I’m not sure I ever realized the value of “team-building” until I came to Mindscape. As our company has continued to grow from 12 people when I started to nearly 30 now, it’s more important than ever that we like each other. I don’t just mean as colleagues, but as people too. Mindscape has created a culture where this is possible. Each year, we go on a company trip that brings us together as an entire group. What I wanted to do was take that to a smaller level just for the people on my specific team. So we headed out to a Project Management conference in Chicago. Considering that my group is made up of 3 men and me, it was a little daunting for me as a new, female manager. I am definitely happy with how well the trip went and how much everyone seemed to get out of the seminar. Here are some of the things I took away from it both as a new manager and as a PM.
- You know how you always want what you don’t have? Well, I've always craved creativity. I learned in the seminar that I could be more creative if I don’t let my left-brain get in the way… being the fact that I love my left-brain, this one is going to be hard for me! There are great mind-mapping tools out there to help with this like Free Mind or Concept Draw.
- I’m going to forever be working on my problem solving and communication skills. These skills will always have to be adaptable to any situation you’re in as a manager.
- I realize that getting to know my people is only going to help me manage them and help us communicate better. This goes for the programmers I work with very closely as well. They can be a different breed with which to communicate (and I think they’d agree), but that’s a whole other blog post.
- One of my goals for the seminar was to get ideas on how to scope better. Though there were no specific tactics, I took away some general ideas. i.e. exposing all expectations up front is key – from timelines, to budgets to technical requirements. Its hard to hit everything, every time, but that’s what scope changes are for.
Project Manager Me:
- I’m excited to implement using binders for each one of my projects so I can easily take it with me from meeting to meeting and keep all notes in one place (a suggestion by our seminar leader).
- One of my goals is to develop some kind of system where I can easily drag and drop tasks to a different day when I’m not able to finish them instead of physically re-writing everything. It would be displayed somewhere in our offices so we can refer to it easily.
- A personal goal is for me to get better at recording action items after meetings. I think the previous statement would also help with this and it could be something I could implement in our department as a whole.
Overall, there were definitely some things I didn't agree with or relate to during the seminar. I mean come on, not only did our seminar leader have a curled handle-bar mustache, but claimed to have an electrical engineering degree and a psychology degree… what a combination! In all seriousness though, there was a big portion of the day spent on gantt charts and talking about some very specific tactics for project management. I think its great to share tool ideas, but by no means do I think there is a “text book” for being a PM. We all have to learn the ways that our company, clients, colleagues and ultimately, how our selves work. All of those things are large factors in how we function to get projects done on time, under budget and with happy client partners and staff. I’m excited to continue these types of seminars with my team so we can pull out anything that might apply to us and see how it works.
I think the best part of our time in Chicago for me was the moment when I was taking notes and listening intently and I realized I’m doing now what I was meant to do. I don’t think in the beginning stages of my career I thought that was possible. I love being a leader, organizer, thinker and process maker. I’m excited for my future.