Enlightened PM Tip # 19 – Recognize Stories and Don’t Allow Them to Influence Behavior
This is another tip for which we can thank my friend Gregg Oliver. Stories are what we tell ourselves to explain the behavior of others. “The boss doesn’t like me so I never get the good projects; Mary never completes her work on time because she’s lazy” and “Ali comes in late every morning because he’s not committed.” What is interesting about stories is that we all use them and that they are wrong about 90% of the time. Even more troubling is that we take action based on the stories that we tell ourselves, so if those stories are usually wrong what does that say about the actions that we take based on those stories? It is impossible to accurately know why someone behaves in a certain way unless that person chooses to explain his or her behavior to you. Learn to recognize a story when you tell yourself one and question your assumptions before acting on them. Remember that the story you tell yourself regarding someone else’s behavior is very likely wrong and any action you take based on that story will likely be wrong as well.
Enlightened PM Tip #41 –Utilize Both Project Management Experience and Formal Education and Training to Accomplish Professional Growth
Often times I’ll hear working project managers espouse the benefits of experience while discounting the need for formal training or education (this is usually from those having no certification or formal project management training). The argument is typically along the lines of “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve learned everything I need to know on the job.” These are usually the same people who will tell you that everything is always late and over budget and the level of stress is always very high because that’s just the nature of project management. Unfortunately, a person having experience alone usually means that the individual spent a great deal of time learning and reinforcing bad habits, and is likely not an effective project manager. It’s equally detrimental to just have theory alone, as someone with formal training but no real-world experience will lack the ability to temper the theory and apply that knowledge in a real-world workplace environment. The best way to develop professionally is to continuously seek formal project management training while gaining experience in the workplace. By taking this approach an individual can learn the principles or mechanics of project management (i.e., why things work the way they do) and apply only the tools and techniques that add value for a particular organization, thus optimizing performance and professional growth.