Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Use It or Lose It!

It's that time of year - where that is a variable for things like: "holiday", "peace", "joy", "depression", etc. For agency and client staff, it's Use-It-or-Lose-It (UIoLI) time. By UIoLI I'm referring both to:
  • clients' end-of-the year rush to spend their budgets in order to squeeze out a last bit of performance or to justify next year's budget.
  • vacation days & corporate policies for roll-over (or not as the case may be).
 These two UIoLI events come to a nasty head at the end of year. To a lesser extent, summer time with its holidays and summer Fridays, also has similar issues.
How can a dedicated agency person, leave her client, or for that matter, her team in the lurch during these critical times of year? This conundrum becomes even more complex because people both have long-standing plans, or faced with UIoLI, slap together last-minute trips. To turn up the temperature a few more degrees, on the client-side the same thing is happening, making the end of the year pretty much the sloppiest, most pressured, time of the year.

It only took me a few cycles of being one of the few saps (dedicated employees?) still in the office at 11pm on 12/23 and 7/3 to begin managing my and my team's vacation schedules. One approach I've taken rounding the Q3 corner, when my team wasn't burning their vacation days fast enough was to implement Winter Fridays, where they could at least enjoy some additional 3-day weekends. If someone has two weeks of unused vacation coming onto the 4th quarter, they can pretty much work it out so that they can have 4-day weeks for the rest of the year. Another approach was to encourage them to come in late or leave early. Of course, the "good" ones (you guys know who you are) would still manage to put in over 50+ hours, even in those shortened weeks. At least they got some down-time that they otherwise would not have had.

Their are many benefits to encouraging (or as some of the business literature suggests, "forcing") your team to take time off, including: higher retention rates and increased morale to learning time-management skills and driving productivity. The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Business Week and many others have written extensively about these issues.

So, if you're not fortunate enough to live in a state like California, where vacation days are considered earned wages that roll-over from year to year, take the time you deserve. Trust me, you and everyone around you will be better off than if you give them back to the man.

1 comment:

  1. Tag: PM201A53. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

    1. Plan your day using time management techniques

    As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

    If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

    Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

    2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

    While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

    Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

    Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

    3. Regularly communicate with your team

    Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

    For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

    4. Anticipate project setbacks

    Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

    Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

    Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

    Related post: 92 free project management templates

    5. Stay focused on the details

    A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

    Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

    And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs