The Ask: A Management Tool to Expedite Tasks

Project Manager's AskFrom various engagements, consultants get to see the best practices of top organizations worldwide. A good tool or technique usually becomes part of the consultant’s repertoire of best practices.

In the last few months, I have learned the concept of “the ask”. In a project, you need to have a clear understanding of the “project sponsor’s ask”. What is it that s/he is asking you to deliver?

When delegating tasks to team members, be explicit on what you are “asking” them to do. Do you want them to review the documents and provide feedback, or do you want them to edit and finalize the documents?

Instead of simply forwarding an e-mail with an FYI tell them what to do with it—“no action is needed” or “add a calendar reminder”.

A clear “ask” can expedite the completion of tasks.

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Make It Easy For Others To Work With You

Easy To Work WithMy old car needed a paint job on certain rusty spots. I’m hoping to get a few more years from it for my teenager. I stopped by at the auto shop, got an estimate and then they took in my car.

I spoke briefly with my diving instructor to arrange for a weekend dive. I e-mailed her the next day and she took care of everything. The common thread with these scenarios is obvious. Do you think I’ll do business with them again? Absolutely!

So, in the office, make it easy for others to work with you. Reply to e-mails and voicemails quickly. Offer solutions instead of hesitations. If you disagree with something, honestly share the reasons to your disagreement. Life is way too short and precious to waste on petty politics and to be a pain in the posterior.

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No-Cost Team Building Activities from Scouting

Project Leadership, Team Work, Communication and CreativityTough economic times dictate that we cut costs. Here are three no-cost team building activities that I learned from Scouting.

Ask the team to form a circle while holding a rope blindfolded. Challenge them to form a square. Remove the blindfolds to check if they were successful.

Lay out obstacles on the floor. Blindfold one team member. The entire team shouts out commands to help the blindfolded team member navigate to another side.

With a soup can in the middle, lay a rope on the floor in a shape of a large circle. Give the team ropes that are longer than the diameter of the circle. Challenge them to get the can out without going inside the circle.

Debrief after each activity. Ask them to share what they learned about leadership, communication, team work and creativity.

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Cut Costs by Blending Team Building and Training

Project Management TrainingJust because your company is cutting costs does not mean that you should cut down on team building and training activities as well. We could all use an occasional low-cost team building activity to lift the team’s spirits—and have the team polish their communication, persuasion and negotiation skills in the process.

Divide your team into groups and have them negotiate something—a mobile phone contract, flat screen television, letterhead printing and so on. Each group must negotiate for the same product personally and using one other communication medium (e-mail only, phone only, Twitter only, online chat only, etc.). The first group to negotiate the lowest price wins.

Have each group come up with a strategy and then execute it. Schedule a debriefing session to capture what they have learned and which techniques they can use at work immediately.

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