Ear sharpeners are phrases that require attention. Messages consist of descriptions that are intended to convey facts. Additionally, speakers send hidden messages about themselves. The key to these disclosures often lies in the first words. The background can be deciphered by asking appropriate questions.
Let’s look at some new ear sharpeners.
- I would…
The good news that is signaled with this beginning is that someone is thinking about what to do. If the sentence furthermore starts with “I”, the probability increases that the person is trying to find the solution by oneself. But if then the word would follows, it is unclear whether this person is willing to get involved personally. Example: I’d like to try another solution.
To keep the speaker active, you can immediately react: Good idea! Go for it!
- Objectively speaking…
Statements can be interpreted in different ways. In order to give more weight to the content, one eliminates the conceit of personal bias by explicitly emphasizing objectivity. This neutrality does not exist, since all propositions are always subjectively colored. Statements always depend on the location and experience of the observer. This becomes apparent, when several people describe the same facts differently. Example: From an objective point of view, only these options remain.
In order to ensure that you come as close as possible to the actual facts of the case, further evidence can be asked for: Are there any other factual contributions?
- I really mean it!
Statements can announce activities and convey opinions and feelings. They concern the speaker or represent his or her assessments. The real intentions of a person cannot be seen in the utilized words. For this reason the speakers underline their importance by making the seriousness clear through this ear sharpener. Example: We have to try harder to reach our goal, otherwise we will have problems. I really mean it.
In order to use the momentum of the speaker’s decisiveness, one should challenge its seriousness: Let’s immediately sit together and determine the next steps.
- That’s just the way it is.
Some conversations end with the statement that there is nothing more to say, because that is simply the way it is. This classical killer phrase is an attempt to nip any statements and contradictions in the bud. Example: We can’t do this. That’s just the way it is.
In this case you can help the speaker out of his resistance: What could we further use so that it works differently?
- Based on my long experience…
A particularly immodest statement is the reference to one’s own competences. Since a speaker always talks about himself or herself with his or her words, it is important to focus attention on possible weaknesses or concerns of the person. Example: I know this weak point based on my long experience.
This is a good opportunity to reuse the wealth of experience by asking: How have you solved this so far?
Bottom line: Statements often contain additional signals that help to better understand the speaker’s intentions and to react appropriately. Theorists, realists, serious, simplifying and experienced people deliver messages in addition to the content, which make their real intentions recognizable by the used phrases. It is worth paying attention to these ear sharpeners and using them as an amplifier for oneself.
The image that we have of project managers is determined by our imagination. A project is a temporary undertaking of different size with a clear start and end as well as the required resources – personnel, budget, and infrastructure. Managers are personalities with the role that includes controlling the activities with wide-ranging authority and responsibility for the results. In the end, a project manager actually is a doer, founder, employer, entrepreneur, or leader. The fact that this task is often limited to the role of a clerk or a coordinator without power, explains the fact that projects often do not achieve their objectives.
The company founder normally starts one business at a time. The wrong expectations towards project leaders result in a lack of empowerment and are reflected in the number of parallel projects to be managed – a single project has 100% attention (40 hours per week); each of four projects 25% (10 hours per week); with eight projects 13% each (5 hours per week). Depending on the modus operandi (e.g. PMBoK, PRINCE, GPM or even agile approaches) the activities may differ. However, in any case, communication with the participants has to take place, the team has to be led on request and daily and weekly reports have to be prepared.
- Required communication
This includes the taking care of emails, phone calls and meetings. On average, we have to deal with 21 to 50 daily emails and 11 to 50 phone calls. In addition, meetings with the project teams, managers and external parties are needed, each of which takes between 15 to 60 minutes or even more. With several projects, the project manager sometimes only has one hour per week for this exchange.
- Appropriate leadership
Leading includes personal alignment with employees and managers (e.g. feedback, target agreement, personal career), solving disputes and crises, and providing motivation and support. With in a year, this quickly accounts for 20% of working time – i.e. one day per week across various projects. Of these eight hours per week, sometimes only one hour is available for leadership per initiative.
- Mandatory reports
Comprehensibility is the essential purpose of the reports. Many addressees assume that up-to-dateness, accuracy, consistency and significance come at the push of a button. However, the project manager ensures through random samples that the data and figures provided by the team members are in a timely and correct manner that fit to each other. Daily controlling is the prerequisite for always up-to-date data that are regularly integrated to overarching reports.
- Overarching tasks
The summary of the daily data to weekly, monthly, quarterly milestone and final reports regarding the progress of the project, the employees deployed, the financial consumption as well as the need for action and decision making creates for various stakeholders a current overview. In addition, certain tasks take place weekly, such as the start and end of the week, including lessons learned and plan adjustments. The number of reports can vary from one project to another. With multiple projects, the project manager may merely spend an hour a week to produce conclusive reports in the respective initiative.
- Remaining time
The rest is available for other spontaneous tasks – content-related, relational and personal activities. With several projects, the project manager may have only one hour per week for unexpected tasks.
Bottom line: It should be clear that this workload cannot be compensated by overtime. Projects are the form for today’s tasks. If one takes the objectives seriously and really wants to achieve the desired results, then those ordering parties should offer under all circumstances the project management the chance to commit oneself to one project or to accept the fact that the project will fail with a two-thirds probability. Otherwise: Project managers with five parallel projects have only eight hours per project and week.