’Tis the season for one more thing – one more cookie, one more gathering, one more decoration, gift, or craft.
It’s tough being human. We have a lot of wants to manage in a mere 24 hours. In a season of lots of wants, we get to navigate our priorities to help us make decisions. How do we do it?
When times and projects are rough, we have some advice: grab chocolate and a project manager.
It’s likely not surprising to you that we would recommend a project manager. The chocolate might be a bigger mystery. But eating chocolate (or another favorite treat) is one of the many ways leaders can ground themselves amid stress.
In recognition of this, here are three ways you can mitigate panic and stress when projects go awry. The following is good counsel for all of us. It’s an especially busy time for Anita and me. We hear it’s the same for our clients, trusted vendors and friends. While I write this for you, the advice is really for me.
All it takes are five simple ingredients to add creamy flavor to fried potatoes and punch to baked salmon. Those same five ingredients can serve as a base for a scrummy potato salad and the unsung heroes of a BLT sandwich.
When you combine garlic, mustard, egg, oil and lemon, you get an unforgettable garlicky mayonnaise, also known as aioli. Those individual ingredients are certainly tasty, but they become magical when combined. By slowly adding oil while whipping the other ingredients, the liquids emulsify and create a custard-like spread. Yum!
Like mayo, the ingredients for a planning process are simple. Yet they form something new when combined. When blended, purpose, people, time, communication, and action become key ingredients to projects, events and collaborations we deem successful.
We know that projects take time and effort. We expect to spend hours on project timelines, project budgets, and project deliverables whether we’re planning an event, constructing a building, or installing public art.
At Reach Partners, we do this well. We are, after all, project managers.
That said, the term “project management” doesn’t completely describe our work.
Every project we do involves or affects people. After all, without their input and responses, our projects are meaningless. An event doesn’t happen without presenters, attendees, organizers, and vendors. Buildings aren’t constructed without engineers, architects, funders, and those who occupy its spaces.
And public art without an artist and viewers? Well . . .
Truth be told, project management is as much about people management and relationship building as it is about shuffling plans, timelines, and budgets. We spend a considerable amount of our time working with stakeholders and keeping them engaged in the work.
Like many of you, we’ve taken these last days of 2021 to plan for 2022. No, we don’t have a list of resolutions for the new year, but we do have some goals – and even a list of some dreams (fingers-double-crossed!).
As we look forward, we find it’s helpful to look back. We know from 20 years of experience and the uncertainty of the past two years that being nimble and reflective can lead us to a better future.
So, in that spirit, here are three posts from the past year that we think will inspire, or at least give you something to think about, as we move into the new one.
May you enjoy the holiday season!
This year, Reach Partners celebrates 20 years.
That’s countless hours of coordinating events, gathering people in conversation, helping work get done, communicating key messages, training volunteers, facilitating meetings, pushing and encouraging, staying within budget, outlining the scope, staying up late, waking up early, making mistakes, asking forgiveness, and making right the mistakes we made.
As we celebrate this milestone, we recognize that we are who we are largely because of the values that we uphold and practice. We are intentional about how we do our work and who we do it with. This has led us to the best partners a business could ask for and we are immensely grateful for that.
So, in honor of our anniversary, we want to reflect on a few moments from the past two decades that speak to our values. Of course, there are so many more moments than we have space for, but here is a sampling:
As project managers, Anita and I have a reputation for being super organized.
Once upon a time a friend even introduced me as “super organized, down to the minute.” The way she said it made it seem as though it was my super power, a skill set I was granted at birth and now sprinkled upon every project I managed.
I’m not going to lie, those words certainly warmed my project-manager heart. But, something gets lost when we look at “being organized” as a skill in and of itself. Because here’s the deal: I’m only super organized because I communicate clearly or at least try to. Being organized means nothing if one can’t communicate what’s needed and what’s happening to themselves and to someone else.
There is one thing I never want to experience on the day of an event I’m managing: unnecessary stress.
Of course, there are ALWAYS last-minute issues that come up (hi, global pandemic!), but I’d rather pace stress over the many weeks and months of a planning period and not have to make 25,000 decisions when people are standing around not knowing where to go, what to do, or even why they’re there.
This is one reason why Reach Partners establishes an event strategy document for every event or conference or workshop we manage.
My days are filled with communication distractions. Like many of you, I’m bombarded by messages via email, text, and phone. Even spoken conversations are often focused on a quick exchange of information before moving on to the next scheduled thing.
These experiences have motivated me to dig deeper for a better way of engaging with others: In a world full of noise, how do we invite meaningful conversations, the conversations that matter? And the follow-up question: Why are these types of conversations important? For human connection? For getting things done? For leading through social complexity?
I think the answers to the latter is yes, yes, and yes.
I often struggle to know whether to say “yes” or “no” to a new experience. Even armed with details and expectations, I never truly know whether something will turn into an opportunity or an obligation.
In addition, I value clarity and purpose. When expectations are vague, I hesitate.
And yet, sometimes ignoring the small voice in the back of my head that says “no” leads to valuable and meaningful connections. Sometimes my curiosity wins and I’m learning to pay attention.