Remote work: Good or Bad?

Changing times call for a change in work styles as well. Gone are the days when getting a fix 9-5 job in an office was the most desirable thing. Everyone these days is on the lookout for flexibility and freedom, to work from wherever they want, in their job. And, this is the reason why there has been such an immense rise in the popularity of remote work culture. There are huge number of admirers of this new type of work culture. On the other hand there are still many people who think remote work is not good for business.

So, is it good or bad for business? In order to find out an answer to this question, we at ProofHub decided to get in touch with some of inspiring leaders and get their views on the topic. Not too much to our surprise, majority of them were in favor of remote work culture and believed that it is a huge plus for the business.

Let’s take a look in detail as to what they have to say –

1. 

Sandeep KashyapSandeep Kashyap
Founder and CEO of ProofHub, an online project management and collaboration tool loved by businesses of all sizes

I, personally, am a big advocate of remote work. Being an employer it gives me the freedom to choose the best talent to work for me from across the globe; no longer do I have to restrict myself to hiring people who are either present in my vicinity or are willing to relocate to where my business is located. And, it works for them as well because they can work in a flexible environment without any limitations. Plus, it saves from the stress of commuting daily to the office.

At ProofHub we have a team of people working from our physical office as well as people working remotely. And, it has worked out pretty well so far. In fact, with the help of our online project management tool the entire team is able to collaborate, communicate and discuss things without any hiccups; getting things done is never a problem. Technology has paved way for a smarter and more efficient style of working, and remote work is just one of the many steps in it!

2. 
Jacob Cass

Jacob Cass
A prolific graphic designer who runs the popular design blog, Just Creative, which doubles as his award-winning graphic design & branding firm

Remote working is all I ever do so I can’t say that it is bad for business. The flexibility and freedom of working from a remote location can’t be beat, especially with all the tools available now to make it such a breeze. Slack channels, online tools, video chat and more. What more do you need other than Wi-Fi?

3. 

Stephen Key
Stephen Key
An award-winning inventor, an intellectual property strategist, a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of inventRight

Our increasing ability to work remotely is fantastic for business, I think, because it’s fantastic for people. I became an entrepreneur in part because I wanted to choose where I lived and when I worked. These days my primary business, a coaching program for inventors, employs people across the country. We work with students from all over the globe. And we’re very successful at it, because communication technologies enable us to be very present. I make a point of turning on my camera when I communicate with my staff as well as students over Skype because looking someone in the eye is still very important. It deepens relationships in a special way. But these days you don’t need to be in the same office to do that, thankfully. I want to employ the best people. I don’t care where they’re coming from.

4. 

Miles Jennings

Miles Jennings
Founder and CEO of Recruiter.com, an online recruiting service

Even with oversight, remote work is self-directed to a degree and in every case requires self-motivation. Every team member needs to find this direction and motivation within themselves to succeed and thrive in a virtual environment. It’s not for everyone, as this process requires ongoing commitment and a strong desire to succeed. If your team can meet this challenge, remote work can be transformative for your employees and your overall business.

The easiest benefits to see that come from remote work, such as cost savings and the ability to hire the best from anywhere, are just the tip of the iceberg. The real long term benefits of remote work can be an empowered workforce, a great work-life balance for everyone on your team, and an ability to attract and retain amazing talent. Moving to a remote work environment should not be taken lightly, and never for simple cost savings if possible. Make the decision for the long term, in order to fundamentally change the way your team works and even, lives.

5. 

Rohan Ayyar

Rohan Ayyar
Involved in creative content strategy, web and mobile analytics and conversion optimization for startups at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies

Enabling employees to work remotely is no longer a question of good or bad – it’s a question of when and how. Various studies have found that saving workers their daily commute leads – unsurprisingly – to higher satisfaction, lower stress levels, and actually makes them want to work more. Flexibility in choosing where to work from is a necessity and a given, for not only modern knowledge workers but also employers, in order to get work done on as-needed and convenience-based schedules.

The most successful of present day startups, including Basecamp and Buffer, have their entire workforce working remotely and perform all the more better for that! We ourselves have a team of remote content creators and media managers at Preceptist (our executive branding service) so that our clients can have an “always-on” and locally-relevant digital presence.

6. Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly
PMO/Execution Leader, PMO Lead, NA Services Delivery at Lenovo, Co-Founder & Host at #PMChat and Managing Partner, Kelly Project Solutions, LLC

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work in very flexible work environments…work from home, come it at 10 am, or leave at 3 pm. And, I believe several benefits come from allowing a remote/flexible work environment. People feel valued, trusted, and like that they are being treated as adults. In turn, they give more to their work and companies. When people are sick, they don’t simply call out and they don’t bring their illness to the office (infecting the rest of the team). They stay home and still get some work done or at least they’re available for the occasional call or Lync/Skype/Google chat. Progress continues.

Remote work allows your team to get their work done, by the deadlines you set or they commit to, and they can do it as their schedule permits. Work to live…not live to work. This flexibility drives loyalty way up! With the increasing popularity of unified communications platforms in the enterprise (think Microsoft/Skype, Google, and other VOIP phone options) and the use of tools like ProofHub, teams can collaborate in real-time and from anywhere in the world. The next wave will be companies allowing their employees to leverage solutions like Sabbatical.

7. Nischal Shetty

Nischal Shetty
Founder & CEO of Crowdfire, a product that helps millions of small businesses connect with their target audience and grow online

At Crowdfire, we have never been huge propagators of remote working. Sure, remote working can allow you to have your own flexible schedule and lifestyle but being physically present with your team ensures excellent collaboration. Talent can be found in any part of the globe. We realised that we were missing out on good talent by restricting our job application process to only those who were willing to relocate. So we experimented and hired a couple of remote workers. Unfortunately, we had to end our contract with them because of problems in communication and collaboration caused by the time zone difference. Our work suffered, specially since they both were handling critical projects.

Just because remote working didn’t work out well (in the first go) for us, doesn’t mean that it’s bad for every business. We did take away a lesson. Since we are based out of India, we don’t allow remote working for national employees. We do accept applications from people situated in different countries under certain conditions. Like, they have to spend the first 6 months with us in our office in India. This way, they can get a feel of our work culture and our expectations. If, by the end of the 6 months, we both feel that there is a fit, then they can go on to work remotely. Remote working can be feasible for teams with very little inter­dependency. But I still feel that physical presence trumps virtual presence any day.

Looking for tools that can make remote work a possibility for you? Try out ProofHub for Free 30-Day Trial and see how it helps you to plan, collaborate, organize and deliver things right on time from wherever you are working!

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6 lessons aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from Taher Shah

6 Lessons to  learn from Taher Shah

Love him, hate him; but you most definitely can’t ignore him. That’s Taher Shah. The Pakistani music sensation has taken the industry by storm with his weird lyrics, funny choreography, and uncanny style. With just two songs so far, the singer has already gotten the attention of everyone worldover. While most of the attention he is getting is overloaded with sarcasm, trolling, and all sorts of ridicule; you cannot ignore the fact that he has become an overnight success.

The guy is an epitome of confidence, and despite being a global laughing stock, he has not lost his cool and is always appreciating his fans for their support!

Laugh at him all you want, but we cannot ignore the fact that he made everyone notice him and has reached unprecedented heights of success, one can only imagine. We all can learn a lot from him, especially aspiring entrepreneurs who find it hard to muster-up courage and pursue their career dreams. Here are some lessons that aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from Taher Shah –

1. Believe in yourself

The world is filled with amazingly talented people who are creative beyond imagination. The only thing that’s missing is the lack of belief in their talent. Look at Taher Shah. The guy can barely speak english, and yet his unintentionally funny lyrics won the American Prestige Music Award. Ironic, right! All because he wrote them with conviction and believed in himself. Do not let self-doubt be the anchor weighing you down. Free yourself from the hesitation and just get going.

2. Ignore the criticism

Be it FaceBook troll pages or Twitter hashtags; the guy has become everyone’s food for ridicule. But did that seem to bother him? Nope. What would people think. Don’t let this thinking kill your dreams. Taher Shah barely paid any attention to the mockery targeted at him across the internet. He is always focusing on the positive. He is always thanking his fans for their support and appreciating his music. No matter what you do, people are going to make fun of you. But, learn to rise above what everyone will think of you. And start working on what you think.

3. Make the best out of resources

Perhaps you’re thinking that your career goals are going to demand a whole lot of capital to get started. Look at Taher Shah. His songs didn’t feature super-expensive models or some extraordinary backdrop. The guy is wearing a funny wardrobe (probably something he sewn himself) and the entire video for his brand new song “Angel” is shot in a meadow. The cast included himself and his son. Not the kind of thing that will cost you whole lot of money. So while not everyone is born with a silver spoon; learn to make the most of your resources. Take what you have and think of ways on how you can optimally use them.

4. Follow your heart

Taher Shah didn’t make his videos to impress anyone. He just did it because he wanted to send a message about peace and humanity. And, because it makes him happy. He followed his heart and did something that gives him happiness. His videos are far from perfect with a lot of hard edges. Yet, there’s something so quirky about them that attracts you. You can’t help but listen to his songs. So another career lesson we can learn from Taher Shah is to follow your heart. Do what makes you happy; what you have always aspired to do!

5. Break the convention

All we see these days in the name of music is same cliched lyrics, super hot models throwing the same old moves and basically the same pattern repeated with just few changes here and there. What Taher Shah did was absolutely different from what we normally see or hear. If you really want to stand out, you’ve got to do something that no one has ever done before. Don’t be afraid to break the convention if that’s what it takes to get yourself noticed in the industry.

6. Confidence is the key!

In the middle of a never-ending stream of criticism and discouragement that people throw at you whenever you do something new; confidence is the only thing that gets you through. If you don’t have confidence, you may as well drop the idea of ever being successful. When you lack confidence, it shows on your face and it gives people the chance to trample over you. But when you’re confident, it changes other people’s perception towards you.

Look at Taher Shah. He faced such grilling from so many interviewers. But, he answered all the bold questions gracefully and with confidence. Practice confidence. You may be the most talented person on earth but if you aren’t confident, success will always look like a distant thing. However, if you’re confident enough, even your flaws will get camouflaged.

So, there’s a lot that we all can learn from this singing sensation; not just career-oriented people but everyone! If a simpleton like Taher Shah can learn to rise above everyone’s ridicule and be successful; why can’t you?

What are your thoughts about the post? Do let us know!




10 productivity hacks for chronic procrastinators

10 productivity hacks for chronic procrastinators

Procrastination is what most of us begin our day with. We delay waking up by hitting snooze button several times. Sounds relatable? Guess what? You are not alone! I’m sure majority of us will relate to it. That explains how much we are victimized by this chronic illness called procrastination that almost seems incurable.

Good news is, it’s not incurable. You can definitely get rid of this unproductive habit. But, the prerequisite is to first admit that yes, we do procrastinate. You should be willing to take some strong steps to come out of it, otherwise you will never be able to break free from this vicious cycle.

Let’s take a look at a few hacks that every single procrastinator would benefit from. I’m sure that if you stick to these tips religiously, the only thing you will be procrastinating is the procrastination itself –

1. Prepare yourself mentally

Acknowledge the fact that you put things off and you look for ways to delay stuff until you have no choice but to do it. The moment you acknowledge it, you have taken that first step to making procrastination a history.

Commitment is the key to getting rid of this nasty habit where you always picture yourself working somewhere in the distant future. The future that never actually comes. Make a commitment to yourself that you want to put an end to it. Take firm steps to get into whatever needs to be done, instead of delaying it. Remember nothing can be accomplished unless you are one hundred percent convinced that it’s doable.

2. Create a to-do list

Here’s why you should create one – Dopamine. That’s right. The chemical released by brain every time we accomplish something. It’s what makes you feel like a winner. The upside to having a to-do list (other than organized worklife) is that you get to experience the winner like feeling several times a day.
And, when you strike an item off the list of every day tasks, you feel like you have accomplished something. Sometimes that’s all you need to get going through the day and to keep your motivation levels high.

3. Make it a realistic one

It’s easier to do stuff when you know exactly what needs to be done. That’s why to-dos are recommended in the first place. But simply creating one is not enough. You have to make it a realistic one. Do not create a task list that seems unrealistic and hard to accomplish. Enlist the tasks that are actually doable in a day. It is good to allot time to each task based on a guestimation so you know when to move on to the next one.

It’s okay if you can’t finish things within allotted time, because the idea is to plan in advance so you get a sense of the things that you will be dealing with throughout the day.

4. Create a non-negotiable timeline

Time is a commodity that is not available in the market. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You cannot buy more of it even if you’re a billionaire. Yet, we fail to value it repeatedly until we are too late. Don’t let this be the case. Create a timeline; the one that is simply non-negotiable. Consider it carved in stone and follow it religiously. Stick to it all the time; except for those rare situations when you absolutely cannot.

5. Break work into mini tasks

It’s easy to nibble on smaller bites than to try and swallow a huge piece of meat. The same goes with work. Instead of feeling intimidated by one huge task, break it down into smaller chunks of easily achievable mini tasks. The upside to this practice is that you won’t feel like giving up on a project before even starting it, just because you feel it’s hard to achieve. You will get a clearer picture of how to go about work, and also avoid chances of guesswork.

6. Use motivational reminders

Have a system that motivates you by sending motivational quotes after every couple of hours or so! Use an app, set reminders, do whatever you can to keep feeling positive throughout the day. Sometimes a good quote or a few inspirational words can change your entire perspective and turn a bad day around completely. It can really give that boost you need to get things done without giving yourself a hard time.

7. Block out all distractions

The constant buzzing of the phone, desktop notification informing an email has arrived, or occasional hellos from friends on online messenger; all these may seem trivial distractions, but these are usually the reason behind most delays. I will work right after I am done chatting with friends. I will get started right after I am done checking email. And so on. These are the kind of things that procrastinators tell themselves.

Put an end to it. Step away from the phone. Turn off notifications when you are doing something important. Get rid of all such distractions, so your attention does not get stolen away by unimportant stuff and you stay devoted to the work that really matters.

8. Avoid the mindset of a perfectionist

This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive for perfection, but do not work with the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. Often, fixation with the idea of everything going exactly as planned can keep you away from getting started in the first place. If you wait for the perfect timing to get started, you would end-up waiting forever. Sometimes the idea of achieving perfection alone is usually the reason that people feel it’s better to delay things until the timing is right.

Guess what, timing is barely right. You have to take lemons and make lemonade.

9. Surround yourself with DOERS

The kind of people that you surround yourself with has a lot of impact on your own personality. You may not realize it, but we slowly start becoming the type of people that we spend most of our time with.

If you are mostly surrounded with slackers, you will also start feeling that it’s ok to put things off just because you will always have their approval. The opposite of it is also true, since we tend to unknowingly imitate people around us. If you really want to imitate anyone, make sure it’s productive people. That’s why it’s very important to see to the fact that the people you befriend or talk to on a daily basis are doers, and not procrastinators.

10. Refresh yourself

According to one of the health studies carried out at Orca Health it was revealed that, “taking regular breaks during the work day can improve productivity and mental acuity, reduce fatigue, relieve joint or muscle pain, and increase overall alertness.”

It’s good to be hard working, but don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t confuse business with productivity. Take a stroll after every hour or so. If you keep yourself glued to the screen or whatever you are working on, you won’t ever be productive. Go out, listen to a good song, or do whatever you can to recharge yourself. Taking occasional breaks won’t hamper your productivity, but only increase it. A tired mind is much more likely to procrastinate. It takes longer to generate same amount of output that a rested mind can do in less than half the time.

If you are really seriously about putting an end to procrastination, you don’t even need to follow all of these steps. Just take a few or a combination of them, and stick to them religiously. Pick any or all; depending on whichever you think you can work on. And, procrastination will be a history!




Project management myths : BUSTED

project management myths busted

Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.” said the famous American actress Barbra Streisand. Dwelling in the sphere of fallacies, it boils down to the fact that we remain unknown to the true and real.

But have you ever imagined the blunders these false beliefs can cause? George Bernard Shaw, the renowned Irish playwright, once said – “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”. Like every other sphere of life, project management arena also witnesses several myths. Well, it’s time to step back and examine them. Here we go:

  • Planning for contingencies is a waste of time

Often, managers and companies encourage the ‘Just Do It’ approach and believe that investing time on contingency planning is vain. Think of a situation when a deadline is missed, regardless of whatever the reason is, then what will you do? Why not be prepared with a plan B when plan A fails to work. The major advantage of developing a contingency plan is that it acts as a backup whenever there’s a failure,  disaster or an emergency. Its main purpose is to let you deal with unusual events and keep risks at bay.

  • Sacrificing quality for the sake of on-time delivery

Your project is well planned and things are going as they were supposed to. But, then suddenly you just realize that the deadline is going to be missed and things will still be left incomplete. So, what would you do during such situations? Deliver it half-done? An incomplete product simply means more errors and inconsistency. Why not invest more on resources or push the deadline further, if possible. That’d certainly be better!

  • Battles have to be fought and won, every time!

All generalizations are false, including this one”, said Mark Twain, the well-known American author and humorist. It’s good to be passionate about your job; but that doesn’t mean you should always be the winner. While the project goes on, you’ll face not one but many situations where things might not go the way you want them. But that’s okay! Sometimes it’s better to compromise and let things happen. You just need to see which battles are worth fighting and which ones are not, so that you can be a winner in the end.

  • Project management tools are just additional expenses

It’s hard to get over this stereotypical notion. Investing in a tool for project management is considered to be an overhead, especially when so many expenses are going around already. This notion gets even stronger when companies buy applications which require purchase of servers, extensive installations, and what not. Good thing is, that’s not true anymore. In the age of cloud computing, you can simply opt for a cloud or web-based project management software that are easily affordable. These subscription based software offers the added advantage of pay-as-you-go service, so there won’t be a hole in your pocket.

  • Project management tools need expertise to be used

There were days when operating tools was thought to be the job of those who were expert in technology. But that’s no more a constraint. However, because of this false belief many companies and entrepreneurs hesitate to even lay their hands on technological tools. Today, PM software are so intuitive and user-friendly that you don’t need any special expertise or technical know-how to use them. If you know how to use a computer, can browse online, upload & download files, etc. then within a few mouse clicks you’d be able to break the project into manageable pieces. These software act as valuable aid in getting your PM capabilities into action – you can learn and practice your skills better.

Let’s go beyond the myths…

Folks! It’s time to pause and give a second thought to your project management approach. Don’t conjure with such false beliefs anymore; stay aware and make the change.

What about you? Would you like to share and add any project management myths to the above list?




5 steps to ensure project success

5 simple steps that can help you crack the code to make each project successful

According to KPMG survey of Project Management practices (New Zealand), “70% of all the organizations have suffered at least one project failure in the prior 12 months!”

According to a study published in The Guardian Newspaper (UK) on the topic Investigation into Government waste in the UK since year 2000, it was reported that “$4 billion was spent by the government in wasted efforts as a result of failed projects.”

These statistics reflect that project failure is a common thing in corporate companies from all across the globe. And, this is the reason that the role of a project manager becomes even more important. After all, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that every project not only starts with a bang, but also meets the required deadlines and ends up in success.

So, what’s the trick to ensure that every project is a success? Well, there ain’t just one thing that you need to do when it comes to achieving success with every project. Here is the complete list of things that you need to do for the same –

1. Inspire and be inspired

Inspiration is the bug that you need every one of your team members to be bitten with. A great team leader is the one who can marshal the troops and inspire them to come out in flying colors every single time. If you want your team to achieve more than they did before, then inspire them to try things harder than they ever did before. I’d be suggesting talk to them personally, discuss the things that are bothering them and suggest what better could be done; be the friend they need when stuck in crisis.

2. Define it, want it, believe it

Starting a project without having clearly defined goals is like going to a war without having the right ammunition. Failure, as a result, is quite evident in such cases. A well-defined plan embarks the beginning of a project where people have clearly defined goals, and therefore can put in their best efforts to achieve the desirable results. Get the entire team together before the beginning of a new project to discuss what’s expected from the project, what could be done to make it successful, create a road map for each step and share their accountability for assigned tasks.

3. Get the right pieces at the right place to solve the puzzle

Completing a project successfully is like completing a big puzzle. You cannot achieve success unless you have all the pieces at their right places. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to bring the right set of wheels together to get the cart moving. Assign tasks to team-members based on their areas of expertise to get maximum output from the resources and desired outcome from each task. After all, you cannot expect a coder to do the designing work and a writer to do the coding part.

4. Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more

According to the findings of a recent study carried out by the Project Management Institute, “Organizations risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project. And, $75 million of that $135 million (56 percent) is put at risk by ineffective communications.” Clearly, the corporate world is in dire need of solutions to bring effective communication to the game. Project management software and online collaboration tools can play a big role to eliminate the differences in expectations, any last minute surprise or poor knowledge of status of tasks. Think about employing one for your team.

5. How do you gauge success?

Achieving success in a project is one thing, but the big question is how do you measure success? Is it the monetary benefits that you attained as a result of it? Or is there any personal learning curve? This is where as a project manager, it becomes your responsibility to clearly define what success in a project means to the organization, as well as your team. This will help you to not only take consistent action in the direction of your goals, but at the same time help you multiply the results as well. Set parameters to measure success at the beginning and analyze whether they  were achieved at the end or not. If not, what went wrong and why; so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

Think over these pointers and I’m sure you will have a better idea about the problems that lead to failure in your projects, and how can you work for changing the scenario.

Do you have any other trick up your sleeve? Share in the comments section below.




Top 5 reasons why project managers can’t sleep at night

sleepless nights

A project manager is someone who has to oversee a lot more than what sometimes may seem humanly possible. Apart from handling, managing, and interacting with teams they are answerable to their bosses as well. Not to mention they are the ones who are responsible for the success as well as failure of the project.

Allocating resources, distributing tasks, overseeing the progress – in the middle of so much to juggle, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise if things begin to fall through the cracks. Even the smallest things not going according to plan is enough to give project manager sleepless nights.

Here’s something that all those insomniacs who are finding project management the reason for their sleepless nights would be able to relate to –

  1. Sudden change in priorities

Change is often unpleasant. And when we talk about it in a corporate setting, it can sometimes make you cringe and can cause you to lose you sleep.

Out of nowhere, you are suddenly faced with a shift in priorities without any previous warnings. One minute you are devoted to one project and the next minute, you are told to put everything else on hold, and get started with a brand new set of priorities, and tasks, and what not!

So, what’s the cure for times like these?

First off, you need to adjust your expectations. Never get too comfortable in any situation. As a project manager, change is going to be your constant companion, so you might as well get used to it. As soon as you introduce a shift in attitude and expectations, half the work is done already.

I know that change is mostly sudden, and most of the time it brings along a lot of negative emotions such as denial and anger, before the eventual acceptance. But that’s the hard truth of corporate world. If you are finding it hard, talk to people who are able to adapt themselves without much resistance to this new situation that has come. Talk to them about how they are doing it and pick up a few change management strategies.

  1. Not knowing what the team members are up to

Once the tasks have been assigned and workflow has been decided, all a project manager can do is wait for the team members to get on with the ‘doing’ part. During that phase, the manager may feel a little lost and out of touch not knowing how things are heading. The situation gets worse in the absence of a centralized access that could let you see the bigger picture in a clearer way.

This mostly happens when teams rely only on spreadsheets and stuff like that for collaboration, rather than having something that could lead the team in a unified manner. This is yet another reason that can make a lot of project managers go insomniac.

Here’s what to do about it –

Bring in a project management tool. Project management tools give you access to seeing the bigger picture in the most precise manner. When you are juggling with several projects simultaneously, you can see the current status of all the projects in the exact way as it is. While there are several project management software out in the market, you might want to filter down the options to the ones that come with the kind of features that serve your individual purpose.

  1. Missing deadlines

This has to be one of the most dreadful moments for any project manager. While managers get to enjoy the credit for project’s success, they are also the ones who have to break the bad news to clients when things go south. No matter how much you resist it, you will have to do this tough job of telling the client that a certain commitment cannot be fulfilled ahead of time.

What’s the fix –

A lot of times the reason for teams failing to meet the deadline is being unrealistic in terms of how long it is going to take. It is not uncommon for a project manager to agree to the deadline set by the client just to sound impressive. Instead of avoiding tough conversations where you might need to convince the clients that the project could take longer, than what is being demanded by the client.

The only solution to this problem is to be realistic in terms of how much time it is likely to take. Discuss with the team before promising a set delivery date to the client and take things on from there.

  1. Being a perfectionist

This is another reason that gives nightmares to a lot of project managers. You want things to go exactly as you planned them. You want the project to get off without a hitch, deadlines to be met on time, and every single task to go exactly the way you had imagined. But, that can happen only when absolutely no changes in project requirements, resources, workforce, etc. take place, which let’s get real, is almost never a possibility. The condition would demand that project does not run into any financial crisis, no one falls sick, and everything goes precisely as planned.

The only solution to this problem is being realistic in terms of everything. You have to be ready for the possibility that things might run into problem, or that the staff may fall sick, and untimely crisis could arise out of nowhere.

Leave plenty of margin for all sorts of errors and have multiple backup plans to put in motion, should things deviate from the plan. Plan as much for uncertainty as you can, so you could have a good night’s sleep while the project is going smooth!

  1. Trust issues

You might be finding it hard to trust your team members fully. Even before that, you might be finding it hard to trust your own competence. And that doubtfulness becomes apparent on your face. You might be wondering, ‘do my team members trust me enough to lead them and make the project success a reality’. When such a situation arises, chances are you are going to have sleepless nights.

How to fix it –

I’d say that the only thing you need to fear is the fear itself. The best cure to win other people’s confidence is to first be confident about yourself. Even if you are feeling a little terrified and doubtful of how things will work out, don’t let it show on your face. The good old adage ‘fake it till you make it’ fits here perfectly.

As for the trust issues with team members, make sure not to let any bad experiences from the past with anyone affect your present. Also, be sure to check the accuracy of the information being fed to you, before using it as a basis to form your opinion about anyone. Avoid forming any sort of preconceived notions about others at all costs.

Those were a few scenarios that almost every manager would have faced at some point of his career. If you are also suffering through insomnia lately, you might be able to resonate to them. And, I’m sure the cure that I’ve provided at the end of every point will prove to be helpful to you to come out of it!




Why lazy people are the best managers

Project manager

“I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job. Because, he will find an easy way to do it.” – Bill Gates

Just like Bill Gates, most of the successful men on this earth are advocates of laziness. Being part of the corporate environment myself, I too strongly agree that lazy people are often the most productive ones especially when we talk about the managers. While sloth may be seen as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, managers victimized by sloth are often the smartest.

Here’s the true story of all project managers who usually turn out to be highly productive even with their laid back disposition –

  • They don’t like to waste time

Need to conduct a quick meeting? A lazy manager would rather stay confined within his cubicle and stick to an online conversation than arranging a face to face meet. He would stick to the easiest way out – to use an online collaboration tool. Instead of first informing everyone individually about the meet and then waiting for them to arrive, a lazy manager would always prefer to go online and get the meeting started. Such a manager is more likely to avoid wasting time and energy.

  • They are smart workers

Lazy managers know that to make the cut, it’s the blade of the axe that needs sharpening rather than a hard swing. They have all the tips and tricks up their sleeve to take the efforts out of even the most tedious job. They might not get started on something easily, but when they do they make every single second of their time count. Such managers are great planners, because they know it will go a long way in cutting down the workload later in the process.

  • They know how to use resources wisely

Lazy managers don’t like the idea of do-overs and rework. To avoid reworking they try and get things done correctly in the very first go. They deploy the most creative resources to carry out the most difficult tasks, so there’s minimal need of any rework. Lazy managers value their resources whether they are human resources or tangible ones. They know their best resources and use them in the best possible manner to get things done right every single time.

  • They are expert in task selection and execution

Often laid back managers try to get the maximum work done while putting in minimum effort. Which is why, they are very selective in undertaking tasks. Let’s just say they are really great at recognizing the 20% work area that demands the 80% of the overall efforts (the Pareto principle). Or in simpler words, they know how to execute tasks in the best possible manner.

  • They avoid multitasking

Multitasking is the last thing on the mind of a lazy project manager. They take one thing at a time, which naturally helps them to achieve perfection. This inadvertently proves to be one of the most productive traits needed for successful handling of projects, as studies have also shown that human brain is not made for multitasking.

  • They know the best tools available for managing projects

One of the core ingredients to make a project successful is to have the right tools for handling each aspect in them. Lazy managers know which tasks are best left on automation using software and which ones can need manual input. Since lazy managers try to minimize manual efforts, they are knowledgeable about the tools that can be used to produce maximum output.

  • They know how to get things done

Managing a project is an art. But to become adept at this art, you need people skills as well. That’s exactly what a project manager has to do i.e. get things done by others. An active manager is more likely to do a lot of micromanaging. But, lazy managers on the other hand let others do the tasks. That’s probably why lazy managers are likely to have the most productive teams instead of those who are always super active or frenzied. 

  • They don’t interfere much in the work of others

The best project managers are always entrusting of their team members, which is why you won’t often catch them checking up on others after every single hour. Their laziness allows them to ensure minimum amount of interruption in other people’s work. This in turn allows the team members to live up with the expectation and achieve perfection in whatever they are doing.

Are you a lazy manager? Can you resonate with the points above? Would you like to share some other habits of lazy managers to the list that make them the best? Do share your thoughts!

Image Credit:Timothy Krause/Woman sleeping with Jane Austen on Flickr.




Leadership lessons to learn from 12 Angry Men – the movie

Leadership lessons to learn from '12 Angry Men'

The first time I got to know about “12 Angry Men” was a few years back when I was reading one of the books on management. The book mentioned an activity where readers were requested to watch this 1957 black and white classic on group dynamics. So, I did! I have to say, the 96 intense and claustrophobic minutes of this classic hit tell a lot about leadership, decision-making, team-building, and behavioural analysis.

For those of you who have watched it would be able to relate to the blog. For those who haven’t – do put it on your watch-list. 12 Angry Men chronicles the murder trial of an 18-year old boy from a slum, charged with stabbing his father to death. It is about a jury of 12 different individuals from distinct backgrounds; given the task of deciding unanimous whether the boy is guilty or not.

It is a perfect portrayal of how people act in groups and what all phases teams go through before reaching to a unanimous decision. Viewers can learn a lot about how people working within communities and organizations can influence others for the better.

You can take-away a lot of lessons on leadership and management, but below is a non-exhaustive list of what I took from it –

  • Empathizing

Right from the beginning – Henry Fonda’s character tries to walk into the boy’s shoes; what it must have been like to live in a slum and grow up in a violent environment. Instead of rushing to judgement, potentially a prejudiced one; he tries to see things from the boy’s perspective. This is a great example of empathizing with others. The same holds true during meets and discussions.

Try to find the reason behind why people are saying what they are saying. Walking into others’ shoes will allow you to feel how a decision is likely to affect others and how it may impact things in the long-run. Empathizing makes you see the bigger picture more clearly!

  • Choosing right over easy!

The character of Henry Fonda could have easily voted ‘guilty’ when the rest 11 jurors did the same. But he saw what was at stake – the life of a potentially innocent boy. So, he decided to go with the difficult path which meant not only standing against the rest 11 jurors, but also changing their behaviour without disrespecting their opinions. The easy path would have been avoiding hours of difficult and long conversations by voting ‘guilty’. So, during discussions, try to come out of the shell, break free of our comfort zone, and take a stand!

  • Tone matters

After watching 12 Angry Men, I realized that the most influential jurors who were able to make a point were the ones who maintained a steady and calm disposition throughout the discussion. Those who kept yelling, lost their temper, shouted, and attempted to impose their views and arguments were the ones to soon lose their persuasive ability. Short-tempered and aggressive folks did make an impact – just not the one they really wanted to.

In order to be heard, you don’t need to be aggressive. Assertiveness, right tone of voice, and putting your arguments with conviction is the way to make a point.

  • Having a different perspective

People vs. sheeple. Where do you belong? I know the latter is not a standard dictionary word, but you get the point, right! Fonda delivered an outstanding performance depicting how he chose to have a different opinion when the odds were 11:1. Don’t be a sheep, blindly following others’ opinions without putting your analytical abilities to use. Most people fail to put forward their views out of fear of ridicule or rejection. Try to avoid herd behaviour. Gather the courage to get your message through, even if it means standing against the ridicule of others.

  • Giving time to important decisions

When the jurors gathered, eleven of them just wanted to get it over with. So they chose to do the easy thing of voting the boy guilty without offering any insight into the matter. They didn’t want to invest any time and intellectual efforts. If a decision is important, devote plenty of time. In the movie, the life of a boy was at stake. Find out what the stakes are and accordingly plan discussions and move ahead with conversations!

  • Nudging others

You cannot impose your views. That’s taken! Fonda realized this, which is why at no point he tried to force anyone into voting ‘not guilty’. He used subtle techniques to nudge others. Trying to get your views accepted by others involves dealing with a complex network of countless emotions and social interactions; not to mention the ever-persistent desire of people to resist change. The sign of good leadership is finding ways to nudge others using subtle techniques instead of pushing them. Having an emotional insight combined with the ability to reason is what makes a good leader!

Last, but not the least thing I learned from this movie is to always follow your gut instincts. Your gut usually tells right! Henry Fonda went with his instincts, which allowed him to put forth his views with conviction. Do the same in a way that would influence everyone else’s perspective on the matter as well.

So, what do you think of it? Have anything more to add here? Share in the comments section below.




How to remain insanely productive at work? Productivity tips from industry experts

Loved by more than 75,000 small and big sized teams from all across the globe, ProofHub is an online project management and collaboration tool designed to make teams more productive at whatever they do. And, being part of an industry where everything revolves around productivity, we are always on the lookout for productivity hacks, tips, tricks and other stuff that can make people more productive than they are right now.

So this time around, we thought why not get in touch with some of the brainiacs of the project management industry to get an answer to the question ‘What keeps their productivity levels high?’ We asked them about their secrets; the ones they follow to keep on being productive every single day. Do they have any magic potion that they sip-in daily or productivity is just a habit?

Here is the list of project managers that we got in touch with for the tips –

  • Susanne Madsen, Project leadership coach. Author of ‘The Project Management Coaching Workbook’ and ‘The Power of Project Leadership’.
  • Elizabeth Harrin, Author of Social Media for Project Managers & Customer-Centric Project Management, Director of @otobosgroup.
  • Linky Van Der Merwe, Project Manager, Blogger, Adviser of recommended PM resource
  • Bert HeymansSenior Project Manager
  • Peter Taylor, Project Management Speaker and Author
  • Tor, brain behind the award winning blog http://www.timemanagementchef.com/  

As successful project managers, these professionals have quite a lot on their platter to share with people who are looking to make it big by being productive at their jobs. And, this is what they had to say –

1.  

SusanSusanne Madsen  @SusanneMadsen
Project leadership coach. Author of ‘The Project Management Coaching Workbook’ and ‘The Power of Project Leadership’.

  • Focus on your most important tasks single-minded
  • The best tip is to start the day with a clear intention on what you must absolutely complete and then focus on those tasks single-minded. Identify the activities that tend to disrupt your work, and find a way around them. You can for instance avoid checking emails and answering the phone when you’re in the middle of something important.
  • Discipline yourself to work on a task until it’s complete, as once you’ve broken your flow, it can be difficult to reestablish it.
  • Many of us multi-task and believe we’re effective when we do so; but evidence suggests that 96% of the population can’t effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. In order to stop multi-tasking, set specific time aside for meetings, returning calls and for doing detailed planning and analysis work at your desk. Whenever you find yourself multitasking, stop and sit quietly for a minute.

2. 

Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-toolElizabeth Harrin @pm4girls
Author of Social Media for Project Managers & Customer-Centric Project Management, Director of @otobosgroup.

Block meetings with yourself to do actual work. Otherwise you’ll end up in other people’s meetings all day and with no time to pick up your actions. Having time booked in your diary gives you the focus you need to sit down and complete a task, such as updating your risk log or reviewing your annual objectives.

3. 

LinkyLinky Van Der Merwe @virtualpm
Project Manager, Blogger, Adviser of recommended PM resource

Being a bit of an old-school project manager, I have two productivity tools that I use on a daily basis, because they work.

  • I use a hard-cover A-4 book to write down my planning for the week. This helps me to keep a certain work rhythm and not to miss anything important. Urgent and Important tasks are transferred to my calendar, like an appointment with myself. I can relax once it’s written down, because I know my week is not finished unless my weekly tasks are complete.
  • The other tool I cannot live without, is Microsoft’s OneNote. It’s part of the Office suite of applications, free on every PC/laptop when using MS Office. It’s like an electronic filing cabinet where I keep all my notes from various meetings, whether progress meetings, ad hoc meetings, discussion or workshops. It saves and syncs automatically with your windows live account; and is easy to share via email.

4. 

Bert HeymansBert Heymans @bertheymans
Senior Project Manager

These are the things that I found make a particular difference in my productivity:

  • Habits are everything.
  • Do the hardest thing first. (read the “Eat That Frog” book by Brian Tracy)
  • Work out! You can find numerous sources online where Richard Branson mentions this is his most significant productivity booster, and if it’s good for Richard Branson it’s good for me.
  • Recognize that procrastination is a symptom, not a cause.
  • Think positive, because thoughts become words and words become actions.
  • Recognize that we overestimate what we can do in one year, but underestimate what we can do in 5 years.
  • Talk to yourself in the present tense if you want to start doing something, say it out loud if you can (example: “I am cleaning out the garage”) Apparently this tricks your brain.

5. 

Peter TaylorPeter Taylor @thelazypm
Project Management Speaker and Author

Always ask yourself three questions before taking action:

  • Do I want to do it?
    Don’t do something just because everyone else is or because it’s the ‘usual thing to do’. Just running with the pack is never going to allow you to take control of your own time and will only lead you into over-commitments.
  • Is the result worth my effort?
    Only do the things with the most impact. It is all about applying the good old 80/20 rule. What are the most critical things that you need to get involved in? What is the 20% that will deliver the 80% of value?
  • Do I have to do this myself?
    Ask yourself if you really are the best person to do whatever it is that needs to be done or is there someone else who is better qualified than you to do this thing? At every opportunity you must think your actions through to the end and aim to optimize the return on your personal investment.

6.

Tor   Tor @TorRefsland
Brain behind the award winning blog http://www.timemanagementchef.com/

  1. Plan your day the night before
    The experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution.  In order to become super productive you should know EXACTLY which tasks you should be working on at any given time. How can this be achieved? To plan in advance. I would strongly recommend you to plan one week ahead. This will save you a ton of time. In addition, instead of just responding to other people’s requests, you will have control over your schedule and week.
  1. Use a master to do list
    You should only have ONE to do list, and it should be your master to do list. Why do I call it a master to do list? Because it will contain ALL the activities that you need to do. If the activities aren’t included in your master to do list, they won’t get done.
  1. Apply the ABCDE method and the 80/20 rule
    A tasks – are tasks that you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
    B tasks – are tasks that you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
    C tasks – are tasks that you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
    D tasks – are tasks you delegate to other people
    E tasks – are tasks you eliminate, you never do them

Use the 80/20 rule to identify your most important tasks, which will be your A tasks. Pareto’s law says that 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the total production value. This means that if you have 10 tasks on your to do list today, and you ONLY complete the 2 most important tasks, they will give you 80% of the total result.

  1. Get up 2 hours earlier

Studies have shown that most people are the most productive the first 2 hours after they get up from bed. That is why THAT time should be spent on your most important tasks. This may of course vary from individual to individual. Some people are the most productive during the evening, while others are night owls. The key is to find out WHEN you are the most productive, and then block that time out for your most important tasks.

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When you need to hire a manager

when to hire a project manager

Coordinating multiple departments in a company is like trying to solve a puzzle. You try to connect all the dots for things to make sense. When a start-up gets off the ground, very small workforce and a few operations need management. As the company grows, so does the size of operations, number of people, and everything in-between. After a certain point of time, it becomes inevitable to hire a project manager, because there is only so much that one person can handle.

It is natural for a business owner to try and manage as many things on his own as he possibly can in order to save finances. But once you reach tipping point, this practice can turn counterproductive. The only way to increase productivity is to hire someone competent enough to oversee the entire workforce and manage tasks across all departments. That’s when a company starts looking for a PM (project manager). So, what are those cues that tell now is the time to hire a PM. Keep reading –

Conflicting priorities
Different individuals may be busy with variety of operations, but eventually they are working towards the same goal. They need to be constantly reminded of what is to be finally achieved from all the efforts. Unless there is someone to constantly remind that, people may lose track of those goals and start having a difference in priorities. In the absence of a manager, it gets harder for everyone to direct their collective efforts towards that goal.

If you observe conflict in priorities brimming among departments, take it as a sign that it’s about time you looked for a PM (project manager). It is the PM who directs the teams across departments. He is the one who sorts things out on the basis of priorities. Otherwise, the teams may be stuck doing things that are no longer important, and forget to do things that actually matter at the moment.

Repeated failure in staying ahead of schedule
Time is money. For a company, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week just don’t seem enough. The ability to meet deadlines and deliver results in a timely fashion is what makes a company credible and governs its reputation in industry. If you feel that lately everyone is facing a hard time accomplishing things on time despite all the efforts, it may be time to consider hiring a project manager.

It is not possible for one manager to manage things beyond a certain point. There is a limit to how much one person can do. After that it will become a necessity to deploy more managers to iron out the project details in a better way. No company wants to lose its credibility among clients. But, consistently failing to deliver output on time can damage that reputation. Don’t let that happen. Let a manager guide teams to always complete tasks ahead of schedule.

Growing disagreements
Work becomes easier when there is harmony in professional relations and everyone has agreed to the same style and division of work. In a stressed environment where everyone seems to be having a difference of opinion, quality of work will automatically go down. Even a small task will seem like a huge challenge. When there is no one to oversee things, disagreements are bound to grow. However, a project manager is someone who helps people tackle these challenges in the easiest possible ways.

Managers decide the levels of hierarchy, authority, and responsibility, and who reports to whom. Lack of such arrangements can give rise to personal conflicts, and disagreements will rise. A project manager does more than just distribute work and assign responsibilities. He also sees to the fact that there is harmony within the team. A manager knows how to resolve interpersonal issues in a work setting before they become grave and start affecting productivity.

Exceeding budget limits
Nobody will ever face a problem if we had unlimited resources for accomplishing things. That’s where the challenge lies – to get things done under limited resources and budget. It’s natural that a company would want to cut down the costs of operations in every possible way. Not hiring a project manager is one of the ways in which companies try to save funds. But, for how long? Once the level of operations, workload, and number of employees start to increase, there is going to be need of someone to manage things on a bigger level.

Otherwise, the loss due to being unproductive and failure to meet goals on time will exceed the funds that the company was trying to save in the first place by not hiring a manager. If the company is having to constantly put in more funds than estimated to achieve same output, this may be another cue to start interviewing candidates for the designation of project manager. Managers can get things done in a way that time and resources don’t get wasted. Employees will notice an instant jump in overall productivity and performance when a manager comes in the picture. This will ultimately avoid wastage of funds and all other resources.

Increasing workforce
You may ignore all other signs. But, this one is the most clear indicator that now is the time to look for a manager. If you run a company, ask yourself, what’s the maximum number of people that you can practically manage on your own. Or, how many employees can one manager handle? If the ratio of workforce to the number of managers is increasing, don’t think twice before you start looking for competent project managers. Don’t wait for the counter-productivity to start showing in work. Hire someone before that happens. Increasing number of clients, projects, and divisions – all these things call for a bigger workforce and more managers to manage them. All and all, as the company branches off further and departments expand, expand your network of managers too.

Let me just wrap it up by saying that if you sense the need of a new PM, take it as a positive sign. Because, it simply means that the company is growing. It’s a sign of growth and development. Isn’t that what every single business strives for?

What are your thoughts about this post? Do let me know in the comments.