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Episode 476: How to Successfully LEAD Hybrid and Remote Projects (Free)

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Projects are done by people, and we project managers are responsible to ensure that everyone on the team stays motivated. How do you do that when half of your team works from home (with a barking dog in the background), some sit next to you at their desks, and the rest are in various branch offices around the world? Welcome to the world of managing hybrid and remote projects.

Let's acknowledge, that good project management has always been about building relationships, which can be difficult in these type of remote work situations. However, being a proactive project manager and opening up communication with the team can be the basis to establishing relationships remotely.

Join Dave Garrett (Chief Strategy & Growth Officer) and Cornelius Fichtner as they discuss the five main challenges of remote project work, what to do about them, and how "power skills" can help.

Note that the word "LEAD" is in all caps in the title of this episode. This is because when Dave and Cornelius originally discussed the content and structure of this episode it was all about "managing" projects. But once the interview was done and recorded, it became clear that what they really talked about was leadership. Hence... "How to Successfully Manage Hybrid and Remote Projects" became "How to Successfully LEAD Hybrid and Remote Projects".

This episode was recorded live and, as usual, we got some insightful questions and comments from the audience!

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Video Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode, we look at how to manage hybrid and remote projects.

Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is the live stream for Episode #476. I am Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you very much for joining me today.

Yes! It is 476, not 474 like I almost said. For those of you who are accessing this episode recorded, not live, please remember that this is a video episode. So if you’re only getting the audio, then please do look for the “Play video episode” link in your podcast app or visit www.pm-podcast.com.

Video Presentation

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Here is our agenda. We want to talk about managing hybrid and remote projects today with Dave Garrett. And let’s bring in Dave here. Here we are. Hello, Dave!

Dave Garrett: Hi, Cornelius!

Cornelius Fichtner: Next to each other. Nice to see you again. It has been a while.

Dave Garrett: Oh yes. Wonderful to be here. Wonderful to be here. 476 episodes, my God, what an accomplishment.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! I didn’t expect it would end up that much. But I had an inkling because my first episode, I didn’t just call it episode one. I called it episode 001. So I had some answer like that. So the numbering still works there. Yeah!

So our agenda here today, we want to start out by looking, give you a quick preview and talk about what you will kind of expect to get out of this. We want to talk about five challenges and also power skills are going to be mixed into that all the time a little bit. But also in the end when it comes to managing hybrid and remote projects, who is responsible. And of course, we’ll close everything out with quick takeaways.

But before we get started, for those of you who don’t know Dave, He is the Chief Strategy and Growth officer for PMI at www.pmi.org, and Dave crafts and drives the execution of the PMI strategy and his job is to create clear growth paths. He works across the organization to define, test, and deliver. As they say on PMI’s website: New products that matter. To deliver a dramatic increase in value to our customers. He is also in charge with assisting PMI to build teams that are aligned and integrated seamlessly across the organization. I want to get back to that maybe just a moment.

Dave joined PMI in 2014. That is when PMI purchased www.projectmanagement.com and he also worked on a book called Project Pain Reliever, adjusting time handbook for anyone managing projects. It’s available on Amazon. He is a graduate from the American University in Washington DC with a Master’s of Science in Management Information Systems.

And for my first question to you, Dave, I want to go back to that one sentence in your bio where it says, and I quote here again: “He is charged with assisting PMI to build teams that are aligned and integrated seamlessly across the organization.” Is that the reason how this got started, because you’re working with those teams that you were starting to think about remote teams and remote work?

Dave Garrett: That was part of it, absolutely. And we’ve gone through quite a transformation at PMI, and there has been a lot of integration, a lot of changes in a way that we work internally. And as the worlds change, PMI has changed as well. So, we’ve had a lot of internal talk, internal evolving of the ways that we work all the time. So, that’s part of it.

And another part is I also run thought leadership as part of my, under my umbrella of strategy and growth. And we talk a lot to our various stakeholders about these topics, whether it’s due to Global Executive Council, or directly to our members. So, we gather all the information. We try to disseminate some of that back to our stakeholders as well, just trying to be helpful there in this time of the never normal, if you will.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, thank you! Before we get going and look at what people can expect, if anybody has a question, if you’re joining us live here, please don’t forget, we have a chat. Please put your question or your comment into the chat, and I’ll bring it up. If you have your own challenges for managing remote work, hybrid projects, or if you have a good solution, please feel free to type that in as well.

So, to get us started, Dave, what can people expect to takeaway today from our conversation? What will they walk away with?

Dave Garrett: It’s interesting, Cornelius, there’s so many point solutions out there when you look across of the new ways of working --- remote work, hybrid work, how do I do this. Many of the how-to-use are they feel very one-size-fits-all. When we’re all sort of sitting in a situation where that’s really not the case. We’re all a little bit different. We’re all in the same boat in one sense, but in another sense, every situation is unique. In the same way that we’ve always told people you manage each person individually depending on the context, the type of person they are, how they need to be managed. You need to manage remote work in the same way.

So, what I’d like to do is offer two basic concepts I think that can be applied across all the questions that you are asking yourself. We think a lot about two things when we think about remote work. We think about visibility and we think about connectedness. Those two things. So, visibility of the work, visibility of the people in an appropriate way, and then connectedness, how connected are you to the work and how connected are you to the people.And I think if you can ask those two questions in a little bit, I’ll go down a little bit, show a few more layers of depth there. But if you think about those things deeply in terms of everything you do with regard to remote or hybrid work, it’s a very helpful construct because it allows you to find your own solution in the right way that is meaningful for you.

So, I’ll say a couple of things about visibility and connectedness. I think visibility has always been sort of a central tenet of agility, making work visibly, think about Kanban boards. You think about all the reporting that goes away when you share a perspective on the work. You know, the reporting doesn’t have to be generating a bunch of additional documents for management. Management understands what you’re doing by looking at the same board that you’re looking at and you can use that as a communication tool, a reference point to eliminate a lot of meetings and that’s super important in this Zoom world that we live in today, you know. Trying to eliminate as many meetings as we can that things that are wasteful.

And then visibility of people is very, very important. We don’t want to wear people out. In this new environment, there’s an advantage to the fact that I can reach out and call you over whatever medium, messaging platform where I can text you or I can email you. There’s various forms of communication and appropriately used, it makes everyone accessible, not just visible, but accessible at the right time. That’s something to be managed. But you know, it’s something to be utilized as well. The trick there is to really clarify when each person is available for what medium so they can do their best work. So that’s a little bit about visibility.

Connection is actually even more important to me. It’s something that we’ve been talking a lot about internally. We’ve been working with a Harvard professor by the name of James Cain. And he studies connectedness very, very deeply. He talks about three things that make you feel more connected to people or work great. One of them is: Does this make me feel safe? These questions you should ask yourself around connectedness that indicate whether you are or not. ”Does this make me feel safe?” is one. “Does this make my life better?” is two. And, “Does this make my life easier?” is three.

And if you think about all your connections to people and think about those three things --- safer, better, easier --- you think about how connected you feel to that person, it’s often based on those three things. And you think about the work that you do and how connected you are to that work, how meaningful it is to you, those three things really matter. Do I feel safer? Do I feel like my life is better? Do I feel like my life is easier now? Those things are really, really important. I think they’re even more important in a remote environment because we’re all searching a little bit for that psychological safety that we’re all discussing in various forms, right? We’re looking for ways to make our lives a little bit easier because it’s hard now in a lot of ways, and just better. Who isn’t looking for better? So, those are really important just as framing questions the idea of visibility and connectedness, and looking at them in those ways I think is really helpful to defining your own solutions.

Cornelius Fichtner: You know when we originally talked about doing this interview, we said, we’re going to talk about remote work and hybrid projects and all of that, and I did not expect that to be your response to my first question, to tell you the truth, visibility, connectedness is probably something that we don’t think about enough. Everybody says, you know, this is the new world; this is the new now, and everybody works from home. Well, to tell you the truth, my company has been like that since we founded it in 2007. Everybody works from home. To us, this is the old new, this is the old normal. But I don’t think that even in our company we thought about connectedness, we thought about visibility. How do make this happen? Before this, it was kind of occasionally, we brought people in. We had a gathering of the group in a single city. But during the pandemic that went out the window. Hopefully, we can pick this up again.

PMI is pretty much the same. You have a global team that needs to be visible to each other, that needs to be connected to each other. Is this how the five challenges and let me bring me up my next slide here because we’re now slowly moving into the five challenges here, and I’ll show them in just a moment. Is this how these five challenges got identified? Is it based on PMI’s learnings, PMI’s way of doing work?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Power Skills, Remote Work

  • Last updated on .
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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