Project managers will benefit from focusing on the present

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

What is the best gift project managers can give themselves? An article on Inc.com ponders that very question.

The answer is simple: As leaders, managers must allow themselves to focus on the present, without being distracted by past mistakes or future goals.

This does not mean that project managers should completely ignore the past or the future. That would result in a team—and ultimately, a company—that cannot learn from experience and plan ahead. But there is a difference between acknowledging these lessons and letting them consume you, clouding your judgment.

"[P]lenty of leaders get so mired in past mistakes or focus obsessively prior performance that they miss opportunities to take critical new risks that their business needs," Inc.com contributor Carrie Kerpen wrote.

She offers some simple solutions.

First, managers should try to "listen without reacting." She advises them to spend some time in a meeting without saying a word, absorbing what others are saying instead. This practice should provide a clearer picture of what is happening within the organization.

Then Kerpen suggests that managers approach each problem by thinking about three things they can do that very day to improve the situation. This incremental approach may sound ineffective, but it represents the first steps to an all-encompassing solution.

You can hone your decision-making techniques with New Leaf's "Managing Risk & Making Decisions" program. Through our QPM™ series of estimating games, New Leaf lets you earn affordable and convenient PDUs for PMP® recertification. Ultimately, improving your skills will better prepare you for many of the decisions that Kerpen discusses.

"PMI," PMP," and "PMBOK" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

"QPM" is a registered mark of New Leaf Project Management. All rights reserved.

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