MANAGE YOUR STAKEHOLDERS, MANAGE YOUR LIFE / THE “CHEETAH KNOW HOW” SERIES

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen Medina, CAPM®, Co-Author

Everyone reading this is a capable, smart, and skilled project manager, who is proud of managing the key stakeholder in each project with professionalism and finesse.  Do you bring this same care to managing the stakeholder in your personal life? Can you imagine how much smoother things would be if you did? Who are the important stakeholders in the project called “life”? Take a moment to think about that, as this is an important question.

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI - LACER/ACTIONS - IMAGES OF TORN AND DECOMPOSED PUBLICITY POSTERS - 2010

As the holidays approach, we can become more hypersensitive to how miscommunication and familial strife can affect our day-to-day life. And when we boil it down, it’s all about stakeholder mismanagement. Below are some of the most common pitfalls we have when managing stakeholders, in either our personal or professional lives.

Incorrectly identifying who your stakeholders are. You are planning a dinner with friends to celebrate over the holiday. You have a good idea of what your friends like and what they don’t, and have catered the menu with consideration for even your most allergy-ridden acquaintance. Your friends show up with their children, and the festivities begin—but no one told you that 6-year-old Pesky Pete was the world’s pickiest eater ever. As his temper tantrum begins to take over the room, your embarrassed friends politely excuse themselves and leave the party.

I like to call this a hidden stakeholder. This is someone who has genuine power, but is hidden behind another stakeholder who has less practical power. When you are managing a project, at work or at home, don’t stop at the surface when identifying key stakeholders who can make or break your project. There are Pesky Petes everywhere.

Communicating in a method other than what they prefer. You are organizing a holiday party, and have sent everyone a Facebook invite with instructions on what to bring, when to come, and the dress code. The problem is that a third of your prospective attendees are not on Facebook.

Before you spend a ton of energy on preparing information in an attempt to communicate to your key stakeholder, take a step back. Do you know the medium of communication that they prefer? How often do they prefer communication: daily, weekly, monthly? Do they prefer visual representations of the information, or essay format?  When you utilize the medium and style of communication that your stakeholders prefer, you will not squander efficiency through a loss of communication.

Not communicating expectations properly.  You and your loved one are exchanging presents for the holiday. You have put a lot of time and thought into your gift—an engraved golf club set that cost you a fortune. They, the thoughtful ingrates they are, gave you cleaning supplies. In their defense, “Didn’t you need a new mop?”

Unmet expectations are the culprit of many disastrous events. And we only have ourselves to blame.  To set yourself, and your stakeholders, up for success, you need to clearly communicate your expectations, and make sure you have a clear understanding of theirs.

Not getting buy-in from key stakeholders.  It has come to the day of your holiday party, and you are running around like crazy getting ready. Your kids are hiding, but you know they are underfoot as you keep finding their messes. Your spouse is out running personal errands because they forgot about the party. And you are going CRAZY.

When you are working on a project, you need to rally members of your support group and get their buy-in to help you succeed. You can do this by making these stakeholders part of the decision-making process—would they like to invite friends to the party? What do they want to contribute to the menu? When you engage the stakeholders who are there to support you, you will be less stressed and more successful.

This holiday season, remember to treat the people who are most important to you as key stakeholders in the “Project of Life.”  Happy planning, and Happy Holidays!

***

About the Author:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 50,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques. 

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

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REINVIGORATE YOUR LIFE / THE “CHEETAH KNOW HOW” SERIES

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI LACER/ACTIONS ART – LITHOGRAPH, 50X70, FRAMED, 2008

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen Medina, CAPM®, Co-Author

The definition of reinvigorate is: To put vitality and vigor back into someone or something.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Where exactly do you find this extra vitality and vigor? How do you determine that someone or something is lacking said vitality and vigor? And what is the process to insert vitality and vigor into that someone or something?

If that something is your life and the projects that make up your life, Cheetah Learning is here to help.

Reevaluate. Do you have a project in your life that has more parts lackluster than vigor? The first step is, don’t beat yourself up about it. There might be a reason that you have lost your motivation around this particular endeavor. Find out the “why” of doing the project and ascertain if you still have the same motivations and passions to complete it. If you don’t, then allow yourself to toss the project and do something that better fits who you are today. 

Re-tool. How do you feel when you don’t have the tools you need to accomplish a task? Perhaps the complete opposite of invigorated? That is how your project team will feel if they have a clearly defined task and deliverables, but don’t have the tools to reach their objective.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find out if there is a capability problem on your project team, as your team members with the issue may not even know that they have a problem. The solution may be advanced technology, further education on the domain subject, or training on systems and procedures. Once the person has the tools they need, they will have a clear path to their objective and be reinvigorated about their part in the project.

Regroup. Have you every felt like you or your project team was losing momentum on a project, and it was hard to pinpoint why? Come back to the project agreement that you created at the beginning, and remember the overarching goal that dictates your day-to-day activities.  It’s also important to acknowledge how your project goals fit in with the strategic direction of your organization. When your project team knows the purpose behind their actions, they will be able to have passion and conviction about the project as a whole.

Reapply the basics. As we get into the depths of a project, sometimes we can forget to do basic project management practices. What is interesting is that it is often the most experienced project managers that fall to in the trap of slacking on basic project management techniques. As you gain more experience, it can be easy to think that you are “too good” for the basics. The fact is that as projects get bigger and more complex, it is imperative that we stick to basic good project management practices, such as getting stakeholder buy-in and documenting lessons learned, in order to keep the project on track and on task. Reinvigorate your project when you get back to the basics that made you a great PM in the first place.

Repeat. Henry Adams once said, “Chaos breeds life, while order breeds habit.”  It is natural for a project to become unorganized and for team members to lose their motivation. It requires the influx of energy to create order out of chaos, and to create an invigorated project team. Make a point to shake up your project team periodically with the tips mentioned above to provide an influx of vigor and vitality into the projects in your life.

Have a fantastic and invigorating day!

About the Author:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 50,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

THE YOGI NEGOTIATOR

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI – LACER/ACTIONS PROJECT – IMAGES OF TORN PUBLICITY POSTERS – LITHOGRAPH, 50X70, 2008, FRAMED

Take a calming deep breath and maintain focus on the matter at hand. Find your center and stay balanced, calm, and ready. Now, tell me, are you on a Yoga mat or in a boardroom preparing to negotiate? The reality is that the techniques learned in Yoga can be applied across a broad spectrum of areas, especially in stressful situations such as negotiating.

Yoga requires you to maintain a calm state of being while putting your body under stress. This same physical stress can arise when you are negotiating an important deal. When you learn how to find your inner Yogi in these times of distress, you will be a better negotiator and therefore develop better relationships with whom you are negotiating. Here are some specific ways that you can utilize your Yogi powers to become a better negotiator.

Know Thyself. OK, so you might be thinking—I know myself. I know what I like, what I dislike. I spend 24 hours 7 days a week with myself—how could I NOT know myself?

In Yoga, knowing yourself goes far deeper than what we typically think of as self-awareness. Yogis attest that many of us live with a personal case of “mistaken-identity.” We think that who we are is our job, what car we drive, our likes and dislikes, our education, our amazing sense of humor, and so forth. This type of surface awareness does not take us far when it comes to resolving conflict or solving problems, which are key skills needed to be a good negotiator.

You can tackle the task of getting to know yourself on a deeper level by pretending that you are getting to know a new person. The key is to not assume that you know everything there is to know about yourself. Within your subconscious there is an entire realm of “you” with certain tendencies, self-talk and life theories that you might not even be fully aware of. When you become better acquainted with yourself, you will not only be more self-sensitive, but you will be able to connect to other people better and in a more compassionate way.

Find Your Balance. Yoga practice aims for balance in the body, mind, and soul. For example, assertive is the balance between the aggressive and passive extremes. Deliberate action is the balance between fight or flight reactions. When we are balanced in life, we feel happy, at peace, and content.

When you are negotiating, you can feel the balance of power shifting in the room like a ping-pong ball. Negotiation is a delicate game of balance, where the best outcome is an equilibrium reached when both parties feel balanced and satisfied. Because we live in the real world, this doesn’t always happen easily. If you’re in an unbalanced negotiation situation, where one party has more power than the other, the weaker party still has a chance to get what they want if they strive for balance.

In negotiations there is often real power (physical assets, knowledge capital) and perceived power (authoritative demeanor, quick wit). If you do find yourself at a disadvantage in comparison with the other party in one of these powers, work on increasing your power in the other area to arrive at a better-balanced negotiating situation.

Take a Deep Breath. One of the biggest ways you can lose your cool in a negotiations setting is by responding emotionally rather than objectively. We are all humans, and it is normal to have an emotional reaction, especially in a situation that has turned negative.

If the other party is evoking negative emotions from you by not “playing nice,” remember your inner Yogi and take a deep breath. When you control the flow of your breathing, your heart rate is effectively slowed down, bringing your body and mind back to a calm place that allows a clear mind. This allows you to release all the adrenaline that the other party may have induced.

When you take a breath instead of automatically responding out of emotion, you regain rational thinking and take back control. Having control over your responses is so important for good negotiations—so don’t forget to breathe!

Non-Reactive Presence and Deliberate Action. One important practice in Yoga is attaining the mindset of non-reactive presence. What this means is that you are present in the moment, and not reacting in an automatic way to external stimuli. Yogis strive to simply witness actions around them as well as the emotions that these actions evoke, rather than being subjected to these emotions. This separation allows for deliberate action rather than a reactionary response.

While it might sound all well and easy to remain non-reactive while reading this article, the real challenge is to remain non-reactive when you feel you’ve been personally attacked. This can happen many times in negotiations as people lash out to try to get what they want. When this happens, find your inner Yogi, the one that is compassionate and knows that others actions are not about you at all, and come back to your place of being present and calm where you can go forward with deliberate action.

So the next time you go into an important negotiation, leave your Yoga mat and towel at home, but bring along your inner Yogi to obtain a resolution that everyone is happy with. Also, don’t forget to ask about Cheetah Learning’s Masters Certificate in Negotiations (www.cheetahlearning.com, 888-659-2013) to become a Zen master at Negotiations. Thank you for reading, and Namaste!

About the Author:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

FIND THE FUN IN YOUR FIELD

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

Roberto ALBORGHETTI – “No Clouds”, Canvas/Mixed Media, 70×47 – Lacer/actions Project/Images of Torn and Decomposed Publicity Posters

Passionate Pauline is driving down the boulevard in the early morning, whistling to the tune “Oh Happy Day” with a big smile on her face, ready to take on the day with a vengeance and excited to tackle any challenges that may come her way. In the next lane over, Sullen Sue is sulking, and somehow stuck in the slow lane … again! Things don’t typically go her way, she dislikes her job, and she’s dreading the mounting paperwork that is piling up on her desk.

Which driver’s seat would you rather be in every workday morning, 52 weeks a year, for the odd 40 working years of your life? Your career is an endeavor that requires a great deal of your time, energy, and focus. If you’re sitting in Sullen Sue’s driver’s seat, only you can change directions to find a career that ignites the passion in you and makes you find the fun in your field.

Don’t let society define your role.  Why did you choose the career you are currently in? Did it seem like the “thing to do” after you graduated college? Or did you have some time to introspectively analyze your innate strengths and interests, and decide on a career path based on that?

As a single mom, I have heard all types of stories of how hard my life must be. This role as a struggling victim didn’t quite suit me, however, and instead of focusing on what others expected of me in my “role,” I focused on how I could best create a life for my children and myself in the best way I knew how. We are all unique individuals with strengths and assets that direct us to a special purpose in life.  Fuel your career growth by doing your thing, regardless of what society says you can or can’t do.

Change Your Job Description. Who knows you better – the HR director who hired you while they were interviewing 40 other candidates, or YOU? We all have parts of our job that we love, and other parts that we hate. Chances are, the person sitting in the next office space is in the same boat. What you see as boring and tedious, another might regard as satisfying and even fun. In order to create a job description that fits like a glove, make sure to keep an open and honest dialogue with your peers, subordinates, and mangers about what work keeps you energized vs. which work sucks your life force.

Be Proactive.  The happiest workers are those who have a strong sense of control over what they’re doing and why their efforts are important to a company’s mission. If you don’t like the projects you’ve been assigned, be more proactive in seeking your roles in projects – it never hurts to ask.

If there is a certain process that you find to be cumbersome, tedious, and (in your opinion) useless, take the initiative to change it to improve it. Your work is your world, and the more waves you make that are of your own initiative, the more fun you will have. So don’t sit idly by hoping things will get better – jump to it!

Smell the Roses. At the end of the day, we all want to feel that we’ve accomplished something of importance – that we’ve been an asset to our employers, made the world a better place, come a step closer to solving poverty, and all that before lunch if we can. But the truth is we are all human, and sometimes our best intentions can lead to us neglecting what keeps us going.

Every day, make sure to take some time for just yourself to re-energize and refocus so that you can go back to work ready to take on the world’s problems. Try taking a quick walk at lunch and smell the roses. On the busier days simply allow yourself to get up from you computer, and take five minutes to focus on your breathing and to stretch. You owe it to yourself, not to mention your organization, to be at your best. So put it in your Google calendar if you have to, and take your breaks!

We all have the decision every day – which driver’s seat do we want to be in – Sullen Sue’s or Passionate Pauline’s? Whatever your decision, make sure you are making it consciously and with intention. And remember, the Passionate Paulines have more fun!

About the Author:

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

BEEN SPOTTED? GET NOTICED – THE CHEETAH WAY

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM®, Co-Author

 

READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Globally recognized credential earned through Cheetah Learning. [Insert your name here], Project Manager Earns Project Management Professional Certification.

 

Imagine your name on the front page of the paper. What are you famous for? Is it for your excellent fashion sense? Your weather forecasting abilities? Or, perhaps you’re being honored for your ability to change the world for the better with your savvy project management skills and finesse?

As a project manager, you hold a great deal of responsibility and power, which becomes the case even more so when you earn your PMP® certification. The biggest challenge for many project managers is in letting others know what you are capable of, and what you are worth. Let’s face it – it’s not always easy to toot your own horn. But when you tackle your PM fame as you would any project—in an objective, systematic, and measurable way—you are sure to succeed in showing your stuff to ensure that you are spotted and get noticed- the Cheetah way.

 

Consider a Press ReleasePress releases don’t have to be just for large corporations or for the rich and famous. You, too, can get a press release out about the fantastic accomplishments that you’ve made in your life. Nowadays, roughly 45% of employers are going online to research potential employees as part of the screening process. You can strengthen your brand with a press release proclaiming your accomplishments. If you’re a Cheetah PMP®, contact us (marketing@cheetahlearning.com) to find out how you can get a press release created specifically for you and distributed for free.

 

Get Out There. You can’t always plan for the next big thing. Sometimes it comes down to being at the right place at the right time, with just the right mix of opportunity and preparation. But if you don’t take a chance and put yourself out there, you have taken yourself out of the game altogether.

 

Now, I know these suggestions sound eerily like dating advice for singles. But these rules also apply for professionals looking to make meaningful business connections. The more proactive you are in getting involved in organizations (such as PMI chapters, or volunteering your PM skills where needed in your community) the more visibility you have within the project management industry, and the more successful you will be.

 

Create a “Brag Sheet”.  Many times when we finish a project, we can rush through the closing process and lessons learned so quickly in preparation to dive into the next project. At the end of each project, take some time to add to your “Brag Sheet”. What went well in the project? Where you under budget or ahead of schedule? How did the deliverables of the project benefit the key stakeholders? This is something that you need to document for yourself, as most likely no on else is keeping track of your successes. Collecting your achievements so that you are prepared to shine when the opportunity presents itself.

 

Got It? Flaunt It! If you have your Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential, congratulations! As a PMP, you will get noticed worldwide as someone who is fluent in the language of PM and who is reliable in consistently achieving project success. There is a very good reason why the federal government mandated the need for Certified Project Managers to manage federally funded projects – PMP’s are proven and trustworthy.

 

Make it your goal this summer to get spotted for all of your hard work. Be your own best friend and promote your accomplishments, just as you would if you were trying to help another succeed in their career.  Make sure your accomplishments are visible to others so that they can “Read All About It”!

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  

 

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

 

Michelle’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. 

 

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Manager’s (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. 

 

Check out Cheetah PHAST – an exceptional new quarterly magazine

 

 

http://www.cheetahphast.com/?page_id=17