When you are really busy, where should you focus your attention as a project manager? It’s unrealistic to think that you can achieve everything. If you are anything like me you’ll have a really long To Do list and no real chance of getting it all done by the end of the month, let alone the end of the day.
Prioritisation is the answer. It’s the only way that you’ll get what needs to happen done while not letting anyone down. When you have to decide between project activities, these are the essentials: communication, risk management, team management and scheduling. If I have to decide what to drop on any given day, it won’t be one of these.
Project management is probably around 80% communication. You communicate with your team, with stakeholders, with your project sponsor, with end users, with other departments and subject matter experts and professional groups outside of your company such as government and regulatory bodies. In fact, you never stop communicating: there is always someone who wants the latest status report or the chance to stop you in the corridor and ask for an ad hoc status update.
The best way to manage your communications is to have a clear plan (you can read 7 steps to a good communications plan here). The benefit of having a good communications plan for your project is that it automates some of the thinking, leaving you to get on with the doing. Spending time on your project comms plan upfront will save you lots of time later, so it’s certainly a task worth doing well. Read more »
Last week we looked at the personal qualities that help you manage project risk more effectively. This week I wanted to look at something similar: the skills you need to be able to tackle project issue management effectively.
You might think that they are the same but there are some key differences, namely that when you are talking about risk you are talking about things that have not yet happened. When you talk about and need to act on issues, they are very real and are affecting your project right now.
Let’s dive in to the 5 soft skills that I think are important for managing project issues.
This problem is a big deal for someone. They have raised it with you and, if it wasn’t flagged as a risk, it could well be the first time you are hearing about it. Don’t dismiss their problem. It might not seem important to you but this issue is having an effect on the way they work, so it’s important to take it seriously. Read more »
Managing risk is often considered a technical project management skill. There is a formal process to move a risk through from a concept or worry that someone has to a fully-analysed potential problem with an action plan, and then through to closure once the mitigation work has completed or the risk has passed.
However, there are some important personal qualities, or soft skills, that make some project managers better at managing risk than others. You can learn these – they aren’t innate so it’s perfectly possible to improve your risk management skills by practicing these soft skills and improving those too.
A project manager needs to be able to listen effectively when it comes to managing risk. Why? Because they need to understand the problem. If you don’t listen you’ll have no chance of following the arguments put forward by the project team member who identified the risk. You’ll also put your listening skills to the test when you are working together to come up with solutions – risk situations can be fast-paced as the environment changes and impacts the risk event, so you’ll need to keep listening to your experts to keep up.
Ask probing questions. Rephrase what you have heard and repeat it back to the person raising the point – this is a great way to clarify your own understanding. And if you are the kind of person whose mind wanders a bit during long technical debates then don’t be afraid to ask for an executive summary! Read more »
Value management is something that project managers should be aware of. In fact, the Association for Project Management in the UK has a specific interest group dedicated to value management. It’s a structured approach to defining what value means to a business and that’s essential to make sure that projects are aligned to strategy. A value management framework should give you the ability to define what your company needs, any problems and opportunities and then take these and review what the right solution should be.
Sounds difficult? The main problem with value management is that it’s subjective. And that applies whether you are dealing with what the company values as a whole (like “we value environmental credentials”) or at a project level (such as “As your sponsor I value quality over budget on this project”). Different people will have a different view of what is important. At corporate level you would expect there to be some kind of agreement and strategic take on what the company values – that’s essential as it can help prioritise projects (criteria around value should be part of the project selection process). But at project level when you are dealing with a number of different stakeholders it can be difficult to get agreement about what’s important. Read more »
Hiring new employees is not an easy task and can be extremely stressful. Many employers, thus, constantly try to investigate and come up with new ways in which they can make this entire stressful process much easier for them.
With technologies such as webcams and video conferencing, conducting virtual interviews is now a possibility and could easily become a new way to hire future employees.
Virtual interviews can be conducted from within the comfort of an employer’s home or office, and this is perhaps a great advantage in conducting virtual interviews. These are essentially like other job interviews. However, they are different in that the manner that these interviews are conducted is via the Internet instead of in person. This essentially means that interviewers would not have to set aside extra time to meet with the candidates on a particular day in or outside of the city, and you will not have to invite any strangers inside your office or home. You might as well take the interview in your pajamas and you can easily conduct these video interviews on Blue Jeans video conferencing software.
Types of Virtual Interviews
According to HH Staffing, virtual interviews consist of two basic types; with the first one involving a recording of the job applicant while they answer all of the interview questions in the style of a video resume. In this, the employers would send a video to the applicant consisting of interview questions, or email the list of questions to them. The interviewees would then have to record their answers to the questions in the format of a video and send it over to the employer so that the video can be reviewed.
The other virtual interview type is a two way process where interviews are conducted live and involves the interviewer and interviewing interacting with each other in real time as though it were a physical meeting, except it’s through computer screens.
Virtual interviews are a great way for employers to hunt out talent in an effective manner. They are especially useful when interviewing candidates that are not situated in the same geographical location as that of the interviewers.
Advantages of Virtual Interviews
When an employee needs to be hired outside of the area that the business is situated in, it takes a lot of funds in order to fly the applicant to the required destination in order to carry out their interview. When the same interview is performed online, the hiring process becomes much easier and cost effective, especially since the company does not have to spend heavily on purchasing air tickets, as emphasized by Recruiting Trends. They would not even have to waste fuel in order to travel to any nearby location that the interviewee wants their information taken at. All they would be required to do is to sit comfortably in their office space and let the interviewee be comfortable in their home while they conduct the interview.
A Successful Woman raves about how conducting a virtual interview saves time as it can be scheduled whenever it is possible for both the people involved, and not just during regular business hours. The time is also saved in the sense that with the help of virtual interviews, there will no longer be any need to travel to other locations in order to conduct the interviews.
When you interview candidates through video conferencing programs, it makes it possible for you to really be able to tell how capable the applicants are in terms of their understanding of technology. When a company knows that an applicant can master the usage of an online program, they can determine whether a certain candidate is fit for a job or not, especially if the position is for something technology driven.
Are Virtual Interviews for You?
Virtual interviews are truly gaining a lot of importance and popularity all thanks to the many advantages and benefits that they offer to the companies. A study conducted by PGi showed that since 2011, online job interviews have increased by as much as 49 percent, with 66 percent of the candidates actually preferring to be interviewed over the Internet. The numbers of HR managers that are known to make use of video conferencing to interview candidates are 6 in every 10, which will significantly increase in the near future. Another very significant advantage of taking interviews over the Internet as opposed to the traditional methods over the phone is that virtual interviews can look into the non verbal part of communication of the candidate as well.
Virtual interviews play an important role in making the hiring process much more effective and efficient for the company. These interviews are a great way to judge a candidate’s skills for the job and make sure that they make the right decision while hiring someone. Apart from this, virtual interviews are also far more constructive.