In recent years, there has been a definite trend towards “dressing down” in the corporate world, and not only on Casual Friday. It’s becoming rare these days to see men in suits and ties, and women in smart business suits; and many would applaud that, especially given South Africa’s climate. But, while there’s nothing wrong with dressing more comfortably; there’s also no harm in taking stock every now and then of whether you are taking it too far and damaging your own brand by doing so.
The old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” springs to mind when one sees how some translate “casual” into work attire. Call me old fashioned, but holey jeans, flip flops and bare midriffs (no matter how toned) have no place in the business world.
Each of us has a personal brand and how we dress when we go to work is the personification of that brand. Your clothes, shoes, grooming and accessories tell your employer, colleagues and clients much about you and may even affect their perception of your skills and qualities.
A cursory Google search provides lots of evidence from researchers as to how you dress can actually affect your performance and even your mood.
According to the Reader’s Digest (quoting a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology), dressing in clothing that is associated with intelligence, like doctor’s coats or pilot’s uniforms, may not only make you look smarter but may actually make you act smarter too. Researchers gave doctor’s lab coats to subjects (none of whom were doctors) and then asked them to perform a series of complex tasks. Those in white coats made significantly fewer mistakes than the people in their street clothes. The scientists then repeated the experiment but this time gave lab coats to all the participants. However, they told half the people they were doctor’s coats while the other half were told they were paint smocks. Again, the people in the “doctor’s coats” performed better on the tests, which shows that it’s not just what you wear but also what you think of what you wear that matters.
As a contractor, you are constantly reselling yourself to clients. Make the investment in yourself and take the time to think about your image and what you are telling your clients and colleagues about yourself by the way you dress.
© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting. | Image created by Freepik.com.
In recent years, there has been a definite trend away from closed offices to open plan workspaces, even when it comes to senior management. Hot desking is another newish phenomenon, which takes the open plan concept to the next level and involves allocating desks to workers as and when they are required, or on a rota system, instead of giving each worker their own desk. In the project management world, there are very obvious advantages to having the entire team up close and personal but there are some golden rules that should be followed to ensure that harmony prevails.
There are few things more irritating than trying to work and having co-workers laughing and chatting loudly in the cubicle next door. Keep it down, whether you are on the phone or having a discussion with a colleague; respect your co-workers and, if necessary, take the discussion out of the common area.
Treat your co-workers’ desks as if they were their private offices – don’t borrow their stationery without asking, don’t thumb through their paperwork, don’t help yourself to their snacks and don’t join in their conversations uninvited.
If you are sick, work from home instead of bringing your germs into the office – in open plan spaces there’s no getting away from a coughing, spluttering colleague!
Consider your colleagues’ noses...not everyone will enjoy your strong new cologne or fish and chip lunch as much as you do! Avoid wearing strong smelling perfume and colognes (it could even trigger some colleagues’ allergies); and take your food to the designated eating area – it’s better for you to take short breaks in any event.
Keep your workspace tidy, a messy eyesore will affect the entire team’s mojo; and, if you are hot desking, be sure to leave the desk as you found it. Even if you subscribe to the maxim that a messy desk is a sign of genius, at least tidy your desk before you leave for the day.
Adjust your mobile phone alerts – the entire team doesn’t need to know every time you get a message.
Working in close quarters can build team spirit, foster creativity and enable easy communication but it can also cause a great deal of friction. Get the most out of your open plan space by being a good “neighbour”; learning to read co-workers’ body language (knowing when to brainstorm and when to retreat) and investing in some ear plugs and stream your favourite music if you are easily distracted.
© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting.
© Image created by Freepik.com
As part of their risk management responsibilities, project managers (PMs) need to keep abreast of legislation that applies to the company and the industry that it operates in. This is becoming an increasingly challenging prospect, particularly in the financial services sector, which has faced an onslaught of new legislation and compliance regulations in recent years. But, daunting as it may seem, it is vital that PMs keep up to date with, at the very least, key legislation that applies to their project.
It falls to the PM to brief the project team on the legislative and compliance issues that impact on the project and to monitor that no breaches occur either during the execution of the project or once it comes online. And it’s not only external regulations that must be complied with. The project rules must at all times comply with the company’s IT security plan, which itself may be a shifting target, necessitating regular review to ensure compliance.
The PM should protect him or herself by regularly communicating with the team about internal and external regulations and governance requirements. Simply put, if required, you may need to prove due diligence in terms of having disseminated the relevant information. This includes ensuring that the team has been exposed to the relevant company policies on a variety of potentially harmful issues like social media, data security and sexual harassment, to name but a few.
One very important piece of legislation that PMs must keep abreast of (and keep the project team aware of) is the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in terms of which all South African institutions must behave responsibility when collecting, processing, storing and sharing personal information.
The PM who has proactively and regularly touched on a wide variety of external and internal regulations and compliance requirements will be in a good position to put up a convincing defence should transgressions occur.
© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting.
Image designed by Freepik.com
As a McManus Associate, you will move from project to project, company to company. Essentially, you’re an “inside outsider”. This gives you a unique insight and provides you with experience that your clients value.
Smart consulting PMs will recognise the advantages, avoid the pitfalls, and maximize the opportunities inherent in being an inside outsider.
Consultants are often perceived, by their internal peers, to be overpaid but, with a little insight and effort, you can get them on your side as they come to realise that you bring something to the table that only someone from outside the company can.
As a consulting PM you will have worked in a number of other organisations, often in the same market as the one you are currently in. This means that you will have worked on similar projects, in similar environments, and have the advantage of knowing what worked, what didn’t work and why.
One of the double-edged swords of being a consultant is that you are not privy to internal politics. On one hand, you are unhampered by allegiance to a particular individual or group; but on the other, there is the danger of blundering into a situation because you are not aware of the sensitivities. Internal politics can be a minefield to navigate but help can come from identifying the relevant influencers and learning from them. A word of advice though: the “influencers” are not only the obvious individuals – having a competent secretary on your side can be invaluable!
Adjusting to different organisations’ project management methodologies and approaches is always a challenge for consultants. Even when the framework is the same, each organisation has its own interpretation. MD of McManus Consulting, Tony McManus, recommends a “flexible but circumspect approach”.
“As a consultant, you can’t be dogmatic and you need to be flexible and accommodating, however, this can never be at the expense of sacrificing best practice. Simply put, if there is a risk you are obliged to point it out, regardless of how unpopular such an action will be,” says Tony.
From the company’s point of view, one of the biggest benefits of having a consulting PM on the team is the consultant’s vested interest in getting the project done on time and in budget. A failed project, or one that is running over time and budget, is far more career limiting for a consultant – whose last project is a defining benchmark – than it is for an employee.
Consultants inevitably have a fresher and objective view of the company and the project. This is especially true when it comes to employees who have been with the company for many years and can no longer see the wood for the trees. But it is those same old timers who can be the hardest to win over. As a consultant, you will be a people manager as much as a project manager. Hone your people skills, sell yourself within the company and try, wherever you can, to foster good team spirit.
It doesn’t matter what field you are in, the most successful people are those that grow and develop throughout their lives. The world around us is changing at an alarming rate, not only in terms of technology but also how people view and react to the world around them.
Lifelong learning is more than a catchy phrase; it’s a necessity if you want to stay relevant in the workplace. There is no doubt that one of the best investments you can make is to expand your mind. And, nowadays, despite the time constraints that we face in our crazy 24/7 online world, it’s never been easier to grow and learn.
Professional development programmes, webinars, podcasts, books and online courses are just some of the ways that you can tap into the rich vein of lifelong learning.
It’s no coincidence that some of the most successful people in the world are also the most prolific readers and (according to Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals), they read for self-improvement, education, and success, rather than entertainment.
Elon Musk famously said (when asked how he learned to build rockets): “I read books”. Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year; and Mark Cuban reads for three hours a day.
Brian Tracy, well-known US sales trainer, talks about three kinds of lifelong learning:
But perhaps the most compelling advocate of lifelong learning was Henry Ford: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
No matter how busy (or smart) you are, make the time to expand your mind…you are worth it!
We recently engaged Thomas international to administer our on-the-job personality assessments. Below is a description of what the PPA brings to our Value Chain.
Info taken from the Thomas International Website:
In just 8 minutes, the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) psychometric assessment will provide an accurate insight into how people behave at work, answering questions such as: what are their strengths and limitations? How do they communicate? Are they self starters? What motivates them?
Type: Ipsative psychometric assessment
Time: ±8 minutesThomas' behavioural assessment PPA provides an accurate insight into how people behave at work, giving you a greater level of certainty when recruiting.
Thomas PPA takes only 8 minutes to complete. You are then provided with an initial profile detailing a person’s strengths and limitations, their communication style, their value to the business, what motivates them, their basic fears and how they behave under pressure.
Thomas M. HendricksonYear of construction: 1958Background and theory:In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dr. Thomas Hendrickson developed William Moulton Marston’s DISC theory to produce the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) for the work place.
Marston's original theory stated that actions based upon emotions are an individual's biosocial response to supportive or hostile social environments. These actions determine how the individual interacts with the environment. It was theorised that the way in which the individual interacts with the environment takes four basic directions: tendencies to dominate, influence, submit and comply. Marston published his book 'Emotions of Normal People' in 1928, which described his theory of human consciousness in comprehensive detail.
The PPA determines whether individuals see themselves as responding to workplace situations that they perceive to be favourable or challenging, and reveals whether their response patterns are active or passive; thus classifying the individual's behavioural preferences in terms of four domains: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.
Reliability and validity:
The Thomas PPA has been subject to rigorous scientific testing to determine its reliability and validity as a psychological assessment. The PPA is registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS) after it was audited against the technical criteria established by the European Standing Committee on Tests and Testing, part of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations.
Thomas International conducts on-going psychometric research with the PPA in partnership with the Psychometrics Centre at Cambridge University. http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/.
Look around the next time you’re out in public and take note of the number of people glued to their phones or tablets. More than 100 million users log into Twitter each day; Facebook has more than 1.94 billion active users each month; LinkedIn has nearly 500 million members; and Instagram has some 700 million monthly active users. Love it or hate it, social media has taken over the world and it seems that it's here to stay.
While social media can be uplifting, informative and inclusive; it can also destroy lives and careers. A growing number of individuals have been hauled to court for their social media posts, faced fines, and even lost their jobs. It's also not uncommon to see companies being called out and vilified, by association, when one of their employees transgresses.
The social media phenomenon is so pervasive (and so potentially dangerous in terms of reputational damage) that most companies have developed comprehensive social media policies, which staff are required to conform to. While consultants are not confined to a specific company's policy, some common sense and social media savvy should be practiced by anyone when using social media.
And, if you still doubt the power of social media, consider this: a growing number of companies and recruitment agents are checking the social media accounts of job applicants before making appointments.
Here are some simple rules to keep you out of hot water on social media:
Social media can be a lot of fun. It will allow you to connect with amazing people that you won't ever meet in real life; and others that you'd never want to meet. Enjoy the experience but don't lose sight of the perils.
When in doubt, the Socrates test is a useful measure: is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary?
Being an outsourced Project Manager means that you are going to be interviewed for your next assignment again, and again, and again. And, as the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression; so here are 10 ways to make sure that you get the assignments you want.
Prepare for the interview
Find out as much as you can about the company, its culture and the assignment beforehand. That way you will be able to engage the interviewer more meaningfully, give informed answers and ask the right questions.
Consider the type of company by whom you are being interviewed when deciding what to wear and, ideally, do some homework on their dress code. But, even if your interview falls on casual Friday, resist the temptation to pitch up in your casual gear! For gents, the rule of thumb is to wear a tie to the first meeting.
Brush up on your non-verbal messages
What you do during the interview can influence the interviewer’s opinion of you almost as much as what you say. So be sure to greet with a firm handshake, sit up straight and don’t fidget or sit with your arms crossed. Make eye contact when speaking and don’t forget to smile – a sincere smile says that you are friendly, relaxed and confident.
Practice makes perfect
Rehearse answers to the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked; where possible, weaving details of your skills and capabilities into your answers.
Arrive 10 minutes early
Allow plenty of time to get to the interview, taking into consideration traffic, roadworks or any other factors that could delay you. You definitely don’t want to arrive late or flustered. Consider using an app like Waze (the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app) to make sure you arrive on time.
Clean up your Facebook and Twitter accounts
These days, 91% of employers search the social media pages of prospective employees. If you think you’ve transgressed, use Social Sweepster, an app that detects any past inappropriate photos and profane content.
Time it right
According to jobs and recruiting site, Glassdoor, the best time and day to be interviewed is 10:30 on a Tuesday! That way you avoid employees gearing up for the week (Monday) or winding down (Friday). They also recommend avoiding the first or last slots of the day, as well as the slot just before lunch (the interviewer may be hungry and crabby) or straight after lunch (the interviewer may be sleepy).
Don’t overshare or talk too much
Even if the interviewer asks about your kids, cats, hobbies, or divorce...resist the temptation to go off on a tangent. Listen carefully to the questions and respond appropriately, giving just the right amount of detail in your answer.
Be ready to sell yourself
The interviewer essentially wants to know if you can do the job, and if you’ll fit in with the team (and company culture). Make sure that everything you say and do during the interview conveys this. By all means sell yourself but be honest and upfront – there’s no point in promoting skills you don’t have.
Thank the interviewer
A quick email to thank the interviewer for seeing you may not necessarily secure you the assignment but it will give you an edge – few people are immune to good manners!
IT Project Management is a broad field, the range of activities and applications makes it incredibly hard for one PM to master every aspect of the Project Life-cycle, each project manager will have clear strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their management style.
These weaknesses are not a bad thing, and if you can identify a weakness you can improve your knowledge or work towards making it a strength. That is where our PM Assessments come in.
Administered by our training partner PMIdeas, we use these assessments to peg each associates specific strengths, and the results can be used as a tool to plan future personal development goals that each of our Project Managers can work towards.
The PM Assessments are based on the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBoK) which is considered the world standard in Project Management and assesses each candidates knowledge of the 10 Knowledge areas contained in the PMBoK:
The ten knowledge areas, each of which contains some or all of the project management processes, are:
How do these assessments work?
Once an associate has met with us we will arrange for them to receive a link to their PM Assessment, this assessment is a series of multiple choice and free form questions, relating to specific areas of the PMBoK. Results are graded in the following form for each question:
The candidate understands this concept
The candidate understands the concept but did not explain it as it appears in the PMBoK
Not yet competent:
We are unable to determine if the candidate has fully grasped this concept.
Once completed, each candidate receives a score out of 496, the closer they manage to get to this score the more in line with the principals of the PMBoK they are. Based on their scores each candidate can then choose to expand their knowledge in areas they are weakest or focus on their strengths and work in their key area of knowledge.
Culture fit is a vital, yet often overlooked part of any successful team. When adding people to an existing team or starting a new endeavour, finding people that will work well together, and that compliment each others strengths or weaknesses, can mean the difference between success or failure.
With this important issue in mind, we partenered with PMIdeas take the guess work out of selecting the right project resource. Using the world recognised DiSC analysis to identify individual personality profiles, we can take the guess work out of selecting the right personality for the job.
A brief overview of the DiSC assessment:
DISC is a behaviour assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Marston, it was developed into a behavioural assessment tool by Industrial Psychologist Walter Clark. The assessment focuses on four key behavioural traits:
This online assessment is completed by each new candidate for free. We encourage them to hold onto their results and use them as part of their personal development planning. Weather they work fos us or our clients, or go on to work somewhere else, they have these results
IT is not a mere personality assessment, rather it is an assessment of an individuals behaviour in certain circumstances. Our DiSC is centred on behaviour in the work place, giving us a window into how a candidate might react or behave depending on the environment we place them in.
There are 15 Classical Profile Patterns, each portraying the behaviour of people with a specific blend of the four dimensions.