According to a web survey conducted last year by Right Management, only a third of American workers say they take a lunch break. The survey suggested that 65 percent of workers eat at their desks and don't take a break at all. I imagine that there are a lot of project teams buried in those statistics.
Over the weekend my wife and I spent some time in southern Utah exploring old ghost towns and enjoying some time together. Fortunately, she likes tooling around the back roads with me. We visited one of the most photographed ghost towns in the country just outside of Zion National Park, but the weather wasn't very good on Saturday and the dirt roads were like driving on marbles. It was very slick.
Yesterday, on our way home the weather was beautiful, so we decided to explore the southwestern route home to Salt Lake City. Neither of us had been that way before, so I looked at the GPS on my trusty iPhone and decided our route. It was a beautiful drive for the first several hours. We saw some scenery that we hadn't seen before and ultimately wound up in Beryl, UT, an old train stop—and the end of the paved road.
I have to admit that I come from a generation that convinced ourselves that we could demonstrate our dedication and work ethic by spending more time at the office or in the field working hard—and our extra work would be recognized and rewarded. Unfortunately, all that extra effort just became something to be expected and taken for granted by many employers. If I had a nickle for every extra hour I put into my career, I'd be a pretty wealthy man by now—or at the very least could have taken my wife on a nice trip to Hawaii. I don't think I'm alone.
I don't think there's any argument that too much overtime on a project is the sign of a project in trouble. What's more, no matter how incredible your personal stamina might be (all nighters used to be a piece of cake for me, now I'm pretty worthless for two or three days after), if every project you lead takes heroic efforts to be successfully completed, you will ultimately crash and burn. You and your team.
My friends and I will sometimes debate whether Superman or Batman is the more interesting superhero. Technically, I guess Batman isn't a superhero at all, he's just a very disturbed guy who has the ability to create some incredible crime-fighting gadgets that make him appear to be a superhero (he's my choice for most interesting superhero, by the way).
Superman, on the other hand, has a number of very incredible superpowers that make him more than a match for the average villain. The "Man of Steel" is too squeaky-clean and unbeatable to be really interesting in my opinion. Give me a flawed, kind of messed-up superhero for real "interesting" potential.
A couple of days ago I came across this checklist created by Pat Didomenico for Business Management Daily. Although it's not targeted at project professionals, it's targeted to bosses and managers in general, and I thought it might be interesting to see how everyone scores.
With that in mind, take a look in the mirror and add up the behaviors you feel confident that you exhibit on a regular basis:
According to a recent article I discovered on HR.BLR.com, "The biggest roadblocks to organizational breakthroughs are a shortage of fresh thinking and too much red tape, according to executives interviewed for a recent Robert Half survey."
This shouldn't come as a surprise to most project leaders, over the years I've noticed that the path most organizations take to innovation is re-invention. According to the Robert Half survey, 35 percent of the 1,400 CFOs surveyed said a lack of new ideas is the greatest barrier to their company being more innovative with 24 percent citing too much bureaucracy as the problem. It was also interesting to note that 20 percent blamed being bogged down with daily tasks or putting out fires as the problem. Sound familiar? If so, it doesn't sound like you're alone.