Project Management

How Leaders Can Develop Great Remote Management Skills

Remote work is growing in popularity, but succeeding as a remote
manager isn’t the same thing as being able to manage remote
workers effectively.

Unfortunately, managers who lead partially- or fully-remote
teams — but who don’t have remote work experience of their own
— may not understand what employees need to be successful in
these environments.

Whether you’re a new remote team manager or an established
leader looking to improve your remote management skills, keep the
following nine tips in mind:

Tip #1: Practice working remote

Here’s a quick and easy way to become a better remote manager:
if you don’t have remote work experience yourself, create it by
working remotely voluntarily for a few weeks.

With permission from your higher-ups, relocate temporarily to
your home office, a local coworking space, or even your
neighborhood coffee shop. Doing so will make the challenges
associated with remote work immediately apparent, improving both
your empathy for the remote experience and your ability to create
conditions that allow distributed team members to thrive.

Tip #2: Set expectations and routines around communication

One of the challenges employees associate with remote work is a
feeling of disconnection from the team — especially if it’s
only partially distributed, and some members of the group are able
to work together in an office setting.

Improving this negative sentiment requires a multi-pronged
approach, yet one simple way to create a sense of belonging is
through established communication routines.

Set times for weekly stand-ups, one-on-one meetings, and even
team brainstorming sessions. When remote workers know how and when
they’ll be able to connect with others, get information, and
receive support, they’re likely to feel less isolated from the
rest of their team.

Tip #3: Be meticulous about note-taking and documentation

Despite their best intentions, remote managers can sometimes
fall victim to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This
can be particularly challenging when impromptu brainstorming
sessions fail to bring in all relevant remote team members —
potentially leaving them out-of-the-loop on major updates or

It may not always be feasible to loop in remote team members at
a moment’s notice, especially if you’re working across
different time zones. But you can make a concerted effort to
document any discussions that took place in order to share new
findings or insights with all relevant parties.

Tip #4: Invest in the right tools to deliver these expectations and

Blissfully’s 2019 Annual
SaaS Trends Report
found that the average employee uses eight
apps and that this number increases as company size grows.

Your remote team isn’t the place to skimp on your tech stack.
Plenty of solutions exist today that make it possible for you to
deliver on the communication and documentation standards you set
for your team and yourself.

At a minimum, you’ll want to have:

  • A chat tool for quick check-ins and status updates
  • A project management system like LiquidPlanner for team
    and project visibility
  • An intranet or cloud storage drive for sharing files
  • A design annotation tool for sharing creative feedback
  • A video conferencing solution like Vast
    for remote meetings

Tip #5: Look for and eliminate barriers preventing collaboration

Just because you’ve built your remote team tech stack
doesn’t mean you can sit back and assume your job is done. As a
remote manager, it’s up to you to continually monitor your
team’s usage of the systems you’ve chosen to identify barriers
to collaboration that may still exist.

Check-in with your team members regularly to make sure they’re
happy with the solutions you’re using. If frustrations exist with
individual tools, they won’t be used — and there are simply too
many tools out there to stick with one that isn’t working for
your team’s specific needs.

Tip #6: Use video conferencing as a relationship-building tool

As mentioned above, video conferencing can be useful for running
remote meetings, but don’t overlook its importance as a
culture-building tool.

As an example, the team at Zapier hosts weekly “pair buddy
chats,” where 2-3 people within the company are randomly matched
for quick hangouts. According to Wade Foster, writing for
Zapier’s blog
, “Pair buddy chats help keep some semblance
of the office social life as part of work and encourage people who
work in different departments to get to know each other

Though Foster’s team conducts these sessions via chat tool,
arranging for them to be held via video conferencing can help forge
important social bonds that reduce social isolation and improve
overall morale.

Tip #7: Learn to recognize more subtle signs of conflict

In remote work environments — where you don’t typically have
regular exposure to team members’ body language, tone of voice,
and other nonverbal communication signals — it can be easy to
miss the early signs of growing conflict. And even if you do catch
them, dealing with them appropriately requires a willingness to
address them head-on, rather than sweep them under the rug.

One of the easiest ways to increase your awareness into remote
team members’ frustrations is to develop an understanding of
their baseline communication habits. Dry humor from a team member
may not be cause for concern if that’s their standard operating
procedure. But increased negativity coming from a generally
positive worker, on the other hand, could be cause for concern.

If you see these types of changes or other signs of potential
conflict, address them proactively. If the employee was in the
office next to you, you may be able to keep a watchful eye instead
to see if the situation improves. But without this day-to-day
exposure, you need to be more direct about raising any concerns
that arise so that they can be successfully managed.

Tip #8: Develop trust by following through on commitments and
holding team members accountable to theirs

Establishing a successful remote work environment requires a
tremendous amount of trust. As a manager, you’ve got to trust
workers to handle their responsibilities on their own, without your
direct oversight. And as workers, your team members have to trust
that you’re looking out for them and defending their performance
to others in order to feel secure in their positions.

This type of broad, sweeping trust doesn’t happen
automatically. Instead, it’s built over time as you follow
through on the commitments you’ve made to remote team members. If
you’ve scheduled meetings for specific times, follow through. If
you’ve promised to come back to someone with an update, don’t
make them chase you down for more information.

When team members know that they can take you at your word —
and that you’ll hold them to the same expectations — they’ll
be much more likely to trust you on bigger picture issues.

Tip #9: Stay out of the way

One of the best things you can do as a remote manager? Simply
stay out of the way. Don’t be an unnecessary roadblock that keeps
others from doing their jobs.

Presumably, you’ve hired people who are well-suited to remote
work and who are competent at their jobs. If both of these
conditions are true, there’s no reason to micromanage team
members. Trust that they’ll do their jobs, and then let them get
to work. You can always address issues that arise, but if you try
to directly manage every aspect of the performance of workers you
may never meet in person, you’ll actually limit their performance
and demolish morale unnecessarily.

Being a great remote manager may not come naturally, but it is
something you can achieve through regular practice and thoughtful
leadership. Put the nine tips above into practice, and watch your
remote team’s performance soar.

What other tips would you add to this list? Leave a note
sharing your suggestions in the comments below:

The post
How Leaders Can Develop Great Remote Management Skills
first on LiquidPlanner.

Project Management

Rebuilding Your Confidence After Project Failure

I’ve just left a six-month contract for a project
which ended up in a failure for all sorts of reasons. It has really
knocked my confidence. How can I start to get over this and get
back out there?

First thing, take a step back, and don’t think about jumping
straight back into another role. You need to give yourself
permission to take some time for reflection. What do we mean by
reflection? I guess it could also be called your own ‘lessons
learnt’ as we often refer to it in project management speak.

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit-hole into negative self-talk
and overthinking what went wrong, what could you have done better
and so on. We often forget that projects have a habit of doing this
– going wrong! And we also know they go wrong for lots of
reasons, not just our own actions to blame.

It’s the combination of different factors and we can start by
understanding the bigger picture of what happened over that six
months and start to rationalise it. I think you’ll soon start to
see that some of it was way out of your control and other parts,
yes, sure you could have chosen a different way to tackle

Once you’ve started to take that step back, removed the
emotion out of it, you can start to get that project manager hat
back on again and think about what you’ve learnt from the six
months in a practical sense. It’s about taking something positive
away from
every assignment you
have regardless of how the project played out.

In my experience there are three great ways to leave a bad
assignment behind and move on. The first is all about addressing
your confidence levels. Take some time out and spend some of that
on your own professional development. Yes, take a course you’ve
been meaning to for a while. New knowledge has a habit of making us
feel reenergised and reinvigorated – ready to take something new
on again.

Doing this also leads to the second way to get over something
like this – be more discerning with the next assignment you take
on. If there is one lesson we can learn is to make sure you don’t
take another assignment with all the same hallmarks. That means
you’re going to be selective with the interviews you attend and
when you do, you’re going to think about the questions that need
to be asked during that interview to undercover what the assignment
is really all about.

The third way – and one which all project managers should be
mindful of and that’s just to talk it out with someone you trust.
Many project managers also find solace in finding a coach or mentor
for a while to help them overcome what they might perceive as their
own failings. We all know that project management is a high-stress
profession, and we need to remember we’re all human at the end of
the day and we must be kinder to ourselves.

The post
Rebuilding Your Confidence After Project Failure
appeared first
on arraspeople.

Project Management

What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago

As celebrates its 20th anniversary, Mark
Mullaly-who has been a contributor since our very first year-shares
insights that he would most want his younger self to know,
appreciate and learn from.

Project Management

Project Management in 2000: Lessons From a Seasoned PM’s Journal Entries

As celebrates its 20th anniversary, Joe
Wynne-a contributor since our very first year-shares a sampling of
his PM journal entries from two decades ago!

Project Management

An Unexpected Journey: 20 Years and Counting

As celebrates its 20th anniversary, author
Michael Wood–who has contributed since our very first year–looks
back at his introduction to the site, and how its evolved.

Project Management

20 Years, 20 Timeless PM Lessons is 20 years old! To celebrate this milestone,
we look back at 20 lessons our subject matter experts have shared
over the last two decades-one for each year!

Decision Making

Sad Consequences of a Culture of Fear

What happens when a culture of fear takes hold in an
organization? How can it put an entire enterprise at risk?
The story of Sasol, the South African integrated energy and
chemicals company, offers some stark lessons. Bloomberg
reported this week on problems with two giant projects at the
company: a ethane cracker plant in Louisiana and a wax project in
Sasolburg, South Africa. In both cases, massive cost overruns and
schedule delays took place. The Board remained in the dark for
quite some time, unaware of how bad things had really become.
Here's an excerpt from the article by
Antony Sguazzin and Paul Burkhardt:

But Sasol’s struggle to break with a long-standing
command culture, in which executives are rarely questioned,
threatens to bring the global expansion of one of South Africa’s
most successful corporations to a halt. Shareholders have
turned on Sasol in the aftermath of massive cost overruns and
delays at a chemical facility that’s now nearing completion in
Louisiana. The company fired its co-chief executive officers,
Stephen Cornell and Bongani Nqwababa, in October, saying a
“culture of fear’’ of managers overseeing the Lake Charles
project had contributed to its failures.

A report by South African law firm Werksmans Attorneys
examined the troubles at the wax plant. The article states that,
"The report showed how employees concealed bad news about the wax
plant from the board and made overly optimistic assumptions
pertaining to expected profits from the project." Haven't we
heard that description about so many other organizations that have
found themselves thrust into a crisis due in large part to the
consequences of a culture of fear?

Now, Fleetwood Grobler has become CEO, and he's trying to
change the culture. Unfortunately, significant damage has been
done. It seems that it will be a massive effort to create a
climate of psychological safety at the firm.

Project Management

Promote Creativity for Better Team Problem-Solving

Stay out of the way but be supportive to help teams create better
solutions to problems that arise during projects. It will speed
things up, help you manage risk and reduce impact to your schedule.

Project Management

Nurturing Creativity: A Leader’s Role

It doesn't matter how creative a project manager is if they operate
in an environment that stifles that creativity. That's where
leaders have a critical role to play.

Project Management

Why Productivity in Project Businesses is Flatlining?

The following article is the part two in a series of four on
‘Project Business’ and is authored by Daniel Bévort – part
one certainly seemed to draw some interest and some comment so
please, like, share and comment on this one as well.


Project Business is a significant portion of all companies.
Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all businesses are Project
Businesses, companies that provide products and/or services for
their customers through projects. Unfortunately, failure to
identify as a Project Business and the lack of Project Business
thinking can lead to many problems that impact business
performance, productivity and ultimately, profitability.

Once you look at the fundamentals and recognize your business as
a Project Business, you can start to see:

· Why your business isn’t running as well as it

· Where the problems are

· What you need to do to solve them

By structuring your Project Business processes you will be able
to analyze what systems need to change and what solutions are

Let’s take a step back and discuss why Project Businesses are
not optimized for success. Why do they suffer from low

Compared to other industries, where productivity has steadily
increased, productivity in Project Businesses has remained stagnant
and even declined.

If we look at this McKinsey
& Company study
, one of the main reasons stems from poor
project management and the lack of technological innovation and
adoption. The inability to utilize technology to improve processes
and information flow is a major reason why Project Business lags in
productivity. More specifically, why they are often faced with
budget overruns and project delays.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the specifics:

Poor organization: Project Businesses tend to
have separate systems and sets of data for different stages or
parts of their projects. This disjointed structure not only causes
delays, but also hinders insight. In addition, most Project
Businesses lack standardization and integration. Processes aren’t
uniform, and they often rely on individuals who take extreme
liberties with them. As a result, it’s difficult to control the
business functions and create standard metrics to measure

Inadequate communication: When managing
projects, establishing the right communication strategies ensures
that all stakeholders are on the same page. Scheduling,
timekeeping, resource management, accounting, budgeting, can all be
managed in separate systems. It’s important to create the right
sequence of processes and proper networks across the organization
so everyone who needs to be informed has access to the data at any
point during a project’s life cycle. Inconsistences in reporting
mean that stakeholders don’t have a common understanding of how
the project is doing in real time.

Flawed performance management: Oftentimes,
Project Businesses run their business units and projects as
independent entities, without consistency across the portfolio and
company. This leads to the “silo effect.” Project Businesses
that don’t standardize their operations and project reporting
across the company aren’t able to manage their risks as well as
they could. In addition, they cannot apply the best practices
discovered from one project to the next. Let’s face it, if you
can’t measure performance, you can’t improve it. The key to
operational excellence is scalable and predictable business

Missed connections: There are different levels
of planning, from high-end preparation to day-by-day programs.
Schedulers need to know if the daily work isn’t done so they can
update the priorities in real time. However, they often don’t
have this information. Today’s real-time economy demands
visibility into what’s going on inside your company. Failure to
integrate all project functions into one system leads to
organizational inefficiencies, delays, budget overruns and poor

Insufficient risk management: Although Project
Businesses pay considerable attention to long-term risks that they
identify at the beginning of a project, they tend not to give the
same attention to the kinds of risks that might crop up during the
project in real time. In order to manage milestones and deadlines
to ensure the successful delivery of projects, it’s important to
be aware early on when project plans slide. A lack of real-time
insight into your operations will result in increased risk and
ultimately, decreased profitability.

The Way Forward

When you recognize that the bulk of what you do is projects and
you are a Project Business, you develop a new way of thinking and
the ability to recognize new solutions. Project Businesses need to
operate with similar transparency and control as traditional
industries. As projects get bigger in size and complexity, it’s
critical to implement a Project Business structure that improves
the chances of success of those projects.

The next blog will cover three key steps Project Businesses need
to implement in order to improve productivity, better manage
projects and lessen the chances of budget overruns.

Peter: This is also something my friend Oliver F. Lehmann would
acknowledge and support through his Project Business
Foundation as
do I , having worked in the world of ‘Project Business’ for
most of my working life.

Daniel Bévort: Founder & CEO

Prior to founding ADEACA, Daniel was a principal architect of
Axapta at Damgaard Data, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2002
for $1.6B and became Microsoft’s ERP offering, now called
Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. Daniel recognized that
every traditional industry has systems to integrate and control all
their business processes, but that is not the case for
project-based industries. ADEACA was founded to accomplish that
same vision for these neglected industries and find a way to run
project business with real-time information and much better