Slowing down for the holidays
Monday, December 05, 2016
For many businesses, winter is a busy and frenetic time of the year. It just so happens that the need for increased productivity — whether it's to finish end-of-the-year projects, or adjusting to increased demand for your product — also coincides with fewer work days to do the work, since many holidays fall during this time.
A good manager has the time management, decision-making and organizational skills to lead her team through this challenging time of the year. She also has another important quality that is too frequently overlooked when defining what makes an excellent manager: patience.
As we head into the hectic final month at 2016, it's important to remember to slow down — not in terms of productivity, but rather in how you think and approach your work. In this month's column, we explore the benefits of showing patience as a project manager. We show how slowing down can help you and your team better realize your goals, assess potential risks and set priorities.
1. Goal realization
People who are impatient are often also impulsive. They set goals — usually big ones — but they don't take the time to break down how they will pursue these goals into smaller, more attainable steps. Instead, they tend to jump right in. And before long, make mistakes that could have easily been prevented with a bit of planning.
Patient managers take the time to work through the details in both project planning and negotiation preparation templates. They work efficiently, but they don't cut corners.
This early leg work can be tedious and cumbersome — but they do it anyway. With this careful planning, they are able to keep the whole project team well informed about the project timeline, anticipate and mitigate problems that arise, and create small successes at each step of the project.
2. Risk management
Impatient people, blinded by their optimism and enthusiasm, often do not fully think through the risks that could derail their projects. Skilled and patient project managers, in contrast, manage to hold onto that positivity and enthusiasm while still making decisions methodically, logically and realistically.
In the process of reviewing what could go wrong and how they could prevent or mitigate challenges in their projects, patient managers often create better approaches than if they had just rushed into the first approach that came to mind.
3. Priority setting
Sometimes, in spite of their hasty approach, impatient managers experience an early success. Inspired and energized by this accomplishment, they decide to reach even higher, expanding the goals they want to pursue. In project management language, this is known as "scope creep."
Patient managers may, of course, be inspired during the course of their projects. The difference is that, unlike hasty or impatient people, they have clearly defined their priorities in the project-planning activities before starting their projects. Then, when they're struck by inspiration, they have the patience to look at the new ideas from many angles to assess if it really makes sense to pursue a new path.
Patience is an underappreciated virtue that can improve a project manager's ability to discern a better, easier and faster path to success. The best managers master the techniques that bring out their best abilities with the patience to guide others to leverage their innate strengths as well.
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