Workplace Rights

Weekly (12/6/10)

Topic of the Week  We're All Projects Today: Project Management Strategies:

DO clarify expectations.

DO research and plan.

DO act.

DON'T forget to debrief.

At one time, I'm told, people actually had only one job they had to worry about. Today we all seem to be project management specialists, juggling an ever-expanding portfolio of assignments and challenges. Which reminds me of Ian Philpotts of Spalding, England. Ever since his wife was in an auto accident 20 years ago, Mrs. Philpotts suffers from anterograde amnesia, which robs her of her short-term memory. Picture this, every morning she wakes up wondering who that stranger is in the bed next to her. Her husband has a strategy for coping, he keeps a wedding album right next to the bed to remind her that they're married.

Ian has a very clever plan to deal with a situation that seems almost impossible to cope with on a daily basis (if you're not in a Drew Barrymore movie, of course). We call learn from his creative problem solving strategies when we attempt to tackle our work projects. I'll provide three Do's and one Don't for surviving your projects at work. For more, check out "Effective Immediately" by Bennington & Lineberg (10 Speed, 2010).

DO clarify expectations. I recently went to a movie after hearing a huge build up about it from a friend. I was disappointed. Then went to a movie after hearing a terrible review and I loved it. Let's face it, expectations can really color our opinions about everything. That's why it's so important to clarify workplace expectations. Before you start on your project, check in with all the various stakeholders to take their pulse. And to let them know what you're thinking. Expectation management is hugely important in today's mostly chaotic workplace.

DO research and plan. I know, we're living in "Ready, fire, aim" times. But it is still important to take the time to do some homework on the issues you'll be facing with your projects. Recently I did a consulting project at a big company. Before I dove in, I did some research on previous corporate change initiatives. I learned a lot of do's and don'ts that were invaluable for my project. A little research can go a very long way. Also coming up with a game plan will provide direction and opportunities to monitor your progress will take some time, but over the length of your project it will save you time and effort many times over.

DO act. Duh! Recently I was in a store shopping for a sport coat. The salesman never asked if I wanted to buy it. Just like those "close" fearing salespeople, many of us struggle to pull the trigger and kick into action with our projects. Don't just sit there, do something.

DON'T forget to debrief. Most of us finish one project and we're immediately on to the next. I'm a big fan of debriefing, where you take a brief review of what happened to see what you can learn and apply to future projects.

Follow these tips and you'll wake up to a bunch of successful projects each day at work.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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–Peter Drucker

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