Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Late Summer tips for Spring Chickens

The term "spring chicken" has been used since the early 1700's as an expression meaning "very young". It's usually used in the negative, as in my case: "I'm no spring chicken", meaning I'm not so young anymore.
What the cluck do chickens have to do with Project Management? The current issue of PM Network magazine has an article called "Next in Line" regarding young PMs and it's to them that I dedicate this posting - a quick summary of that article. Much of the information from the article came from interviews with brand-new, young PMs in organizations sharing their learnings. For example, Mr. J. Zammar of Dubai has the following observations:
"It is not always easy for young workers to earn the trust of their seniors. They should start by being sharp observers. It is important to stay away from confrontational approaches, to be concise and constructive, and to show cooperation while trying to be creative. Anticipate questions, and evaluate the impact of your ideas on the project cost, quality and risks."

How about what NOT to do?
Here's a quick list of DO NOTs:
Avoid the following:
--Using slang in business meetings
--Calling people by their first name before being invited to do so
--Writng memos as if chatting on the phone
--Asumming that text messaging is an appropriate way to communicate with clients, team leaders or managers

In terms of Communications, there are also some simple rules:
Watch and learn: Study how veteran employees communicate - then follow their lead
Target your style: Leave the text talk, casual abbreviations, and poor grammar for chats with friends.
Tie your ideas to the company's needs: A great solution is one that's aligned with the strategic goals of the business and the client.
Be proactive: Don't point out a problem unless you have a solution that you're ready and able to implement.
Back it up: Have facts and figures to support how your idea will directly impact project success.
Seek out constructive criticism: Find a mentor and get feedback on your communication style and performance.
Just ask: It's better to pose what seems like a stupid question than to risk not finding out the answer.

Also interesting in the article was a review of mechanisms that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) uses when recruiting and hiring new workers. In many cases, recruitment and even some training begins while the candidates are still in University. One piece of this training which I particularly liked had to do with communications. They teach new workers to ask themselves three questions whenever communicating:
-What do I want to communicate?
-How do I want to communicate
-Who is my audience?

This fits in exactly with my mantra for blogging and presenting: Intent and Audience. Intent and Audience. Intent and Audience. Breathe out.... Ahhh....

I always repeat that to myselfe three times before starting a posting or a presentation. What do I want to say, and what's the takeaway message, and for whom is this message intended?

In any case, the the article is a good one, and it's worth a read, as is the interview with another non-spring chicken, Colin Powell, in the same issue. Check out August 2008 PM Network at .

Hopefully, the article will not ruffle your feathers and will help you reach beak performance in the pecking order....sorry for all of the fowl puns....


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advise.


Sreejith said...

Interesting topic..
Being a manager at 27 , I may fall in to your category of 'Spring Chicken' !
One thing which I have observed with old people is that, they dont like changes or inventions in first place. They will go for new ideas when they find that all the tips & tricks followed by them over the years is not working out or not improving the situation.
Such 'Non-spring chicken' people press their younger counterparts to follow their 'old-age' ideas thus suppress original thinking.
But it should be noted that, the world wouldnt have been the same , if every one was following what their predecessors were doing !

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