Kathy is a senior project manager in the New York City metro area. She has worked in the financial industry for the last 7 years and has moved up in her responsibilities and career path. Recently, Kathy faced a challenge to make some adjustments in order to avoid reaching the burnout stage and other potential negative consequences on the family front.
Kathy reached out in her network and found a mentor whom she could trust and would provide a good sounding board. Linda has been a lifelong friend and she was excited to be there for Kathy. They headed to a cozy coffee shop in Manhattan and started the first round of chats.
During this first get-together, Linda wanted to get a feel for the amount of balancing that Kathy had to juggle. Kathy shared highlights of her bank responsibility, the ongoing political drama that she had to deal with, and the recent struggle to keep her projects and the business running in the face of difficult times. She also shared with Linda how her two beautiful kids had been taking all of her remaining time so she hardly had the time for her husband or friends. The commitments she made to volunteer work did not make life any easier, either. Linda focused on listening without adding any of her comments or ideas in this first session. It was very important to be there for Kathy and allow as much understanding of the context as possible.
(Lesson Learned: Don’t rush into solution mode - exercise the art of true listening.)
Now that the first session gave Linda a bit of background on the state of Kathy’s load, she was ready to tackle things and provide relevant mentoring. Both ladies have shared a passion for the discipline of project management and have been members of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) for years. Linda asked Kathy if she was willing to let project management be her anchor to achieve this needed balance. They conceptually discussed how the leadership and management aspects of this discipline could be the needed solution. Linda reminded Kathy how she had helped Linda prepare for her wedding by using project management techniques and how that resulted in a smooth experience. Kathy remembered those planning days and started to relax, realizing that she might be on her way to find a possible solution to her lack of balance.
(Lesson Learned: Use powerful joint stories as the anchor for creating buy-in.)
It was time to get serious. Linda wanted to start with getting Kathy to believe in two triggers that she could always come back to for achieving balance: thankfulness and crucial communications. Linda explained the first trigger, thankfulness, as the must-have in life. She reminded Kathy of the many friends they have in common who had either professionally or personally suffered due to their lack of appreciation. They had not used the power of thankfulness to find inner peace and to better connect with others. Missing this critical ingredient can lead to a vicious circle that is hard to get out of.
The second trigger, crucial communications, was Linda’s favorite way to work closely with all her life’s stakeholders and ensure that she was aligning expectations and creating a sense of transparency. The commitment that Linda was asking for was to have a frequent set of events where professional and personal parties could really talk about the key issues at hand, and stop what could be viewed as denial or a passive aggressive behavior.
Kathy suggested that she would use a priorities dashboard and Linda laughed and said a LPD (Life Priorities Dashboard).
Even though a fancy term, it made full sense to both women. Life is too short to be lived without a sense of control or a satisfaction of accomplishments and priorities. The last thing the two women talked about was the need for agility, knowing that inputs and stakeholders change. Kathy was starting to feel energized and was ready to tackle her professional and personal leadership responsibilities through a new set of lenses.
(Lesson Learned: Create a roadmap for your priorities, empower yourself with the right triggers, and stay flexible.)
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