52 Resources For Growing Project Managers: Round Up of 2014 Guest Posts

Loyal readers of Project Management Hacks will notice that I have gone a few weeks without publishing a new article. Well, I’m back! Even better, I have a great new resource ready for you:

New Free Resource: How To Build An Effective Relationship With Your Project Sponsor

A strong relationship with your project sponsor can improve your project’s prospects (and your career). That’s why I wrote the “How To Build An Effective Relationship With Your Project Sponsor” report. To get the report, go here.

Now, in the spirit of year end reviews, this post gives you an easy to read guide to my writing on leadership, skills development and more for project managers. This is a great resource for you to come back to over and over again.

Image of Mountain and Valley by Andrew Collins
Image By Andrew Collins (https://unsplash.com/andrewcollins)

Leadership For Project Management

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

According to author John C. Maxwell, leadership is influence. Leadership was a major focus of my writing this year. Leadership skills are important for project managers in several situations. For professionals managing a program or portfolio of projects, you cannot directly achieve results – you must work through your team by setting priorities and supporting your team.

Through 2014, I published nineteen leadership articles exploring this important area across the Web. For your convenience, here are links to the articles:

 Networking for Project Managers: Favors Are The Acid Test

Sometimes, idealistic people are put off the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people. – Sonia Sotomayor

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51 Training Resources For Project Managers

Project Management Training: Use These ResourcesSeptember is the back to school seasons for millions across the nation. For me, I’ve always looked forward to September – the promise of learning something news, the pleasure of the fall season, and there’s the fact that I have a September birthday.

For many in the corporate world, September is also the start of the final push.

  • You realize that you only have a few months left to finish those major goals ( and get ready for your annual review).
  • Time is running out to use your training budget.
  • You just started a new role and realize that you need more project manager training to get up to speed.

Whether you’re looking to finish the year on a strong note or acquire skills to succeed in your new role, you need training resources. That’s why I have written this guide to training resources, many of which are free. Most project managers understand the need to have a broad understanding of their industry, management and other topics. That’s why I’ve included “project management” and “non-project management” suggestions in each section.

In this article, I am defining training broadly. I cover resources that provide “how-to” guidance and techniques. You will also find recommendations for courses. However, I also include resources designed to help you think more broadly about the world and your work.

Every year, professionals spend significant time and money on training.

Statistics show that you and your organization are spending significant time and money on training each year. You owe it to yourself to think carefully about what skills you want to develop. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your employer (or client) will know what kind of project manager training you need.

In this guide, you will learn about five different training resources for project managers. They range in cost from free to thousands of dollars. Whether you need to learn Microsoft Excel skills, communications or certifications in consulting, you will find something of value in this article.

For ease of reference, here is what we will be covering in today’s article on project manager training:

Section 1: Websites
Section 2: Books
Section 3: Podcasts
Section 4: MIT Courses
Section 5: Courses and Certifications

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Delegation Skills for Project Managers

Delegation skills are essential for project managers. Without this skillset, a project manager’s ability to manage a team and deliver results will be limited. Some professionals avoid delegation because they think they can perform the task better. Ultimately, mastering delegation skills is important for two reasons: to make the best use of the project team and to give the project manager the capacity to focus on the big picture.

To add further depth and perspective to the place of delegation skills in project management, I developed a survey. Here is what 14 management and project management professionals had to say about delegation skills.

1) Jim Benson

Twitter: @ourfounder Website: Personal Kanban

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

I watched an old boss of mine who was very effective at his job. He and his teams turned in fantastic product. The clients were always very happy. The problem was the single most manipulative person I’ve ever met. He intentionally hurt people, he intentionally built them up. He was excellent at delegation, but terrible at humanity.

I watched how he would delegate work to people that they could do repeatedly (5 or 6 times) until they built a cadence and a feeling of success. Then he would give them something the would barely fail at, they’d fail, and he would rip them to shreds. I never wanted to be guilty of that crime.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?   

Don’t delegate tasks you don’t understand. Don’t assume delegation means people are going to do what you would do. Don’t assume you would really do what you think you would do.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

J. Krishnamurti taught to stay calm and see. His writings helped me learn effective delegation by not delegating out of frustration, but out of opportunity.

2) Lindsay Scott

Twitter: @projectmgmt   Website: ArrasPeople

 What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

Working as a PMO Manager, managing a team of project support officers it was vital that routine parts of the job were carried out in order to be able to concentrate on those PMO services that add a lot more value. The routine jobs were ideal for bringing on graduates or those with minimal project management experience as a way for them to cut their teeth in a project environment. Things like report compilation, timesheet checking, document control were all things that could be delegated leaving the more experienced PMO people to do the value-add work e.g., resource planning, scheduling, workshop facilitation etc.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

I would probably say to myself, Lindsay in a few years, believe it or not but you’re going to get really good at some aspects of project management and PMO (even though at this time you have no idea what that is!). You’re also going to be in a position where other people also want to know what you do – and it’s going to be your job to help them. How amazing is that! So think about how and what you do; think about how you might be able to help other people and remember delegation is all about patience and allowing people to make mistakes, after all that’s why you’re in the position to help now.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

A previous manager who could see what I was capable of, if only I handed off some of the things I did in my comfort zone. The flip side to delegation skills is the ability to learn and grow yourself, after all, if you don’t why would you need to delegate, why not just keep on doing things yourself?

3) Ed Laccohee

Twitter: @Ed_Lac   Website: Controlled Projects

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

IF Work > TimeAvailable THEN *Delegate*

TimeAvailable = (24 – PartnerTime – BasicDuties – Recreation/Sleep) x ProjectDays

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

If you are going to tell your boss its a dumb idea, you must explain an alternative.  When delegating said dumb idea (because you probably didn’t have an alternative) to your key worker, if they have a better alternative, act on it or pass it back up the chain (with comment).

4  Elizabeth Harrin

Twitter: @pm4girls   Website:  The Otobos Group

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

I can’t remember exactly but I do recall asking my boss’ secretary to do some project admin for me. I couldn’t do it all myself and I had permission to ask her, but I wasn’t sure how she would take to doing work for me. As it was, she was fine about it and enjoyed the project work. I remember having to spend time with her to get the documents and typing the way I wanted them (this was back in the day when we used printed paper documents).

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Learn how to ask people to do things for you in a nice way. You’ll have to delegate a lot in your life so practice on small tasks first.

5 Tony Adams

Twitter: @TonyAdams2002  Website: Tony Adams PM

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

When I took on a Program Management role, I learnt that I couldn’t do it all.  I lacked the necessary skills. I lacked the time. My role demanded a different focus.  At that point I realized that I had to bring my team into the tent.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Embrace your weaknesses or knowledge gaps. So often, we refuse to delegate because we don’t want to be exposed as not knowing things.  We want to own it. Leaders will acknowledge their gaps and bring the right people in, at the right time, to fill those gaps. Don’t be too proud. Bring your team along with you from the outset.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

Adriana Girdler (@AdrianaGirdler) of Cornerstone Dynamics is one of my great influences.   She teaches me to use my time and energy to its best effect, to embrace differences and call out the best in my teams.  That is the essence of delegation.

6) Peter Taylor

Twitter: @thelazypm   Website: The Lazy Project Manager

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

Managing a large project over nearly 3 years I realized that I was ‘doing it wrong’ and one of the things I was doing wrong was not trusting my team and delegating work to them.

I was involving myself in everything piece of work, every communication and every decision and as a result I was no more successful and yet very stressed.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

When I led a global PMO for a major organisation with over 100 project managers I noticed a significant fact. About half of the project managers were reasonably successful in delivering their projects (we weren’t perfect but we did do a pretty good job) and they were working, on average, a normal working week of 40 hours or so. Now projects are not flat in their time demands and so there were periods of peak activity and there were quieter periods but on average a normal working pattern.

Now the other half of the project managers were working significantly longer hours and guess what, they were being no more effective or successful.

Looking in to this in more detail it became apparent that the cause of this was something that I recognised from my early days in project management, lack of focus in the right areas and becoming involved in too much of the detail. The risk to new project managers is that they lack the trust to delegate to the project team, that they involve themselves in too much communication, and that they make themselves a bottleneck for decision making.

“Productive laziness” is the application of the right project management approach for the greater good of the project and the project manager.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

Myself in the end – I enjoyed project management but after the big project I knew if I was to carry on for the next 20 years or so I would have to change my ways.

7) Stever Robbins

Twitter: @getitdoneguy  Website: Stever Robbins

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

I realized at a young age that I was lazy. I heard about this kid named Tom Sawyer who was a strong, powerful leader. He delegated like an expert. I wanted to learn from the best. Besides, if you want to change the world (as I do), the only way to do it is through other people. That means delegation.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Force yourself to delegate everything you can, even the things you do well. It’s far too easy to refuse to delegate because you believe you can do a better job. Indeed,  maybe your delegatee *can* do a better job. But that isn’t the point; your delegatee doesn’t need to do better, they just need to do well-enough for the job to get done.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

Becoming a Manager” by Linda Hill. It wasn’t so much about specific delegation skills but about a shift in attitude from “my job is to dot he work” to “my job is to get the work done through others.” HUGE SHIFT!

8) Glen B Alleman

Twitter: @galleman   Website: Herding Cats

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

Officer Candidate School, US Army, 1969 is the start of leadership skills for delegating work to those most capable of delivering the needed outcomes.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Collectively have concurrence on what “done” looks like in units of measure meaningful to the decision makers. These measures are “effectiveness,” and “performance.” From these measures, define the requirements that will implement these capabilities, then the work that produces the outcomes that implement the requirements.

With this information, develop the staffing assignments for performing the work. “Package” this work into single outcomes, and assign those “accountable” for delivering these outcomes.

With this “collective” plan, all project participants have knowledge of what they’re accountable for, what resources are needed, when they are needed, and what dependencies must be addressed.

At this point you have delegated the work that produces the outcomes, and those accountable have acknowledged their obligation to the deliverables, each other, the beneficial outcomes of the project for the customer, and you as the project manager.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

Senior managers in early jobs that had learned from their senior managers.

 9) Cheri Essner

Twitter: @cheriessner   Website: Korea Builders

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

I learned delegation skills as young person involved in conducting clinical trials.  We were not dealing with nuts and bolts but real people which gives you a clear priority, people first.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

The more you are able to delegate allows you to achieve far more.  Everyone is has different skills and you should learn how to delegate with success.  Make sure you are not setting people up to fail but fostering that they are learning and growing.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

I work for a man ( twice) who ran us like a football team.  We were organized, prioritized and quarter backed our initiates on the Senior Management team.  He taught me how to truly bring out the best in people.

10) Steve Baker

Twitter: @stevepmp

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

I realized that you cannot get it all done yourself.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Learn to break down work into packages, like the WBS.  Take those sections of work and delegate them

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

PMP study material

11) Naomi Caietti

Twitter: @califgirl232 and @theglassbreaker  Website: The Glass Breakers

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

Right out of college, I took a job at an insurance company and worked in their Information Technology (IT) Division as a pc coordinator.  It was a wonderful learning experience because I was mentored by ex-IBMers; the culture was focused on core values, employee engagement and personal development for IT staff.

Learning new data center processes, techniques and methodologies was a daily experience.  I was coached to lead IT projects using standard practices, tools tips and techniques in business analysis, help desk, software development, data center and telecommunication infrastructure, procurement, desktop support and training.  Most project managers come up through the ranks in an organization as an “accidental” project manager (PM): certainly this was my story.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

I’d offer these five tips for a millennial today:

1. Be a lifelong learner; adapting a “student of life” mentality will serve you well personally and professionally.

2. Great leaders are great followers; understand your role, observe and perform what needs to be done to support and help be a part of a vision/project/initiative greater than yourself.

3. Manage to your top priorities daily; delegate the rest. Stay focused to keep your projects on track.

4. Empower your team; lend a hand to mentor others to achieve their success.

5. Learn time management; hone your delegation skill-sets.  Time management is your greatest leadership strategy; delegate to others to help you manage your time and empower your team.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

It would be easy to say one person or book helped me to learn a valued leadership tenet – delegation.  Today, I promote project management practices to produce results, outcomes and add value.  I’d have to acknowledge the following for my transition from project manager to project leader.

Every leader I followed to learn to lead, every manager who gave me an opportunity to deliver a new product, service or program, every high performing team I was privileged to learn from and sponsor who supported me and the team to produce long lasting results, outcomes and value for the organization, and every PM in my global PM community that allowed me to engage and share my knowledge to influence the practice of project management and advance the profession one project manager at a time.

12) Rizzie Vette

Twitter: @gogettervette  Website: This Geeky Mommy

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

As a PM, I needed to manage talents like web developers, graphic designers and VAs for successful project delivery.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

1. Delegate responsibility and do not micromanage.
2. Delegate wisely. You are still accountable.
3. Follow through as agreed.
4. Document agreement re delegated tasks.
5. Coach and reward when necessary.
6. Connect delegation with your people’s professional development plan.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

The leadership books of John Maxwell, Marcus Buckingham and Peter Drucker that I’ve read all discussed delegation and have helped me.

13) Ron Rosenhead

Twitter: @ronrosenhead   Website: Project Agency

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

When I was a management trainer I needed to understand the concept of delegation. I was promoted to run a training department and wanted to understand how to delegate for the benefit of my staff and the work….and of course myself.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

Be logical. Think about the end result. Think about the skills of your team, some of whom are more skilled than you in some areas. Listen to the team.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

I learned through experience, watching others delegate to me – sometimes well however mostly poorly. There was no one person. It is an amalgam of experience

14) Robert Kelly

Twitter: @rkelly976   Website: Kelly’s Contemplation

What experience prompted you to learn delegation skills?

The first project that I was assigned to forced me into delegation.  While I could have performed each of the functions, there was simply no way I could have done the volume of work that was required.  The project forced me to assign leads, and the trust that comes with that, for the different work streams.

I have since led projects with ridiculously smart folks, of which I could never do their respective function on the project.

What advice would you give to yourself at age 22 (or whenever you finished school) about learning delegation skills?

I would tell myself two things:

1) Communication is the key to effective communications and it is the responsibility of the communicator to ensure your team understands what is being asked of them.  Don’t assume you explained it right; ask them to explain the plan/vision back to you.

2) Trust but verify.  If you are going to delegate something, then you need to give your people the latitude to make it happen.  Don’t hover over them. However, you will be held ultimately accountable for the success of the project so you must verify the progress and quality.  Set up check points or regular interlocks to ‘inspect’ the work.  This will enable a good balance.

What person (or book) helped you learn delegation skills?

I had a manager early in my career that told me…Hire good people, give them the tools to succeed, appreciate their efforts, but never forget that people make mistakes.  If their intentions/heart are good and they don’t act carelessly, then everything will work out.  Trust your people.  More important than his words were his actions.  When I messed up he asked what happened, offered some alternatives for future, and moved on. He wasn’t naive and didn’t hold back (if it was bad, he would say it), but he didn’t get angry and was never unprofessional.

Conclusion

I am grateful to everyone who shared their comments with me on learning delegation skills. I learned a great deal from working on this series. It is clear to me that delegation is a fundamental skill for project managers and leaders.

The Montgomery Scott Guide To Project Management Skills

Looking to learn project management skills and don’t know where to start? Scotty’s got you covered. I can’t cover how to stop a warp core breach. Sadly, I don’t know how to reverse the polarity either. But I do know there’s much to learn about fundamental project management skills from Scotty. That may sound strange or even downright weird.

Project Management Skills Are Scotty Approved

For those readers who are confused, I’m referring to Montgomery Scott, the ingenious Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise. He’s quite possibly the most popular Scottish science fiction character of all time. He’s also pulled the Enterprise out of more scrapes and crises than I can count. Whether you’re a long time Star Trek fan like me or not, this guide will deliver the goods on project management skills.

Lesson 1: How to Become a Project Management Miracle Worker

In Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics,” Scotty makes an appearance after being stranded in a transporter for decades. Even though his technical knowledge is somewhat out of date, Scotty still knows the importance of managing expectations – especially the Captain’s expectations. Scotty is shocked when Geordi La Forge (chief engineer of Star Trek: The Next Generation) appears to have a very different understanding of expectations.

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