HERMAN THE PM’S WOE: Has Email become RADIO?

timer.gifRead this week’s blogs and SAVE at least 3 project days a year of time wasted:
This week’s blogs help you change the way people use and waste your time. Let’s share the truth about WHAT and WHO is really killing you.   Good news:  it is ALL small stuff.  This week’s focus is project housekeeping:   Email, teleconferencing, and poorly conceived or run meetings.  (Share your horrors, short-cuts, and strategies as well).For over 25 years, I have been the midwife to projects. Last week, working on a very complex and political project, I tried to help HERMAN the cool PM who was going over the edge.

“My big question to you Michele is, WHERE does the time REALLY go??????  What is slipping my “inner schedule” and killing my “inner enthusiasm”?  Why do I feel like I am losing weeks, not just days? ”  
 It was email.  It cost Herman two to three hours a day that was NOT in the schedule.  People around Herman at the water cooler were sharing numbers like it was confession:   “I have 500 to read, I have 100 I misplaced I ‘m tracking: I lied about 10 to buy time: ”         Herman even had done a humorous new resume– Experienced PM, certified, dignified, mummified by communication, looking for a challenging project with no email contact. Success guaranteed!  


Emails are becoming radio shows!    Email started out as a tool for In/Out box messages, and now it is a radio show boomed to all. Even with all the talk about being brief, and not sending one at all, people still think they have to send missiles that distract, and many emails do not inform, but incite riots.    They do create a level of anxiety about “why am I getting this”,who else saw this poorly written email that makes us look like idiots”? Herman tells me after our analysis,Virtually 40% of emails I get are just nice but not necessary”.  For some people, this is their life journal they wish to share with everyone.  
Yes, it is an important, time saving contact tool, but I know of at least 6 cases where people QUIT just because of email. And their skills were hard to replace.
The REALLY ANNOYING ONES are sent just as a MEMORY JOGGER for someone else. Herman shares oneHey, just wondering. I am about to test: and thought you might have something you want to add to what we discussed last week.”  They use my brain to remind themselves of something THEY have to do.  If I wanted to add something, I would have. Whoops, better get my How to Say It Book off the shelf.

AND, the worst are those that ask are that “okay with you: ” when we already agreed .  I find myself wondering if they are really trying to get out of what they agreed to do.        What if I don’t respond in time. Do they wait????”

 

 Then, there’s Managers above. If you brand and launch your project well from the start, they know NOT to bother you with micromanaging trivia.  A favorite:” let’s meet and see how you are doing: ”  Hello!  You have a schedule with updates. What you really want to know is what do I do with any time I have left, that you then waste!    

Steps to get at least six minutes back so you CAN work on that project.
 
1) Get rid of “Hams” and spam. Hams are people who use email like radio shows, telling you more than want or need to know, and generating workload NOT on the schedule. Use more face to face reassurances.    
2) If a remote person, and I mean offsite, not introverted, talk about this for a few minutes  in a conference call, and DO NOT write an email to confirm it.
3) Set down some NEW email rules. Use more bullets and ask everything in one email not in one per hour. We know what we need from each other.  “Herman, these are my questions this week”:  Wanna go to lunch, Did we get good test results, Will we be handing this off. Another PM gave me feedback that as CRAZY as this seemed,

the five worst offenders went wonderfully silent all week, and  that PM got some work done.  
 
Next stops:  Tuesday: Branding the project can save you time!
                     Wednesday: Conference calls and phone meetings
                     Thurdays: Meetings with your boss
                      Friday:  Meetings with yourself!
 
 Note:  Herman is a mythical representation of a real PM with nervous tick
Posted on behalf of Michele Jackman, PM Coach, helping lots of ticked off people.

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