Category Archives: InterGenLink

Creating Business Value by connecting the Generations.

Mentoring is Timeless

header1Taking an interest in the success of others, especially those who are younger, is one of the greatest gifts you can give. It’s the ultimate mentorship program and it’s timeless.

I was blessed to have several adults pour into my life when I was young, and I think it’s why it’s a high priority to me to do for others. Though they have passed away now, the efforts of a retired couple for me will always keep Earl and Bertine alive in me. They often hired me in my early teens to mow and do other upkeep on their rather large property in Arkansas.

Too many memories to write here but I’ll mention one of the strongest. Earl spent his working life building carburetors and was very mechanical however age had taken his eyesight. He channeled his impediment to telling me what to do with my 11 year old hands. It wasn’t easy for either if us but with patience he guided me to repair countless pieces of equipment. It was mostly with words but sometimes I guided his hands to show me by feeling how to take complex machines apart and out them back together again.

Always be ready to give patient guidance and to receive the same. Don’t let the spreadsheets and performance metrics of projects and programs rob you of the opportunity. You’ll be glad.

Where are the Partnerships we Need?

In my former life as a Project Manager- cloaked as  Youth and Family Minister – I saw a significant need for generational healing in the church setting. I saw over and over the fiery zeal of youth extinguished by direct or perceived criticism of effort or intent. On the other side, it was not uncommon to hear seasoned people include “these kids these days…” in their conversation. I also heard a lot of how useless and dumb older people were coming from the other direction.  I thought… “that’s stupid”… and I set about to do something about it. I talked with a lot of people and explored a lot of ideas and the outcome of the quest was a successful leadership program for youth that sought team up people across generations for something bigger than themselves.

Fast forward and I have transitioned to Project Management in the business world. The transition was a positive one for a positive reason, in case you are wondering. I work for a great company and I deal with lots of companies daily. I don’t get taken aback that often, but I’m taken aback when I see the same dynamic playing out in the business world that I saw in the young folk’s world in the past.

I’m excited to hear of the initiatives to connect millennials. Smart companies are restructuring how they do business and what the work place looks like. Cities are being rebuilt with millennials in mind. All of this I get excited about for the future – even though I passed up the targeted age group a good while back. Honestly speaking, however, that doesn’t mean it’s all good or the most productive way to do all things. I’m digesting everything I can on more flexible project management approaches. It’s good, but it’s not all good.

On the other hand, I hear – let’s call them “seasoned professionals” (actually, I qualify) – still lamenting the “kids these days”. Attitudes, dress code, approaches to using the tools (i.e. phones), work ethics -and on and on – permeate discussions.  Are the generalizations true? Sometimes, but not always.  I have learned that sometimes people on their phones in my meetings are doing work for me… not playing games – or maybe they are doing both. I have also learned that someone who is anxious about a software enhancement isn’t dead yet – and has tremendous value to offer.

There are efforts on many fronts to be inclusive and to break down barriers. I see more about one generation “breaking the other” than I do the breaking down barriers between age groups. And that is stupid. I believe enormous business value is being missed over this dynamic – and I want to do something about it. It’s what I do. My motto is, “I’m not afraid to be wrong, but I’m not going to do nothing with projects and people entrusted to my care”.  There’s far more wisdom out there than I have – regardless of age group. If you are willing, please share your thoughts or your answers to these questions.

What commonalities span all age groups as points of agreement?

What business functions or tasks do you see that a “cross generation” team could benefit? What are the things in business or client relationships that are “bigger” than age?

What efforts have you see to bridge the generations at work?

So far, as a PM…

I officially began my career in Project Management in a business setting on October 6, 2015. Before that I served as a youth and family minister who did a whole of projects in the church setting. It’s an interesting comparison and contrast. The journey from my former career started with acquiring PMP certification followed by a roller coaster ride of searching for a career opportunity. Since being hired as a project manager, I’ve learned a whole lot, and continue to learn a lot more every day. I was asked recently what I think is important when beginning a career in Project Management and that caused me to think of these things.

Don’t be afraid to be wrong. There’s a lot to be said for giving it your best shot while being correctable and teachable.  I have found more tools (usually for sale) to manage projects than I can possibly ever understand. Certifications offer a host of tools best used not as a standard to achieve, but as a toolbox from which to pull. Sometimes you can see much of what has to be done, and sometimes it’s foggy. That human tendency to not make a move until you have checked, double checked, verified every detail will make it tough to progress. Study the project’s needs and proceed in a direction until you know better. When you know better, do better.

Don’t do “nothing” on your project (s). This statement follows the first point, in my motto. Get past the fear of being wrong, and then be tenacious about the project. In a world where the absolute least effective way to communicate (email) is used most, by far – well, I just don’t think a PM can be content with that much of the time. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.  Whether it’s a powerful schedule program, an excel sheet, or a post-it on your nose, find a way to track the lose ends. Those are the things that have been my gotchya’s – so don’t do nothing. Carefully dig deeper so that you don’t believe something’s being done or is done, that isn’t. Those loose ends need not be from a slacker, most folks are simply washed away with their work loads. So, don’t do nothing on the project.

Work to truly be a team player.  As much as possible, cultivate a “I’m here to help” culture everywhere you can. I think one can have the best tools, perfect schedule, and watertight plan, but if you must resort to “making” people do their work – whatever that means – it’s a tough road ahead. I’ve already figured out that some PMs are just downright annoying about this. In my view the PM is a leader, a leader of people. When I have been able to “come along beside” a team in a helpful way, I have found a welcome mat and a willingness to work together. That’s not to say that you won’t have to “make” some people do their stuff, but I believe success is a lot closer when you can lead by doing, by being present, by pitching in to help, by understanding and by being willing to work just as hard as you ask anyone else to work. And be positive and optimistic!

That’s my story so far. It may end up like parenting – I thought I knew a lot more about that till I had kids – but I think not fearing being wrong, doing something with projects, and helping your team will help a PM along the way. I’m interested in any thoughts or feedback.

Think Applying for a Job is first with a Job Search? Think Again!

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Material by Chris Maymire

I attend the local chapter of Business Professional Exchange.  Every week we have a lesson and some practice on getting a job.   I’ve learned a great deal so far. Below are notes I took of Mr. Waymire’s recent class on the Quality of Being.

What kind of BEING do you need in a job search?

BE AVAILABLE – Let people know you are available. Don’t assume they know.

BE NICE to everybody.

  • Help the interviewer be the best interviewer.
  • Use rejection letter to write NICE thank you letter reinforcing your skills (maybe they hired the wrong person…).

Be REMEMBERED

  • For what you want to be remembered for, be on your toes
  • Be appropriate in every interaction.
  • Be on your BEST behavior.

Be KNOWN and Be SEEN.

  • Use networking events and get to as many as you can. Networking is about establishing relationships.
  • Be together with people to network.
  • Be connected through networking. Seventy percent of people getting hired knew someone who did delegating bragging for them.

BE IN COMMUNICATION

  • Be CONFIDENT
  • Be ENTHUSIASTIC… Smile! Ask Questions, be engaged.

 Be SPECIFIC

  • What do you want? Be clear about it.
  • Be TARGETED – No shotgun resume approach.
  • DON’T look for the HR person, look for the person I can get my resume to who can get it to a decision maker

Be DETERMINED

  • Embrace failure as a learning experience.
  • Every job search is a series of no’s followed by a yes.
  • Be COMMITTED. Don’t just dabble at a job search
  • Be IN CONTROL. Statistically, takes over 5 hours per day of focusing on Job search to be successful. Spend the time to become an expert at getting a job.

Be Informed

  • Be able to teach the interviewer. Do homework and digging ahead of time.

Be Healthy – can speak to your impression of commitment to the job.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – –

Our class then brainstormed “BE” Qualities and here are the combined results.

  • Be Timely —  10 or 15 minutes early.
  • Follow instructions on resumes
  • Where do I want to spend my time in my search?
  • Be Proactive —  Anticipate things, planning preparing, not waiting for someone to do it for you
  • Be Helpful – what goes around comes around… share Job Leads
  • Be Assertive – not aggression or pushy, but I have a right to ask
  • For what I want
  • Be Careful – Watch for scams and pitfalls, false assumptions
  • But proceed!
  • Watch for the minefields: not prepared for interview, late, cant find it, etc.
  • Be Teachable & Open minded
  • Willing to learn, able to take suggestions
  • Be a Mentor/Teacher to help others
  • Be Sensitive especially to other cultures.
  • Be Honest and Genuine
  • Be Hopeful
  • Be Respectful – treat others the way you want to be treated
  • Be Responsible – be a worker someone wants to employ
  • Be Upbeat – positive – don’t bad mouth previous employer
  • Be Diligent
  • Be Connected
  • Be Receptive
  • Be Prepared (Get good at interviewing)