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Use the Power of Positive Thinking

To Achieve the Impossible

The Power of Positive Thinking

Do you know how the power of positive thinking can help your projects succeed?
Keeping a positive attitude at work is one of the most powerful actions you can take. Not only can
your attitude influence everything around you, but you have complete control over it.
By approaching a new project in a positive way you can achieve what others consider impossible.
Joseph M. Juran, the 20th century quality management guru, defined a project as "a problem
scheduled for solution." And some of those problems can be really hairy.
When a challenging problem lands on your desk as a newly assigned project, it's critical that you
approach it with the right attitude. Your attitude at the beginning of the project will affect its outcome
more than anything else.
Some people will immediately react to this type of challenging assignment in a negative way. They
begin by finding answers to the question, "Why can't this project be done?"

We don't have enough time.

We've never done a project like this before.

The budget's not even enough to cover travel.

Negative answers such as these begin to reinforce each other and soon the project manager starts to
see the project as a "Mission Impossible."
However, by approaching a challenging project in a positive way you will be able to find solutions
instead of roadblocks.
The question you need to answer is...
"What would it take to successfully complete this project?"
When answering this question, it's OK to play around with the different constraints. For example, in
one scenario assume you have unlimited time whereas in another assume money isn't a factor. Be
creative here. This will help you identify different options and could also lead to new, innovative

You won't always be able to come up with a strategy that will allow you to meet the project
requirements as given. In those cases, you will need to work with the project sponsor to determine
which would be the best option to move forward with or if the project should even proceed at all.
By making sure you approach a new project with a positive attitude your manager and project sponsor
will be confident that they chose the right person for the job and you will build credibility with the
project team.
Using the power of positive thinking, you will soon become the "Go To" leader for business critical
projects and have the best people wanting to be part of your team.

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Setting SMART Goals

Successful Goal Setting

Setting SMART goals is one of the most powerful and practical skills a project manager needs to
master. In both your personal life and your professional career,setting and achieving goals can mean
the difference between wild success and mediocrity.
The key to effective goal setting is to make sure your goal is well-defined. A well-defined goal allows
individuals and teams to focus on critical activities by providing guidance and boundaries. If a goal is
not defined well, it can lead to wasted effort and even result in decreased team motivation.
There are five criteria that a well-defined goal meets. These criteria are represented by the
mnemonic SMART.

Well-defined goals are...

A well-defined goal is specific. It should be clear to anyone reading the goal exactly what the
goal should achieve. Vague goals produce vague results, so make sure your goals are

A well-defined goal is measurable. It should have a quantifiable measurement that you can
use to determine whether the goal has been met or not. Measurements can be in any relevant
unit such as cost, quantity, or efficiency.

A well-defined goal is achievable. It's OK to have "stretch" goals, but even then it is important
for team members to feel they can still achieve them. Making sure the goal is within their
control and influence can give them the confidence they need to achieve it.

A well-defined goal is relevant. Making sure the goal is important for achieving the project's
vision or meeting a personal target will help people get motivated to accomplish it.

A well-defined goal is time-bound. It should have a target date for when it should be

Incorporating SMART criteria into your goal definitions is important forsuccessful goal setting.
You can find more articles about effective goal setting strategies below.

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Time Management Tools & Techniques

for Project Managers

Time Management Tools & Techniques

To be an effective project manager, you need a basic set of personal time management tools and
techniques at your disposal.
When you are leading a project, you will have many demands on your time. From coordinating
activities to helping resolve conflicts between team members, it will seem like there are too many
things to do and not enough time to get them done.
Effective time management is about proactively planning how your time will be spent. The 3-step
approach described here is a simple system that can make you more productive and effective...

To Do List

Weekly Review

Time Blocking

Using these three time management techniques and tools will give you a solid foundation to build
your own personal time management system.

Step 1: To Do List
To be an effective project manager, you need to make sure the actions you are responsible for get
done. If you make a habit of overlooking or forgetting to do some actions, people in your organization
will begin to lose confidence in you.
One of the simplest yet most effective tools you can use to make sure you stay on top of your tasks is
the To Do List. Your To Do List should capture ALL actions that you need to take in the near- to midterm to meet your commitments and goals.
There are different ways that you can structure and organize your To Do List. Most managers sort
their list by Due Date or Task Priority. But the main point is to make sure you are using one.

Step 2: Weekly Review

The Weekly Review is a powerful way to effectively manage your time. It allows you to review all of
the actions you need to take and then identify those that are more important and should be prioritized.
During your Weekly Review you should update your To Do List as necessary. Then go through your
list and decide which activities you need to focus on this week. It's important that you don't select too

many tasks. If you select too many tasks you will end up unfocused and most likely won't be able to
complete them all.
Performing a Weekly Review will help make sure you focus some of your time on important tasks.
Otherwise, it's very easy to keep busy on so called urgent tasks or end up just wasting time.

Step 3: Time Blocking

The final step in this system is to use a technique called Time Blocking. Once you've identified your
important, MUST DO tasks during your Weekly Review, you should block off some time in your
calendar to focus on each individual task. You are essentially scheduling time with yourself to
complete these important tasks.
When blocking off time to complete your tasks, make sure to leave openings in your calendar to
handle unexpected interruptions such as those urgent tasks that come up or when a team member
stops by to discuss the project with you.
Using the time management tools and techniques in this simple 3-step system can help you become
a more productive and effective project manager.
You can find more tips on time management techniques and tools below.

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Problem Solving Techniques

& Strategies
Learn which problem solving techniques and strategies can help you effectively handle
the challenges you face everyday.
Some problems are small and can be resolved quickly. Other problems are large and may require
significant time and effort to solve. These larger problems are often tackled by turning them into
formal projects.
"A project is a problem scheduled for solution."
- Joseph M. Juran
Whether the problem you are focusing on is small or large, using a systematic approach for solving it
will help you be a more effective project manager.
This approach defines five problem solving steps you can use for most problems...

Define the Problem

Determine the Causes

Generate Ideas

Select the Best Solution

Take Action

Define the Problem

The most important of the problem solving steps is to define the problem correctly. The way you
define the problem will determine how you attempt to solve it.
For example, if you receive a complaint about one of your project team members from a client, the
solutions you come up with will be different based on the way you define the problem.
If you define the problem as poor performance by the team member you will develop different
solutions than if you define the problem as poor expectation setting with the client.

Determine the Causes

Once you have defined the problem, you are ready to dig deeper and start to determine what is
causing it.
If you consider the problem as a gap between where you are now and where you want to be, the
causes of the problem are the obstacles that are preventing you from closing that gap immediately.
This level of analysis is important to make sure your solutions address the actual causes of the
problem instead of the symptoms of the problem. If your solution fixes a symptom instead of an actual
cause, the problem is likely to reoccur since it was never truly solved.

Generate Ideas
Once the hard work of defining the problem and determining its causes has been completed, it's time
to get creative and develop possible solutions to the problem.
Two great problem solving methods you can use for coming up with solutions
are brainstorming and mind mapping.

Select the Best Solution

After you come up with several ideas that can solve the problem, oneproblem solving technique you
can use to decide which one is the best solution to your problem is a simple trade-off analysis.
To perform the trade-off analysis, define the critical criteria for the problem that you can use to
evaluate how each solution compares to each other. The evaluation can be done using a simple
matrix. The highest ranking solution will be your best solution for this problem.

Take Action
Once you've determined which solution you will implement, it's time to take action. If the solution
involves several actions or requires action from others, it is a good idea to create an action plan and
treat it as a mini-project.
Using this simple five-step approach can increase the effectiveness of yourproblem solving skills.
For more problem solving strategies and techniques, check out the articles listed below.

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Decision Making Skills

And Techniques
Decision making skills are critical for business success. The quality of your decisions will determine
your effectiveness as a project manager and leader.

Decision Making Techniques

Every day, project managers make many decisions. Most of these decisions are trivial and can be
made using "common sense."

However, some of these decisions have major impacts on the project, team members, or the business
in general. For these cases, making an intuitive, "gut feel" decision can result in a poor choice with
significant negative consequences.
To minimize negative consequences, decisions that are complex or have a high impact should be
made using a systematic decision making model.
Some of the factors that make a decision complex are...

Several Alternatives

Significant Uncertainties

Multiple stakeholders

Some of the factors that make a decision high impact are...

Financial Consequences

Life-or-Death Consequences

Business Perception or Reputation

Developing your skills in decision making will help you determine whether an intuitive or analytical
approach should be used. Over time, making good decisions will become second nature to you.
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The Importance of Communication Skills in Project Management

Communication Skills are Essential
The importance of communication skills for project managers can't be emphasized enough.

Examples of Project Communication

Water Cooler Chats

Project managers spend a lot of time communicating with individuals and groups.
In fact, it's been estimated that project manager's spend 90% of their time on
communication related activities!
This makes sense when you consider that communication overlaps with most aspects of a project
manager's job. From assigning tasks to team members to providing status updates, a project
manager is constantly communicating.
A project manager with good communication skills ends up amplifying the effectiveness of everyone
he interacts with. This greatly increases the likelihood of his project meeting or exceeding stakeholder
Likewise, if a project manager's communication skills aren't up to par, there is a much higher
probability that his project will not be successful.
Since communication plays a vital role in the success or failure of your project, it's important for you to
spend time improving your communication skills. To get started, take a look at the articles below.
Understanding the importance of communication skills in project management is the first
step to successfully managing your projects.

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Teamwork In The Workplace

The Importance of Teamwork

Effective Teamwork = Project Success

Teamwork in the workplace is an important factor for project success. As a result, developing an
effective project team is one of the primary responsibilities of a project manager.
Why is teamwork important for your project?
Teamwork is important because it creates human synergy. It amplifies the results of each member of
your team such that the overall result is greater than the individual contributions made by each
Below are some tips you can use to foster high performance and effective teamwork for your project.

Effective Teamwork in Organizations

As the project manager, there are several actions you can take to foster effective teamwork in your

Project Vision and Objectives

Clearly define and communicate your project's vision and objectives to all project members. This is
important for overall coordination of the project team by making sure everyone is moving in the same

Roles and Responsibilities

Make sure all project members understand what their role is and what their responsibilities are. This is
important for setting expectations among all of the project stakeholders.

Encourage Collaboration
Create a project environment where problem-solving and decision-making are done in a collaborative
and participative manner. This is important for empowering the team and encouraging active
involvement in the project.

Build Trust
Create an environment of trust by modeling the behavior you desire from your team by
communicating openly, supporting win/win approaches, and respecting others. This is important for
showing the team that you trust them and encouraging mutual trust among each other.
Taking action in these four areas will set the foundation for effective teamwork and team building. This
is the basis for developing a high-performing team and a successful project.
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What Makes a Good Leader?

It's important to understand what makes a good leader if you want to be a successful
Project Manager

What Makes A Good Leader?

There are countless books about leadership, each with its own view of what leaders should do to be
successful. Many of these books will list 10, 20, or even more key leadership characteristics or
Reading and studying these books is important for developinggood leadership skills. But it's not very
realistic to expect that you will be able to remember and apply that many principles on a day-to-day
Fortunately, there is a more practical mindset that you can use to lead your projects effectively.
Marcus Buckingham expressed what leaders should do in his book The One Thing You Need to
"Great leaders rally people to a better future."
- Marcus Buckingham
Alan Keith has also described leadership in a similar manner...
"Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to
making something extraordinary happen."
- Alan Keith
These two quotes are great because they get to the essence of leadership. Examining these two
quotes, we can see that there are two keycharacteristics of a good leader.
Good Leaders...

Inspire a Shared Vision

Enable People to Act

Inspire a Shared Vision

To be a good leader you have to be forward looking - able to imagine whatcould be. Creating this
vision of a "better future" is the rudder for your team or organization. This is what you will use to keep
your team working in a coordinated manner.

However, it's not enough to simply have a vision of the future you'd like to see. Your vision needs
to inspire your team. Why is creating the future you envision important? How does your specific
project contribute to "making something extraordinary happen?"

Enable People to Act

As a leader, your primary focus should be on people. Enabling people to act is a continuous process,
taking place long before any specific vision or project is even thought of.
Building relationships begins this process. You want to developrelationships of trust and confidence.
Setting the example, communicating openly, and following through on your commitments are some
ways you can build these types of relationships with others.
Relationships of trust work in both directions. Not only do you want others to trust you, but you need
to trust others. This will give you the confidence you need to empower your team to take the actions
necessary to create your team's shared vision.
Once your team has a common vision they are working towards and are empowered to take the steps
to reach that vision, your job is to make sure they have what they need to get there. That can come in
the form of executive support, systems and tools, or simply staying out of their way so they can get
the job done.

Leadership Characteristics
of a Good Leader
If you want to be a good leader you need to do two things...
First, give your team a reason to come into work energized each morning by creating a shared vision
that they can be excited and proud of creating.
Second, make sure your team has the tools they need and are empowered to take the necessary
actions to make that vision a reality.
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Motivation in the Workplace

Importance of Motivation
in Project Management

Employee motivation in the workplace has a strong influence on project results. A project team that
is highly motivated to accomplish the goals of the project is not only much more likely to reach those
goals, but will also have fewer issues and problems along the way.
As a project manager, it is important to realize that there are two key distinctions between project
team motivation and general employee motivation in the organization. Understanding these
differences will help you focus on the employee motivation techniquesand motivation
theories that are most effective for project teams.
The first distinction to realize is that when a project starts, most of the team members are already
motivated to perform well. The reason for this is that when most people begin a new job, or in this
case project, they are enthusiastic, eager to work and want to contribute.
The project manager should not be trying to motivate the team, but should be working to maintain
each team member's motivation. One way to do this is to use a participative leadership style. By
making sure the team is involved in project planning and decisions, implementing their ideas, and
celebrating team achievements they will stay engaged and motivated.
The second distinction to realize is that it is possible to have a positive project environment even
when the overall organizational environment is negative.
The project manager can create a subculture within the organization where he can motivate the
project team despite any negative organizational climate. To do this, it is important that the project
manager communicate clearly at the beginning of the project. Special emphasis should be placed on
getting top management support, establishing an agreed project scope with key stakeholders, and
involving the project team as early as possible.
By maintaining the initial motivation levels that the team member's bring into the project and creating
a positive project environment, the project manager can keep a high level of motivation in the
workplace that will lead to high performance.
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