Category Archives: Careers Advice

Project Management Careers – Embracing Change

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Project Management Interviews – keeping it on track

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Ten ways to motivate your project team

Having worked in a diverse range of businesses from a large blue chip automotive organisation, mid size telematics company to an incredibly small recruitment business I have come across a number of management styles and found some really work and others which truly do need locking away. Most of my motivational work has come through managing globally dispersed teams which is a little harder to execute the below suggestions however I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some fantastic projects in the UK and these tips really do work.

1. Inclusion – this seems more than obvious but how often have you overlooked a team member as “this part isn’t relevant to them”? I agree that it is both wasteful and unproductive to invite members of the team to meetings which aren’t deemed relevant, however an invite should be extended none the less but more importantly ALL team members should be put on copy of the meetings outcome minutes.

2. Meetings with a twist – try to think of ways which will jazz up meetings, keeping them fresh and productive. Set your goals to be met at the start and try taking turns each meeting with different members of the team facilitating – ask each facilitator to use a different method of presentation, keeping the format fresh.

3. Offer up tasks for grabs – there is always a huge list of tasks requiring attention in projects; why not offer some out for other members of the team to take a fresh approach on. The more junior members of the team will appreciate the opportunity to gain insight into different areas and taking this collaborative approach works to pull teams together; ideally the team members picking up the tasks will be choosing them rather than being lumbered with them.

4. Socialise – we may not choose to spend our weekends with our work colleagues, but an evening set aside once a month to go for a bar snack and drink on a Thursday afternoon is a good idea to get the team together in a more relaxed environment. Don’t talk shop – just let people talk and get to know each other outside the pressures of the office. Don’t force the gatherings but ensure all are very welcome to come along.

5. Rewards – some may argue that the reward is your salary, this is the kind of attitude managers with no responsiveness to people management come up with. Rewards can be little things such as food treats and a “thank you” every now and then. But if you have a team working through lunch times over a week to ensure a project is brought to close on time – you could buy the team lunch – either something delivered in or when the project is delivered, take them all out for lunch.

6. Team building events – steer clear of fusty outsourced “motivation” workshops and think about what will really engage the team, an activity which involves some stellar team work such as orienteering for an afternoon.

Leading on to….

7. Team lead activities – ask the team to get involved with designing activities rather than imposing what you think is needed on them.

8. Action based learning – give the team a challenge where they request support but have to define what they need. This type of activity is very beneficial as it promotes reflection on your own actions and doing the activities rather than being instructed.

9. Charity work – give something back to the local community such as getting the team to build a playground, decorate a deserving persons house or clear a wasteland into a nature reserve. Not only will you draw the team together, you will be helping others and what a fantastic piece of PR for the business.

10. Value your team – quite possibly one of the biggest ways to generate team spirit is for management to value the team. Rather than talking about “how much this is costing” but focussing on the benefits to be generated. Be patient, not all results are yielded immediately so accept that real change takes time.

Project Management Job applications – making it happen

Applying for a job can be both exciting and daunting – if you have not been in the market for a new job for a while; you are likely to be unaware of the changes in how recruitment works. For a start you are meeting heavy competition; no longer can you expect to receive a response from employers about your application. Although some employers do endeavour to respond, HR teams have been streamlined and are inundated with applications making it increasingly hard for them to respond to everyone. The competition may not be as daunting as you think though as a large proportion of applications are unsuitable for the roles, however there will always be a few which meet the selection criteria for HR staff. By writing a strong cover letter (note earlier blog) and ensuring your CV is up to date with relevant information to the role and business you are applying to you can ensure you are ticking the boxes and should be placed in the interview shortlist.

Do not assume that applying for a role less senior to your current status is going to put you ahead of the selection process. I have seen a number of instances where a project manager has applied for a project coordinator role and this has brought into question why the individual wants to take a step backwards. In some cases it has been clear that the line manager felt intimidated by the seniority of an applicant as they had more experience than them. If there is a particular reason you are applying for something deemed more junior to you, explain. But in reality, a lot of candidates applying for roles which are more junior do it because they cannot get a role in the current market at their own level. Not a good reason to apply, employers fear that as the market picks up the candidate will move on.

Try to get the balance right – apply for roles which are at a level with your skills and experience or slightly above, demonstrating your appetite for career progression. Carefully pick roles which are well suited to your abilities and ensure you place the job description next to your CV – then tick off the competencies listed on the JD against your CV. If they are asking for something which you haven’t covered in your CV but have done – add a bullet point addressing it. Take out bullets which are not asked for which will allow room for the additions.

Take time applying for roles – do not just send your CV in the excitement of seeing something you would love to do, if you are really that excited then it is clear you need to make the application right.

The CV Righter offers careers guidance as part of the professional CV writing service – for a free CV review and the opportunity to discuss your applications, get in touch today: www.thecvrighter.co.uk