Project Management Advice: How not to be a pest!
Over the years, I have reached out to many people for project management advice. I also made mistakes a few times, making it difficult for them to engage and turn off.
Manager Tools is a podcast that I love about general management. Manager Tools had a great episode about “how to ask advice”. I’m adding my own points and riffing on it. I find it hard to disagree with these guys when it comes managing people. This topic resonated with my memory of times I asked for help from others. I can also see the points in the email I get (good and poor examples). The more you know how to ask for help, you’ll have greater success.
You are not owed anything by anyone
This is an important point to remember. You are more likely to receive a thoughtful reply if you show humility and gratitude for the other person’s expertise and time. Even if you are well-intentioned and have a genuine desire to get a response, email can come across as demanding. This will cause busy people to instantly be turned off and may ignore you or avoid your messages in the future.
Also, understand that not everyone has the time or ability to answer every email. It’s possible for them to get back to you if you don’t receive a response immediately. You should not imagine that they are sitting in front their email inbox, waiting for you to get back to them.
This is not a post to vent about my life. However, I want you to be clear so that you can get good results from me and anyone else who might be able to help you with project management.
However, I do not like it when people treat me as if I am their boss and I owe them a prompt response. There have been many occasions when I received an additional email within 24 hours from someone I do not know asking me “Why didn’t you reply to me yet?” These emails are not only annoying, but also make me feel like I am being nice and willing to help.
Accept the answer when you receive it. While you can ask clarification questions or follow-up questions, don’t be afraid to accept the advice. For a moment, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of the other person. Someone approaches you and asks you for project management advice. You give your opinion, and they basically tell you that they are satisfied with it.
Relationship building is a failure. You probably didn’t know jack squat.
Ask the question upfront
This is crucial. This is important. I don’t know how many times I had a whole email re-read because I didn’t know what the question was. Manager tools calls BLUF “bottom line up front”
Say Thank You!
Someone has taken their time away from activities that are beneficial to them or their organization and put it aside for you. 1) Be thankful, and then 2) express your gratitude for their amazing willingness to help!
I have always been amazed at the generosity of strangers, even those who are very busy. However, I didn’t always thank them. Yes, I did say the obligatory “thanks!” I always thank the recipient at the end of an email. But I mean writing at most one sentence about how you value their time and how you appreciate what they have done for you.
For a moment, I am back on my soapbox. I respond to many emails where I can spend up to 30 mins reading long emails, thinking dee