a Call to Action

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference shares some scary statistics from the Edelman trust barometer which indicate that trust and employee engagement are declining. We need a leadership jolt and reboot our practices to raise trust and engagement to better levels. Follow Jon.

Dean Vella of University of Notre Dame Online  shares some of the research-based insights on the drivers of employee motivation in his post Motivating Employees is Key to Effective Management.  Lots of great information here from some of the best research in employee motivation showcasing how soft-skills are so vital in running highly effective organizations. Follow Dean.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds takes an in-depth look at the causes of attrition and ways to make your organization more sticky in Attenuating Attrition: How Leaders Can Create a Sticky Situation. Follow Julie.

Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

According to Eileen McDargh of The Energizer, when a job is patterned, the same-old-same-old stuff, and a traditional career ladder is offered, great talent will not accept nor will they stay. In today’s fast-paced, changing competitive world, resilient people look for creative options, the ability to adapt on the fly, and the excitement of a challenge. Learn how you can, as an organization, change your policies to take advantage of this energyFollow Eileen.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” -Steve Jobs

Sean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding shares a motivational technique that applies to basketball,  business, education, medicine and virtually any industry where people can be inspired to give more effort and focus to their jobs.  Follow Sean.

Lisa Kohn from Chatsworth Consulting Group presents Skipping to work, bounding up the stairs, and other signs we love our jobs on The Thoughtful Leaders™ Blog.  She shares that one of the best ways to increase engagement is to help employees find what they love at work, so they indeed skip on their way in. Follow Lisa.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture gives us a Culture Leadership Charge: Seismic Change, where he describes the changes society is facing. This shift creates new demands on leaders. Leaders must change how they influence others to leverage employee passions, creativity and productivity no matter where those employees choose to work. Follow Chris.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us not to be crabby leaders. Crabs in a fisherman’s crate will pull other crabs down into the pack to prevent some from escaping. Does your leadership pull people down, or allow them to stretch and fulfill their gifts? Follow Paul.

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership reminds us to First Engage Yourself: 7 Ways to Increase Your Own Engagement and Satisfaction. She gives us seven questions to evaluate our own level of engagement along with tips on what we can do if we score low on any of them.  Follow Jesse.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group explains that employees come to work for different reasons, have different goals, and are motivated by different things. If employees could collectively tell you what they want and need, here’s what they might say. Follow David.

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”
-Sybil F. Stershic

 

According to Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership study after study has shown us that if you’re the boss, you are the person with the biggest impact on the productivity, morale and engagement of your team. He shares 10 ways managers can create better engagement. Our favorite was his number one answer:

“1. Show up a lot. All good things flow from this. You get to know your people and they get to know you.” Follow Wally.

William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts shares a post dealing with the lack of engagement from an “under management epidemic” that occurs when managers get so busy they do not take the time to connect well with their staff and focus on the fundamentals. He offers several suggestions for allocating more time to do just thatFollow William.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates offers some tips for reaching true consensus with your team–a feat that when done well, demonstrates the level of engagement on the team. Follow Shelley.

Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across America shares a sad but true story of employees being afraid to complete online satisfaction surveys for fear of retribution. When that happens, leadership may want to take a long look in the mirror.  Trust? My Company is a Sh_tshow!  Follow Barbara.

Ken Downer of Rapid Start Leadership shares Demotivation: 7 Ways You Might Be Killing Your Team’s Spirit. A team’s spirit means everything when it comes to productivity and engagement, but despite our best intentions, the way we lead can be a source of demotivation. Ken gives some concrete steps to get the team organized again.  Follow Ken.

Rachel Gray of Patriot Software, LLC  shows us How to Improve Employee Engagement. Engaged employees can increase your bottom line and lower your turnover rate. Rachel gives us five actionable steps toward that goal.  Follow Rachel.

Dean Vella of University of Notre Dame Online shares that recruiters and interviewers are looking deeper into a candidate beyond skills and experience. They also want to know how they will adapt and get along with their co-workers. This is referred to emotional intelligence and is known to play a role in promotion. EQ feeds employee engagement and is a part of work collaboration and team cohesiveness. Follow Dean.

P.S. If you’re looking for more great quotes on employee engagement, check out Kevin Kruse’s collection here. 

town hall meetings: 5 critical mistakes to avoid

Town Hall Meetings: 6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Leadership Message

When done well, corporate town hall meetings are an inspiring way to get everyone on the same page, to communicate your MIT priorities, to hear what’s on the minds of the people closest to your customer, and to say thank you. We’re huge believers in great town hall meetings, motivational kickoffs, and bringing the team together for a creative ruckus.

And as keynote speakers, we are often truly honored to be included in these corporate events. It’s awesome to collaborate and hear the messaging and how the senior team is working to engage and connect with the team. It’s the best when we can all work together and align and integrate our ideas to have the greatest impact.

6 Critical Mistakes to Avoid in Your Town Hall Messaging

We’ve seen some amazing Winning Well communication from rock star leaders. And sadly, we’ve also experienced a few town hall meetings that, despite best intentions, turned into a colossal waste of time and expense.

What makes the difference?

No amount of theme-based snacks, creative SWAG, or even remarkable keynote speaking can make up for poor messaging from the senior leader. Be sure to avoid these six common, critical mistakes when forming your message in your town hall meetings.

1.Talking EBITDA* over What I Need From Ya

Of course, including a few slides on the state of the business is important. Your team wants that kind of transparency. But resist the urge to pontificate on all the details. Work to simplify the messaging and focus on the “so what?” What do you want them to do to move the needle? How can they make an impact on the bottom line? Be as specific as possible in terms of needed behaviors.

2. Winging It

“Oh I had some notes prepared, but you know what, I’m going to just throw these away and talk to you.” Every time we hear these words, we cringe.

We get what you’re trying to do here, and we love the sentiment. You’re looking to show up real and really connect. And yet, the CEOs who really pull this off well, aren’t actually winging it–they’re usually the ones with the MOST executive communication training and experience.

They know exactly what they want their audience to think, feel and do as a result of their message. They know what stories they might want to share and why. They may not know the exact words, but trust us, the folks that pull this off have a master plan.

3. Banning Interaction

It might seem paradoxical to hold a town hall meeting without a time for questions, but we’ve seen it happen. When you don’t engage with your people you look either insecure or arrogant. Insecure leaders don’t believe their own message. Arrogant leaders lack the confident humility to Channel Challengers.

4. Staging Q & A

Nearly as bad a mistake as no interaction is faked interaction.

Just like when preparing for skip-level meetings, we highly recommend you do your homework and consider the questions you’re most likely to be asked—and to consider your best answers so you’re not caught off guard.

What shouldn’t be rehearsed is the people asking the questions. If your direct reports are meeting with their teams to vet all the questions in advance, and telling folks what they can and cannot ask you, you’re completely defeating the purpose. We’ve seen this practice more than once. Bless their hearts, they’re just trying to prevent their teams from embarrassing themselves in front of you. But that’s not the point is it?

Take questions, be ready for the tough ones, and grow your influence by answering authentically.

5. Being Out of Touch

This a particularly cringe-worthy mistake. David has sat with entry-wage employees while a leader spoke to them about the difficulties of owning a sailboat in the Caribbean. Back in Karin’s corporate executive days, she sat with her team as her boss took the stage in a town hall that she had helped to arrange. She watched as her boss delivered the most out-of-touch message you can imagine:

Her team and many others in the audience had been in one of those “all hands on deck” seasons … as requested from senior leaders. No vacations. Lots of overtime. Crazy hours for all.

Then, from the microphone, they heard the leader say, “At the end of the day it’s all about work-life balance. Here are pictures of me and my kids over the last week. I’ve got to tell you, in the last decade, I’ve never missed a little league game.”

Karin’s phone blew up. It was May,  the heart of little league season. She had a team of people who really cared about their kids and their sports, all of whom had missed a little league game that week. #NotHelpful

6. Bringing the Diaper Drama

Don’t wrap hard truth in layers of spin, manipulation, and evasive double-speak. We’ve watched leaders who didn’t trust their people enough to be honest with them lose all credibility as they avoided saying what needed to be said. If you have to reorganize to stay competitive, if a new initiative is going to require changes, or if everyone needs to improve their customer service by a quantum level, it’s time to Ditch the Diaper Drama. Think through the consequences of the change, have a plan in place, be compassionate, and speak the truth.

Your Turn

When you avoid these six mistakes, you’re on your way to town hall meetings that inspire your people to achieve results with specific behaviors and build more connected relationships with every team member. What are your secrets to successful corporate town hall meetings?

*Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization

11 Ways to Grow Leadership Skills in Children

Developing Leadership Skills in Children: 11 Ways to Grow Your Kids

When we talk about developing leadership skills in children, we’re often met with a sigh, “Oh my kids not ready for that…” And yet,  most of us take a deliberate approach to developing other skills in our kids early on. We teach them to swim, to ride a bike, to read, and read music, as early as we can. Leadership development should be no different. The earlier we can develop leadership skills in children the more natural these skills will feel.

how do I develop leadership skills in my chidren?Dear Karin and David,

You talk about growing leaders. How do I grow leadership skills in my young children? I’m trying hard to give my children the best advantage in life I can, but I can’t find much out there on how to help them develop as leaders. What would you recommend?

Signed,

AMomGrowingLeaders

Dear Mom Growing Leaders,

Yes! Thank you for asking this important question. It’s a subject we’re very passionate about. Here are few insights from our experience. We hope others will join this conversation and share their experiences and approach as well.

11 Ways to Develop Leadership Skills in Children

Start with lots of love and building self-esteem. Too many grown-ups with power mess things up because they’re still dealing with childhood muck. Be a role model, and know they’re always watching. Beyond that, here are a few of our favorite approaches for building leadership skills in children.

    1. Teach them to give.
      Join them in volunteer activities  talk about the “why” as much as the “what.” Help them look for needs in everyday situations, and to consider how they can improve the scene. Help young children delight in giving and call it leadership. Averie’s experiences building homes in Mexico as a child shaped her leadership roles in college and her eventual career. Learning the servant part of servant leadership is as important as anything else when helping your children develop as leaders. You can help them to find the joy in their work and school assignments.
    2. Talk to them like grown-ups.
      Young children are smarter than they look. Talk about current events. Expose them to people who think differently than you and help them learn to listen and respectfully articulate their own point of view.
    3. Give them a say in some family decisions.
      Pick some decisions where you don’t need control. Invite your young children to brainstorm creative options. Encourage each family member to listen to one another’s viewpoints before deciding as a family.
    4. Nurture a love of reading.
      Read together and talk about the characters and relationships in the stories. For a list of great books to read with your young children click here. (one of the most popular posts every on Let’s Grow Leaders)  We would love to have you add your additional suggestions in the comments on that post (we received some great additions from other readers.)

teaching your children leadership

  1. Bring them along and give them a role.
    Kid’s love to see mommy and daddy in action. We’ve taken our children with us as we work and travel, given them concrete roles ranging from working the Verizon booth at a Festival to working the expo floor and promoting our book in Singapore. We’ve explained what we’re doing and why, and ask for their insights. Seb has seen our Diaper Genie™ talk so many times he can give it himself. See also  A Great Way to Teach Your Kids About Leadership.
  2. Admit when you screw up.
    Talk about your leadership mess-ups. Kid’s need to know that leaders aren’t perfect and that mistakes are all part of their learning. One of the best ways to develop leadership skills in children is to show them you’re still growing too.
  3. Hang out with other leaders
    So they can see leaders are regular people too. We’ve even included Sebastian on some of our Skype conversations in prepping for our International work—makes it much more meaningful when they meet in person. Sebastian has built his own relationships with leaders around the world and that can be fun for the whole family. Averie regularly spent time with David’s team-leaders, Directors, and Board members, developing her own friendships and business role-models.
  4. Teach them to craft and deliver a great prayer (or toast) at family gatherings.leadership connection
    “Let’s talk about why we’re gathered and what people may want God to hear ” or “Let’s find some words that would make everyone here feel special before we sit down to eat.” It’s so much fun to see what they come up with. After a few times with some guided help, it’s likely all they’ll need is a nod from you and they’ll know what to do.
  5. Encourage connections.
    Cultivate an awareness of other people, each person’s dignity, and the negative effect of labels. Help them to connect by showing interest. If you want to learn about networking for you or your children this is the post.
  6. Help them find their own voice.
    Help them find cultivate their passions and to talk and write about what they love. If you can get them on a stage early on, it will make speaking to an audience seem like a natural part of life. They might by-pass that fear of so many grown-ups by speaking early and often.
  7. Ask great questions.
    Asking great questions is one of the best ways to help your managers be more strategic. It’s also a great way to develop leadership skills in your kids. “What’s another approach we could try?” “Why do you think that happened?” “What’s the next best choice we could make here?”

Developing leadership skills in children is one of the most important ways to grow our future. Investing just a little time with any of these techniques each week can go a long way in helping your children grow.

If you enjoyed this post, or are a parent looking to help your children develop leadership skills,  you can download a FREE ebook Karin wrote in collaboration with Alli Polin a few years ago, write as she was starting Let’s Grow Leaders.  A Parent’s Guide to Leadership.

And stay tuned… we have an exciting Let’s Grow Leaders growing leadership skills in children surprise coming later this year.

See also: Issues Families Face: Are You Raising a Leader?

Project Manager Tools: An Easy Communication Tool

How to Run a Better Project: A Communication Tool For Project Managers

Whether you’re a PMI certified project manager working to spearhead several large-scale projects, or a manager balancing a critical project while still doing your day job, you know the importance of communication. 

And yet, people typically don’t communicate well. Especially not about risk; about the myriad ways their best-laid plans could implode. And when their plans do implode, and negative emotions kick in? Their communication gets progressively worse.

What does this mean for you, as a project manager? It means that in your efforts to get a struggling project back on track, the deck is stacked against you. The very thing you need—open, fluid communication among your stakeholders—is likely to be the one thing you won’t get. Communication takes time to rebuild once it’s broken down. You know the schedule you’re always up against. You don’t have that kind of time.

57% OF PROJECTS FAIL DUE TO BREAKDOWNS IN COMMUNICATION. –IT Cortex

The best solution for you is to prevent your project from veering off track in the first place. To do that, you’ll need to consistently and ruthlessly seek out understanding of the risks your project faces.

An Easy Project Manager Communication Tool

A significant part of our work is supporting project leaders and teams to ‘own the ugly’ around what could prevent their teams from meeting project goals. Technology is progressing faster (and workplace culture is changing faster) than at any other point in human history. Your most important work as a project manager is to be aware of when you’re lagging behind, so you can take steps to immediately redirect and get your initiative’s efforts back on course.

To launch and guide candid, “ugly” conversations about the ways your project could be at risk, you can use the “Own the Ugly” Communication Tool inspired by our best-selling book Winning Well A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul:

Own the UglyU- What are we Underestimating?

Typically, the element of project management that’s most often underestimated is communication. You and your stakeholders understand the technical and operational risks to your project. You’ve taken steps to mitigate those risks. But you can understand risk and still underestimate the impact of failure on people.

When a project begins to veer off course—when deadlines are missed and deliverables don’t produce desired results — communication breaks down. Poor communication increases the risk of your project’s failure exponentially.

Consider, are you underestimating that?

Ask yourself how can you shore up your communication channels now, before your actual encounter with any of the dozens of elements that can take your project down. Where do you need to pay closer attention to how people talk to one another? The tone of your team’s day-to-day conversations is a good indicator of the strength of their relationships. People who are in strong relationships are more likely to keep communicating under pressure.

Create space for contributors to your project to dig in and identify exactly where communication will break down first—how, why, and between whom—if goals start to be missed. In having this conversation, you’ll learn a tremendous amount about your stakeholders. You’ll discover where they are already struggling to communicate effectively with one another and, possibly, with you.

G- What’s Got to Go?

As a project manager, you know better than anyone, to succeed, projects must be agile. Conditions change, and the things that you’re doing now may not make sense anymore.

Ask your team, “Which of our processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting your time? What’s simply gotta go for you to have the time, energy, and resources to focus on what matters most to this project’s desired outcomes?”

Ask these questions now. Be fierce about purging the policies and norms that are keeping your contributors in a holding pattern. Facilitating agility is more often about subtraction than addition.

L- Where are We Losing?

Mapping out a project management strategy and following through on your plans can be a monumental effort. But what happens when you and your contributors do everything ‘right’ and still fail to make strides in meeting your project’s initial goals?

Well, then it’s time for the gloves to come off—all the way off.

Ask, “Where are you under-performing despite your best efforts, and why? Who is doing it better, and how? And, most importantly, what systems and partnerships must evolve to support your effort?”

Leading projects within a rapidly shifting business environment isn’t easy. It’s hard. Be proactive in discovering why you’re not effective. Set yourself apart from other project teams that are waiting for change to happen to them, instead of because of them.

Y- Where are We Missing the Yes?

Beyond your project’s scope lies a universe of possibility. As project manager, you know this. That’s why you keep a sharp eye on scope creep. To meet your project’s budget, timeline, and promised outcomes, you must ensure promises don’t outstrip resources.

And yet. Is the mindset to prevent scope creep holding you back from effectively assessing creative options? Are there partnerships, research, or tangential efforts that, while not strictly within your project’s parameters, could deepen your team’s results?

Every now and then, remind yourself and your team that it’s okay to remove the blinders and explore counterintuitive options. Cultivate that curiosity. And, have the uncomfortable conversations about the ways curiosity isn’t cultivated within your project and the impact of that absence.

PMI EMEA Congress 2018 Karin Hurt and David Dye

Remember—you’re going to need innovative solutions should your project’s risks ever become reality.

Won’t you join us? Are you a Europe-based Project Manager? We would love to have you join us for our session at the PMI EMEA Congress in Berlin. Click here for more information.

Download this Project Article to Share with Your Project Manager Colleagues

Would you like a printable version of this article? Click here.

See Also: 6 Reasons Even the Best Project Managers Fail 

how do i stop my boss from treating me like a kid?

How Do I Stop My Boss From Treating Me Like a Kid?

Have you ever seen this dynamic? A manager has known “a kid” on their team forever. LOVES her. WANTS the best for her. AND is ironically holding her back. If you ask “the kid,” (who also loves and respects said manager), it’s because he just “can’t stop treating me like a kid. I know I’ve grown. How do I convince him?”

We call this the “Tommy syndrome.” Tom is ready for what’s next, but his well-meaning manager can’t stop thinking about him as Tommy.

Dear Karin and David,

I’ve grown so much as a leader. I’ve gone back to school. Worked hard as a volunteer leader in my professional associations. My team’s results are solid. But my boss doesn’t give me a chance. I’m her go-to guy to get stuff done, but when it comes to presenting to senior leaders, or for stretch assignments, she seems to give those opportunities to the folks she’s hired in the last few years. I know I have the deeper personal relationship, and I value all I’ve learned from her. But honestly, I wonder if I should start looking outside for a fresh start.

Signed,

A Grown-Up #AskingForAFriend

How Do I Stop My Boss From Treating Me Like a Kid?

  1. Don’t act like a kid.
    This may seem like the most obvious answer, but we often find that this familiarity goes both ways. Don’t over-disclose your frustrations, your insecurities, or ask for extra guidance or concessions. Act the part of the role you want.
  2. Approach one-on-ones as organized as if you’re in a new job.
    Our free MIT huddle planner can help you organize your thoughts and prepare for your discussions. Treat every one-on-one as if it were an interview for the next role. Bring that level of professionalism and preparation.
  3. Ditch the Diaper Genie® and clearly state your goals.
    Be straightforward with your manager and tell her that you would like to be considered for the role that interests you. Ask her what skills and competencies you need to demonstrate to be qualified for consideration. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking. David’s first middle-level management promotion came when he actively said, “I want to do that.” The organization had been looking externally until he expressed interest.
  4. Get real about expectations.
    What does success really look like for your current role and at the next level? Be sure you’re crystal clear about your manager’s expectations. Here’s another approach that can help. Often, your manager isn’t sharing where you’re not meeting expectations because they see you as a known quantity and don’t want to jeopardize the relationship. Be clear that you want to exceed the requirements of your current role and get the feedback you need to know where you’re not meeting the mark.
  5. Play bigger.
    To be seen as a thought-partner, you’ve got to act like one. Start thinking and speaking strategically. What are the business concerns that keep your boss’s boss up at night? What goals must they achieve to be successful? In interactions with your boss and her colleagues, start speaking in terms of these initiatives and concerns.
  6. When you’re overlooked, have an honest conversation.
    Once you’ve done all of the above for several months, if you’re not considered for the next opportunity, it’s time for another conversation. You might say something like, “It seems like you don’t consider me as qualified for these roles. Do I have that right?” Pause and let them respond. See what additional information you uncover. If it’s not obvious, ask again what skills, behaviors, and achievements you need to demonstrate to be considered.
  7. Change your context.
    Some people will always have a difficult time seeing you differently than the person you were when they first met you. If you try all of these tactics and you’re still not being seen the way you’d like, check with a mentor or some other colleagues to verify that it’s not something you’re failing to do. If you’re doing everything you can and nothing changes, you may have to change your context where you new professionalism and strategic thinking are seen without the baggage of history.

Your turn. What advice would you give A Grown Up so their boss stops treating them like a kid?

Have a leadership or management question? Send it here and we’ll do our best to share our perspective.  You might also enjoy our Fast Company article on 10 Excuses that Silently Damage Manager’s Careers

 

leadership competencies: how to hold a great interview

How to Interview For Winning Leadership Competencies

You’re working hard to build a Winning Well culture. You’ve identified your MIT leadership competencies and are working to cultivate and encourage the right behaviors. How you staff your key leadership roles matters more now than ever.

How will you identify the very best candidates for reinforcing your Winning Well culture?  How will you identify the candidates who really exhibit Winning Well leadership competencies, versus those who just talk a good game?

Be sure you’re asking strategic questions that require candidates to share how they’ve actually demonstrated the leadership competencies you’re selecting for.

Here a few strategic, behavior-based interview questions based on eight key behaviors we build in our Winning Well training programs. and keynote speeches.

We encourage you to weave a few of them into your next interview.

Winning Well Leadership Interview Guide

RESULTS

how to help your middle managers find their sweet spot

Tell me about a time when you had way too much to do—how did you decide what was most important? How did you prioritize? What was the outcome?

Describe three ways you work to communicate and reinforce expectations on your team.

Tell me about at a time you helped turn around a serious performance issue. What was your approach? What was the outcome?

play the game don't game the score

What metrics do you use to measure your success in your current role? How do you keep your team focused on achieving those outcomes?

What do you see as the most critical behaviors in this new position? How would you go about reinforcing them?

Can you tell me about a time a supervisor wanted you to focus on something you knew wasn’t a priority for your customer, your team, or the company? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?

RELATIONSHIPS

Describe the best team you ever worked on. What was your role in making it a success?

When you are working on a strategic project in your current job, how do you go about identifying the relevant stakeholders? How do you get them involved?

Can you tell me about a time you joined a new team and how you built trust with your new teammates?

trust the trenches

Tell me about a project where you successfully delegated some important tasks. How did you decide what to delegate and to whom?

How do you help your team recover from setbacks?

Can you share a time where one of your team members had a new perspective and how you were able to incorporate it into your work?

CONFIDENCE

what makes you a rock star in your role? What makes you a rock star in your current role? How would you leverage those strengths in this new position?

Tell me about a time you had to make a tough decision with limited information. What was the situation? How did you approach it?

What are your favorite techniques for building confidence and competence in your team members?

ditch the diaper drama #WinningWellTell me about a time you had a really tough conversation with an employee. How did you approach it? What was the outcome?

Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and you how implemented it.  What was the situation? Who was involved? What did you do? What was the outcome?

Can you share a time when you seriously disagreed with your boss and were convinced you were right? How did you address it? What was the outcome?

HUMILITY

Own the UglyWhat’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made at work? How did you recover?

Describe a time a project you were leading did not turn out as you had hoped.  What was the situation? Who was involved? What did you do? What was the outcome?

What is the most difficult apology you’ve ever had to make at work? What made it challenging? How did you do it?

What tools and techniques do you use to get feedback from your team?

How would you describe your conflict style? Tell me about a time that you had a significant conflict at work where that style served you well. Tell me about a time when that style got in the way.

Who are your most important stakeholders in your current role? How do you go about getting feedback from them?

Some other innovative interview questions that help uncover leadership competencies

Inc. 9 Interview Questions You Need to Be Asking

LinkedIn: Hiring For Trust: 9 Interview Questions

Fast Company: 7 Interview Questions for Measuring Emotional Intelligence

Your Turn

What are some of your favorite interview questions to ensure you have leaders that are committed to Winning Well?