Ms. Karen Russ was recognized as the 2015 ICS Project Manager of the Year for her outstanding support in managing the Infrastructure & Operations Project. Congratulations, Karen!

Thank you so much to the ICS Executives for the honor of being named ICS PM of the year! But I know I owe my success to my team and to the support I receive daily from management, the other ICS departments, and from our very talented ICS employees. Yes, good program management requires organizational skills, multi-tasking on a grand scale, production of quality deliverables, and a good memory to keep on top of it all! But I firmly believe it is how you interact with people (your team, your colleagues, and your customers) that will ultimately determine the success of a program.

As the recipient of this award, I was asked to share some lessons learned or keys to success from my many years of managing teams and IT projects. So, please bear with me as I list my personal “To Do’s” and Reminders that I try to use on a daily basis:

  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You don’t have to know how to do everything yourself; you just need to be able to bring the right people together, get the roadblocks out of their way, and then everything else good will follow.
  • Spend more of your day listening than speaking. That is the best way to learn what is most important to your customers and to your staff.
  • Motivate through encouragement, not from a position of power. Try to make individual work assignments as “win/win” as possible. No one likes every aspect of their job, but if you can match the work that needs to be done to at least some things that interest that employee, then everyone will benefit.
  • Stay humble. When someone is struggling to get something done, jump in and help. No task that you would ask someone else on your team to perform should be considered beneath you.
  • Be as flexible as you can be with your staff when individual work/life situations develop. Any kindness you can extend to them during their difficult times will be returned to you ten-fold.
  • Be considerate of everyone’s time. Your team’s time is even more important than your own, because they are the ones getting the actual work done. So be punctual and don’t expect others to stay late if you aren’t willing to do that yourself.
  • Always protect your team members’ and your company’s reputation. Do not ever single out an individual employee to take the heat with the customer for a mistake. The ultimate responsibility lands on the PM, and your customer and your team will lose trust in you if you let someone else take the blame. Behind the scenes you can make any internal corrections you need to make.
  • Be genuine. People know when you are attempting to be something you are not.
  • Try to learn something new every day and freely share your knowledge with others. Promoting a team culture that encourages mentoring and helping each-other out creates a work environment that people want to belong to.
  • Don’t make promises about things you can’t control. And if you do commit to doing something, make sure it happens!
  • Following up on assignments can be even more important than the initial tasking. Don’t assume that just because you requested it, someone is working on it and that they remember when it is due. Little reminders go a long way, as it is very easy for even the most conscientious people to get side-tracked or pulled off onto some other “hot” project.
  • Most people want to do a good job and don’t want to let you or the rest of the team down. If someone isn’t meeting your expectations, nine times out of ten it is because you either didn’t communicate well about what you want, or they don’t have the training or tools needed to do it. Try to identify what is causing the gap and do your best to help fix it. If you can’t fix it, try to place them in a role that is a better fit for them.
  • Treat each person with respect and let them maintain their dignity. Give your customers and your employees a graceful way “out” of bad situations. Always help them maintain their credibility with their peers and management and they will help you be successful.
  • If you have a rough day, try and re-set overnight and come back with a positive attitude the next day. Things almost always get better if you really want them to. Frustration is fleeting if you don’t let it overwhelm you.
  • Finally, be the manager that you would want to work for. An employee is assigned to work for you on their first day, but remember it is their choice every day after that if they want to keep working for you and your team.

These are the things I try to keep in mind every day, and I hope they can serve you as well. Many thanks again to my team who make everything possible, and I look forward to continuing to be an active participant in ICS’s exciting future. Thank you!

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