The Receiving End of Criticism

By Susan de la Vergne
Leadership gurus and guidebooks dispense a lot of advice about how to deliver feedback to employees, especially when “feedback” really means criticism. But they rarely say much about how to receive criticism. That’s because, while delivering criticism is hard, receiving it is harder.

Rating Engineers – A Tool

By Gary Hinkle
Engineering managers often ask me how they should “rate” engineers. Recently, I developed a specific tool to assess overall engineering competency. The tool can be used by both the managers doing the rating as well as the engineers being rated. Even if your company has its own rating system, this assessment tool can supplement your system as a general assessment for just about any engineering job.

Why the PMP Credential (Project Management Professional) Isn’t Enough

By Steve Wetterling
Proponents (including me) of project management methods and practices extol this invention as the best way to do all work that falls in the category of “new stuff.” When project teams skillfully develop a charter, scope and limits statements, work breakdown structures, schedules, budgets, risk analyses, etc.—and hold to them—they’re far more likely to succeed than projects teams that do not.

When Realistic Estimates and Aggressive Goals Collide

By Gary Hinkle
I’d be surprised if anyone reading this hasn’t witnessed this problem: estimates from the experts doing the work don’t align with management’s expectations. Why? Because management, committed to ambitious business goals, has dictated an unachievable schedule. Or they’ve made premature commitments to customers. The experts’ estimates are often realistic, but the reality isn’t acceptable to management.

“I Work Better Under Pressure!” (Seriously?)

By Susan de la Vergne
If you’re reading this, I bet you’ve said it: “I work better under pressure!” You mean, then, that you (1) consistently do your best work when you have no time to double-check or review it; (2) always reach your creative peak when the clock is racing behind you; and (3) never fail to turn out your best when you stay late and you’re tired.

You Can’t Communicate If You’re Talking

By Susan de la Vergne
In the 1960’s, the brilliant and sarcastic mathematician-turned-comedian, Tom Lehrer, once went off on a short tirade about interpersonal communication. Yes, it was as hot a topic 45 years ago as it is now. In his rant Mr. Lehrer observed, “One problem that recurs more and more frequently these days in books and plays and movies is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love—husbands and wives who can’t communicate, children who can’t communicate with their parents, and so on.”

Never Postpone the Chicken Test!

By Steve Wetterling
When I manage projects, and when I teach project management, I know it’s important to understand project risk and to evaluate, plan for and mitigate risk. When I’m teaching, sometimes a class participant stares back at me in puzzlement when we get to discussing project risk. “What’s so risky about doing a project?” The Chicken Test helps them understand.

Mediocre to Masterful: Three Tips for Meeting Leaders

By Susan de la Vergne
My boss several years ago was a masterful meeting leader. Even when he wasn’t officially leading the meeting, he was good at it. What was his secret? He did his homework. He prepared. He had not only completed whatever assignment he had, but he’d also gauged the situation and participants beforehand.